So Hue Jackson finally went ahead and jumped into a lake. It was what he promised that he would do at the end of the 2016 season when the Cleveland Browns head coach in his first season with the team said he would do so if they didn’t win more games than the year before. Considering they only won one game in 2016, it was a pretty impressive feat for them to come up short.
But Jackson and the team chose to spin it into a positive, turning the event into a fundraiser for charity and using it as a symbol of renewal for the Browns. The event took place yesterday and raised $30,000 for Jackson and his wife’s charity, which aims to combat human trafficking in the region.
“No more freaking losing!”, he told onlookers by Lake Erie. He donated $100 for every person who agreed to jump into the lake along with him. Well over 100 members of the organization joined him in taking the plunge.
“Those people have been with me every day. When you lose a game and you lose as many games as we have and you keep parking your car and walking into the building and have to see those faces each and every day, I carry them with me”, Jackson said of his bond with the other members of the Browns organization.
“I carry them and their families and this city with me contrary to what anybody believes. It’s on me. I wear it every day”, he went on. “So I just thank them for being a part of this because they didn’t have to do this. They didn’t have to come here and support this. I made the statement, and they said, ‘no, I want to do this’, and I’m thankful”.
While Jackson chose to make the most of the moment, he left shortly afterward, and expressed relief to be past it once it concluded. “It feels good that it’s over with”, he told reporters. “It’s over and done with. The page is turned, and you can see it’s not just me, it’s our organization. They are the reason why I do what I do and our players and our fans”.
Reporters said that he appeared clearly touched by emotion when he spoke about the support that he has received from the Browns’ owners, Jimmy and Dee Haslam, and about the loyalty of the team’s fans in spite of the fact that he hasn’t been able to provide them with much to cheer for.
“I know our fans have been very disappointed. I get it. But that page is closed”, he said. “Hopefully they’ll give us a chance to earn back their respect, their trust, their affection for our football team and this city because we plan on doing something special”.
Cleveland has added a lot of talent this offseason, including Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward in the first round, potentially their first franchise quarterback since returning to the league in 1999 and perhaps a lockdown cornerback.