*Above video is a recent story about the legacy of Browns’ great Jim Brown*
CANTON, Ohio (WJW) — In a long-awaited tribute to one of the greatest to ever play the game of football, peers of the late Jim Brown joined his family, Browns team executives, invited fans and others to honor his legacy.
“It’s ironic that we wanted to have a memorial service for Jim right after he died, but for a variety of reasons it didn’t work out, and I really can’t think of a better place to honor him than here at the hall of fame,” Browns owner Jimmy Haslam told Fox 8 News.
The invitation-only ceremony at the Zimmermann Symphony Center was attended by hall of famers and football players including Anthony Munoz, Lynn Swann, Barry Sanders, Marcus Allen, Jerome Bettis, and Dave Robinson among many others.
Also in attendance were Browns greats Joe DeLamielleure, Bernie Kosar and 2023 Hall of Fame enshrinee, Joe Thomas.
“I think it’s important because he is the Hall of Fame. He’s like one of the pillars of it, and the other reason, when I was a kid I loved football I was a Lions fan, and my biggest thrill was to get to go see Leroy Kelly and Jim Brown play,” DeLamielleure told Fox 8.
“A lot of people have a different impression of Jim Brown than I do because when we were going through the strike era in ’80, what was it ’92, he was a big helping hand, and he really stayed behind the scenes. He helped the retired guys you know, he built the league,” he added.
Brown was remembered not only for his contributions on the field but to his legacy of social justice.
“Jim, you know was a great uniter of people and especially his peers and I think that was something that he had a skill that a lot of people don’t have, and you know highly regarded by his peers and his fans,” said Dee Haslam.
In attendance was his wife Monique, and his daughter Kim.
“My dad always gave me his time he always told me no bs he checked me, he loved me, he showed his love for me in his actions,” Kim Brown told Fox 8 News.
“What my dad stood for is an amazing human being, and I think that’s why everybody came out,” she added.
Brown’s contributions to society and to the game of football clearly also made an indelible mark on generations of fans gathering in Canton for Thursday night’s Hall of Fame game between the New York Jets and the Cleveland Browns.
“He’s an icon in Cleveland, I mean arguably the best football player, definitely running back ever,” said Ron Kercher, who was among the invited guests.
“Say football in Cleveland — that’s the first thing you think about is Jim Brown,” said 67-year-old Harold Guess, a Browns fan who lives in the Columbus, Ohio, area and remembers watching Jim Brown play while growing up out of state.
“The activity the Browns have had with social justice and with other important moments in history and Jim Brown was right there in the middle of it,” said Guess’ son Jeff.
Jimmy Haslam, among the first speakers at the tribute, recalled much of the impact Brown has had on the game and the team he inherited but also spoke to his contributions to society in spite of whatever faults Brown may have had.
“That’s the kind of guy Jim Brown was, and the country is much better of course to have Jim Brown as a football player, but more importantly the man,” said Haslam.