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Hue Jackson, Browns players headline 17th annual Cleveland Browns Foundation golf tournament

ROCKY RIVER — Hue Jackson didn't hesitate one bit when asked why he led the entire Browns football team — yes, the whole team — to its charity golf tournament Thursday in lieu of the final two practices of OTAs.

"I think it's very true in my heart that our guys need to see how much — and how very much — it's important to me that we're involved in the community," Cleveland's first-year coach said.

"This is ours."

Indeed, that's a theme Jackson and members of the Browns' front office have stressed in recent months as coaches, players, alumni and staff were on hand for the 17th annual Cleveland Browns Foundation Golf Tournament, held in association with University Hospitals and Professional Travel, at the Westwood Country Club.

And Jackson -- who seems to have brought a new energy to Berea as Cleveland nears the end of offseason workouts -- wanted to make sure those good vibes spread out from the team's training facility.

"At the end of the day, we are huge role models for so many young kids and so many adults in this community," Jackson said.

"And I think this is our way of giving back and being able for everyone to see that we're all in and it's very important to our football team, very important for our staff, that we handle this the right way."

The golf tournament — the Cleveland Browns Foundation's longest standing and most successful fundraisers, raising more than $2.8 million since its inception — is aimed at raising money and awareness in the name of education and youth development in Northeast Ohio.

"We look at this as three things," Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said. "One, it's a lot of fun. Two, it contributes a significant amount of money and three, it furthers good things in the community that the Cleveland Browns do."

Groups of four were joined by Browns personnel during the 18-hole round on a balmy afternoon before concluding the day with a reception and dinner program designed to emphasize the reach the team and its partners in supporting the community, particularly in equipping kids with the opportunities and resources necessary to be successful in today's world.

Browns coaches, players and staff who didn't hit the links played host to the team's Dawg Pound Games, a series of field activities for the youth from the team's partners and schools directly effected through the foundation's programs.

"Honestly this is just like another opportunity to give back, just really looking back and reminiscing on your time as a kid and looking up to football players, wishing that you could meet them. I was that kid," said second-year defensive lineman Danny Shelton, who was one of many players running around, working up a sweat and putting smiles on faces.

"So for me to be able to do this and get this opportunity to come out here, it means everything."

With a focus on education, the Cleveland Browns Foundation aims to identify and eliminate barriers affecting students' readiness to learn so all individuals can reach their maximum potential and make a positive long term impact on Northeast Ohio.

Browns players and coaches attended the 17th Annual Cleveland Browns Foundation Golf Tournament in association with University Hospitals and Professional Travel.

"We're so excited about the direction we're going in, not only on the field but off the field," Browns owner Dee Haslam said, who also pointed to the Browns' community initiatives that include the refurbishment of five local high school football fields and a mission to promote youth football and safety of the game. "We're putting every dollar back into the community plus some."

Among current Foundation partners are the Cleveland Metropolitan School District (Get 2 School! You Can Make It! attendance campaign), The Centers for Families and Children (2,000 Days), Achievement Centers for Children (Adapted Football League).

"This event has raised $2.8 million for the foundation, and those funds are directly invested into the community to support education and youth development programs, many of which are in attendance today," vice president of the Cleveland Browns Foundation Renee Harvey said.

And, of course, they were joined by a sea of players, coaches and staff members working toward the same goal.

"The fact that the entire team is here today demonstrates the value the entire organization places on our community involvement," Harvey said. "That is lead by Dee and Jimmy and has been reinforced by Coach Jackson as well."

Dee Haslam added: "I'm really overwhelmed to see all our men in orange jerseys. But I have to tell you it started the day Hue Jackson walked in our building. He said we're going to do this all together. And he was talking about winning, right? But he was also talking about giving back to the community and being the best we can for Cleveland. And this is an example of this."

The Cleveland Browns First and Ten campaign is the team's community program designed to inspire fans to volunteer in and help their communities throughout the world by volunteering for 10 hours each year.

The Browns are the only NFL club to promote a long-term volunteering program that unifies the team and its entire fan base, with the goal of impacting every individual's city across the globe, as well as the franchise's local community.

Consider Thursday as a token of that commitment.

"It really moves me because this is truly about kids and I think back to my childhood because somebody helped me get to where I am today," Jackson said, "and the fact that there's so many people here that are doing the same thing and impacting young people's lives is tremendous."

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