CLEVELAND (AP) - Jim Brown’s controversial absence didn’t tarnish another memorable day for Cleveland’s other football giants.
The team unveiled its new ring of honor during a halftime ceremony on Sunday, an event Brown boycotted because of the Hall of Fame running back’s rift with team president Mike Holmgren, who stripped the 74-year-old of his senior adviser’s title shortly after coming to Cleveland.
Brown received a loud ovation when his name was the first one announced during the ceremony, which was also attended by NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and several Browns Hall of Famers, including Leroy Kelly, Bobby Mitchell and Paul Warfield.
Brown was the only inductee not even represented by a family member.
As their names were called, the former greats stepped forward and basked in applause that echoed through decades of glory.
"I was so excited, I was ready to suit up," Kelly said. "It was great to see all those names up there. It’s a truly great feeling."
Goodell spent Saturday with Brown at a Congressional Black Caucus event in Washington before flying to Cleveland on Sunday to take part in the ring of honor ceremony. Goodell said he spoke with Brown about his decision not to attend the home opener against Kansas City.
Goodell was disappointed the greatest Brown of them all skipped the event.
"But he’ll always be important to the Browns and to the NFL," he said. "He’s one of the greatest players to ever play the game. We spoke about it and we spoke about a lot of things. He can speak for himself. We had a good conversation. He’s a good man."
Mitchell stayed clear of making any comments about Brown, who sent a scathing letter to Holmgren after he was asked to take a lesser role as a consultant to owner Randy Lerner.
"That is between Jim and the Browns organization," said Mitchell, who also played for Washington. "My career was the result of being with a lot of great players like Jim Brown and a great coach in Paul Brown. When I came back here, it wasn’t about beating them but proving I was worthy of playing against them."
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