Jimmy Haslam, who agreed to purchase a controlling interest in the Cleveland Browns earlier this year, was one of several notable people in attendance at the first Browns Backer Bash of the 2012 regular season Saturday night at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Haslam met with the fans and signed autographs during his time at the Backer Bash on the eve of the regular season opener against the Philadelphia Eagles.
“We’re fired up and what a great turnout of Browns Backers,” Haslam said. “I think we had 300 or 400 people here. Several of them have come from hundreds of miles away and they’re fired up and ready to go.”
The Backer Bash was one of the many places Haslam has visited since agreeing to the purchase a controlling interest on Aug. 3.
During the preseason, Haslam traveled to Green Bay and watched the Browns earn a 35-10 victory over the Packers at Lambeau Field. When the Browns returned to Cleveland for preseason games against the Eagles and Chicago Bears, Haslam spent part of his time sitting in the Dawg Pound in the East end zone at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Haslam also met with fans and signed autographs in the City View Club during Family Night at the stadium on Aug. 8.
“It’s really unbelievable the support that we have here from the fans,” Haslam said. “Lots of those people have been season-ticket holders for 20, 25 and 30 years and it was great to have the opportunity to shake hands and meet some of those people.”
Fans from more than 20 Backers clubs joined Haslam and several Browns alumni at the event.
“There were people lined up at three o’clock,” said Michele DeScioli, manager of Browns Backers Worldwide. “It’s been amazing. People are just so excited about opening day, excited about the Eagles and I’m just blown away by the attendance. I just love these fans.”
Former quarterback Bernie Kosar, running back Kevin Mack, wide receivers Webster Slaughter and Reggie Langhorne, defensive back Hanford Dixon, punter/kicker Don Cockroft and coach Sam Rutigliano were at Saturday’s Backer Bash.
In addition to getting autographs and photos with the former Browns players Rutigliano held a question-and-answer session with the fans.
“Just being in the stadium, you can feel the electricity in the city and the hype that goes with it on a couple fronts,” Kosar said. “One, you remember back to your days -- it doesn’t seem like that long ago when we were getting ready for the games -- and the excitement and the hope. That’s what’s beautiful about the NFL; that hope and excitement of a new season starting and you can just feel it in the air right now.”
Kosar and Slaughter will serve as the team’s honorary coin toss captains for Sunday’s regular season opener against the Eagles. It was an opportunity for Kosar to catch up and reminisce with his former teammates. One of the memories they shared was about the well-known photo of Langhorne and Slaughter celebrating a big play with a high-five in the end zone.
“It’s a real honor and just catching up with the guys, to be here with Webster and be joking with him and Langy about their poster -- and I can remember the exact moment they did that in the end zone -- it’s a lot of fun,” Kosar said. “It brings back a lot of great memories.”