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Hue Jackson: 'We're going to chase greatness here'

As cold as the weather was outside of the Browns training facility in Berea -- and it was frigid -- the reception for Hue Jackson was just as warm on the inside.

Within a few minutes of landing in Cleveland as the Browns' new head coach, Jackson was inside his new office and greeted by a small sampling of the employees whom with he'll share it. The rest were at FirstEnergy Stadium -- Jackson's office for eight Sundays in the fall -- while the building undergoes significant renovations.

As Dee Haslam shook Jackson's hand, a roar of applause filled the lobby. It only grew louder as Jackson delivered an impromptu speech, promising better days were ahead behind a new leader for a franchise coming off a 3-13 season.

"I've never experienced anything like that before in my life," Jackson said. "To me, that told me that this building is electric and they want to win and they expect to win and they understand that there's a lot of work to do but everybody's ready to roll up their sleeves and go to work."

Whether the audience was relatively small in front of Browns employees or massive in front of viewers across the country on NFL Network and local Cleveland news stations at his evening press conference, Jackson's message carried the same theme.

Jackson plans to win with the Browns, no matter the work it will take and the challenges the organization faces.

"We have to walk into this building every day ready to work and compete to be the best we can be," he said. "That is what I am going to sell this football team on. That is what I am going to sell this coaching staff on. That is what I want this organization to be sold on. We are chasing greatness.

"Sometimes people chase it and you don't hit it all the time, but if you don't chase it you are going to hit the wrong thing. At least when you chase it, you might fall on something that is really good that gives a chance to be very special here."

Owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam, Chief Strategy Officer Paul DePodesta and Executive Vice President Sashi Brown agreed. And after seven interviews with seven different candidates -- some of whom Jimmy Haslam said he expects to soon land head coaching jobs -- it was clear Jackson stood out from the rest.

The search committee -- which also included Jed Hughes, a consultant from the Korn/Ferry international search firm -- met with Jackson on Sunday in Cincinnati. It was the second interview of the day for Jackson, who was just hours removed from a dramatic AFC Wild Card loss to the Steelers.

Two days later, the committee -- minus Dee Haslam, who attended a special league meeting for NFL owners in Houston -- met once more with Jackson. An offer was extended Wednesday amid reports Jackson was set to interview with the New York Giants.

The Browns ensured Jackson would only have to fly to Cleveland.

"We got the right guy for the Cleveland Browns," Jimmy Haslam said. "He is smart. He is tough. He is confident. He is competitive. He has been a head coach before. He has a great offensive mind. He has a tremendous track record developing quarterbacks.

"I am going to say this again because you will see when you hear from him and you will see it when you are around him, he is very, very competitive."

For Jackson, the Browns' potential -- with a redesigned front office, rabid fan base and resources to improve the roster -- appealed to him most as he evaluated his future in the enviable position of a sought after coaching candidate. His biggest question to those interviewing him -- Do we have the chance to win? -- was answered in convincing enough of fashion to make his answer a no-brainer when the offer was presented.

That competitive aspect Haslam mentioned was clear as Jackson surveyed the "challenge" he's ready to tackle.

"I didn't have any preconceived notions and my mind didn't need to be changed," Jackson said. "This is a tremendous organization led by some great people. Again, there are only 32 of these (jobs). I understood where they had been and where they're trying to go. I like challenges. What a challenge, but when you have the support that I think we have here, those challenges become reality.

"If I didn't think that we had a chance to do something special here, I wouldn't be here."

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