Hue Jackson watched as the third-annual Cleveland Browns Foundation Radiothon unfolded throughout the halls of the Browns facility. The first-year coach knew he had come to the right place when he accepted this job in January, and the past day-and-half in Berea offered further proof.
"I know what the leaders here are truly all about," Jackson said Tuesday of owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam. "I made the right decision being here with them because they truly stand for the things I think are important to me as well. It's about giving back to these young kids and giving them the opportunity to be all they can be. And I know that's exactly what their family is about."
Through online and on-air bidding, the Cleveland Browns Foundation, hosted on Good Karma Brands' ESPN 850 WKNR, raised a record of more than $137,000 over a 28-hour stretch of continuous broadcasting.
And because of Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam — who announced Tuesday they would match the funds with a dollar-for-dollar donation of their own — the grand total raised is almost $275,000, which will all go toward supporting local education and youth development programs.
"We talk about it all the time, there's three things we care about: winning football games, creating a great fan experience and giving back to the community. You'll hear us say that over and over and over again and really believe in it," Dee Haslam said.
"That third part, giving back to the community, that's all of our responsibility and it's really important that we're all in on that and we're all in participating in that."
All proceeds will benefit the Cleveland Browns Foundation in its mission to promote education and youth development across Northeast Ohio and ensure all students have access to a high-quality education regardless of zip code, race, economic status or disability.
"Giving back and investing in Northeast Ohio is extremely important to us as an organization and important to Dee and Jimmy Haslam," said Renee Harvey, vice president of the Cleveland Browns Foundation.
"We want our fans to see we're intentional about who we partner with, see how our support helps elevate the work of our partners, and the impact it's equating to"
Premium auction items — including a chalk talk with Jackson, lunch with chief strategy officer Paul DePodesta and a fishing trip with left tackle Joe Thomas — were among the most popular packages of the almost 100 items up for bidding.
More than 40 interviews with players, Jackson, the Haslams, executive vice president of football operations Sashi Brown, vice president of player personnel Andrew Berry as well as other Browns officials and community members took over the air waves in an effort to give back.
"I've been with the organization for quite a long time and I think what's amazing to see is the strong representationfrom our entire organization, and when you have your head coach and your football personnel come in, you can hear that we're all speaking the same language," Harvey said
"This is our community and we're invested in it and I think it speaks volumes to where we're at as an organization, what we believe in, what our vision is and what culture is. I couldn't be more proud."