Cleveland Browns owner Jimmy Haslam was honored for his commitment to diversity by the Cleveland Chapter of the NAACP at its Freedom Fund Dinner at the Cleveland Renaissance Hotel.
The NAACP cited his accomplishments in a press release, courtesy of The Plain Dealer’s Mark Naymik:
“Jimmy Haslam, owner of the Cleveland Browns who has hired more African Americans at the highest level of management and leadership in professional sports than any other sports franchise and who through the Cleveland Browns Foundation has renovated or built football fields for Cleveland area high schools while at the same time providing scholarship support to hundreds of high school students.”
Haslam boasts one of the most unique management teams in professional sports. In addition to giving a lawyer and former baseball analytics guru the responsibility of shaping his roster, three African American executives make up three of the most prominent positions within the team’s front office: team defacto general manager, Sashi Brown, head coach Hue Jackson and Andrew Berry, the team’s vice president of player personnel.
This isn’t the first time the Tennessee native owner has been recognized for his efforts to diversify NFL front offices and promote goodwill through his foundation. For similar reasons, he was awarded the Paul “Tank” Younger award for his foundation’s work, and his initial hiring of Sashi Brown and former general manager Ray Farmer to front office positions.
Per Maynik, the owner said he grew up in Knoxville, Tennessee, which is "as white as you can get,” and that working in the NFL was his “first experience with diversity.” That’s surprising considering he has been on Planet Earth for 63 years.
It’s worth noting he purchased a minority share of the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2008, so he was probably referencing that as his introduction to “diversity,” which would put him at 54 years old at that time.
He’s doing a tremendous job making up for lost time.
Haslam also commended LeBron James for handling a recent vandalization of his home in California with racial graffiti with “class and dignity.”
Hopefully, Haslam’s example will continue to trickle down in society to help reshape the way we think and treat each other, regardless of race.