A day after the Cleveland Browns finished the 2016 season with a 1-15 record, Hue Jackson told reporters there was no way the team would be that bad again in 2017.
“I’m not going 1-15,” Jackson said, via ESPN’s Pat McManamon. “No. I’ll be swimming in that lake over there somewhere. That’s not happening.”
But the Browns were even worse in 2017, becoming just the second team in NFL history to finish a season 0-16. So on Friday, Jackson held up his end of the promise he made 18 months earlier and marched into Lake Erie with a huge group of team employees — including Browns owner Dee Haslam.
Jackson waited until June to make the jump, because doctors advised against the coach making the plunge in winter.
Earlier in the week, Jackson told reporters that the organization was using the moment as a chance to “turn the page on a lot of things that have gone on here.”
“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 Friday.
“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.”
For every Browns employee who joined him on the jump, Jackson pledged to donate $100 to the Hue Jackson Foundation, which combats human trafficking.
The 150-person group brought the total to $15,000 from Jackson. It was matched by Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam, bringing the total to $30,000.
There will be a $30,000 donation to the Hue Jackson Foundation as part of lake jump pic.twitter.com/FkB2ksGhQt— Nate Ulrich (@NateUlrichABJ) June 1, 2018
After a productive offseason, there’s reason to be optimistic about the future of the Browns, and to believe that a page will actually be turned. But if the team finishes 0-16 or 1-15 again, don’t expect Jackson to be on the payroll for another jump into Lake Erie.