Hue Jackson hasn't received a sneak peek at the Jim Brown statue outside of FirstEnergy Stadium. He'll wait just like everyone else to see the final product Sunday.
Since he was hired in January, Jackson has made the absolute most of his time with Brown face to face, an experience that never gets old for the Browns head coach.
"He is a very straight shooter, but so intelligent and has had so many different experiences," Jackson said Friday. "The things that he has imparted to me I will always treasure and remember about this game and about this organization and about his love and passion for the Cleveland Browns and for the city, for the fans. He is a walking Cleveland Brown, at the end of the day that is what he is. That shows all the time and that comes right from him. That is from his heart, and it is special that way."
Brown's statue unveiling is one of the main events during the Browns Alumni Weekend, which kicked off Friday with the Cleveland Browns Alumni Golf Outing at Stonewater Golf Club. Former linebacker Dick Ambrose and defensive back Thom Darden will be inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends program Saturday and be honored again during halftime of Sunday's game against the Ravens.
Hours before kickoff, the sheet will come off the first statue honoring a former player outside of FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns commissioned nationally-recognized sculptor David L. Deming for the statue, which will be erected outside of the southeast corner of the stadium. Hailing from Lakewood, Ohio, Deming has created many distinguished pieces that are featured throughout Cleveland and the United States.
"I have gotten very close to Jim and really respect his wisdom and his knowledge of this game," Jackson said. "I can't think of a better person to put a statue of in front of our stadium. That is going to be exciting for the players, as well, and I know for me because I think he is so deserving of that honor."
It hasn't been just Jackson who has been impacted since Brown became a more involved presence with the franchise in recent months. Players, too, who were born decades after Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, have been touched by the man they affectionately call "The G.O.A.T."
They see Brown regularly, whether it be in the locker room, in the cafeteria, or on the bus during one of the team's road trips, and they've embraced the experience just like Jackson has.
"It is a humbling experience seeing Jim Brown walking around this facility, seeing him walk around the practice field," Browns defensive back Joe Haden said. "Just seeing the G.O.A.T., the greatest of all time to play football, to play the sport that I love. I am working my tail off to just be recognized as one of the best players to just be in the league. You have the guy that is the best player of all time just walking around talking to us. It is super humbling. He deserves many trophies, a trophy in front of the practice facility, a trophy in front of the stadium; wherever, he deserves a statue. It is a humbling experience being able to see him all the time. He is one of the best guys I have met."
Jackson's relationship with Brown is one of many with Browns alumni he continues to grow and develop. Since Jackson's hiring, numerous former players were invited to watch OTAs and training camp, the team's rookies experienced an alumni panel during their rookie orientation and Hall of Fame wide receiver Paul Warfield spoke to the team before a mid-August practice.
Jackson called this coming weekend a "special weekend" for the Browns franchise.
"I think the guys have been more involved and able to come through and see our players and rub elbows with our players a little bit, but I want it to be even more than that because I think that is what is going to help us get this organization back to where it needs to be," Jackson said. "We have to go back and grab some of the great times that have been here and understand what those were.
"You have to have something that you model yourself after, and I think it lies here within the history of this organization and some of the great players that have played here."