BAY VILLAGE, Ohio — Hue Jackson made good on an old promise to jump into Lake Erie on Friday afternoon.
The Browns' third-year head coach plunged into the waters off Huntington Beach as part of a pledge he made upon the conclusion of a 1-15 season in 2016. He was joined by more than 100 staff members, his wife, Michelle, and owner Dee Haslam.
"When I look and see all the people in or organization that are here supporting me and wanting to be a part of this because I think they all feel the same way. Let's put this behind us," Jackson told reporters.
"We understand we haven't been what we need to be for the city of Cleveland and we know Cleveland Browns football hasn't come close to what I want it to be. I get that. We hurt just like they do. But at the same time, I think we all want to turn the page."
In an end-of-the-year news conference two seasons ago, Jackson said if Cleveland finished with the same or worse record, he'd go "swimming in that lake over there somewhere. That's not happening." Unfortunately, the Browns finished winless the following year.
Jackson, however, believes Friday's jump marks something of a cleansing of the organization that stands to improve going forward.
"I honestly believe we're going to turn the page on the last two years and move forward. I'm really excited about the team we have — not just our team, but our organization, starting with (general manager) John Dorsey and the personnel side, our coaching staff, our players," he said.
"For everybody. I think our fans deserve so much more than we've done over the last two years and hopefully this will turn the page on that."
For every staff member who jumped in with him, Jackson donated $100 toward the Hue Jackson Foundation, which combats human trafficking across Northeast Ohio. Dee and Jimmy Haslam matched the funds, which amounted to $30,000.
"I think the biggest part of me is watching all the people in our organization come and be a part of this and support this," Jackson said. "It's not just me, I told them that, I get what I do in my job affects what they do in their job and I get that. We all work together. We're all touching each other's futures and how I do my job gives them a chance to better do their job so we work together and I get that. We have to put a better product on the field and that's what we plan on doing."
Of the Haslams' ongoing support, Jackson said "Jimmy and Dee Haslam have been supporters of mine since I've been here. They've never wavered, not one bit … they've been as supportive as anybody I've ever been around on all fronts, as a coach and a person."
The Jacksons launched their foundation last summer. In collaboration with the Salvation Army, they are set to open a residence home in Cleveland for human trafficking survivors in July.
"This was something that's been near and dear to my wife and my family. We've had some personal experiences with this in our own way," Jackson said of establishing the foundation.
"I thought this was a chance to put two very important things together to bring more and shed more of a light on human trafficking, hopefully people will start to truly understand what it's really all about because it's a little bit different than people really think it is," Jackson said.
"And if people can truly understand the signs of it and truly get behind it, it's truly affecting families and young people and old people as well. Ohio is the No. 4 state that's affected by human trafficking and we wanted to do something about this."
On the field, Jackson believes 2018 marks a new chapter for the franchise.
"I came here two years ago to win and I'm going to win here, I truly believe that," he said.
"But when you make statements, you've gotta stand by them and you've got to do what you say you're going to do."