BAY VILLAGE, Ohio -- Hue Jackson took the plunge on Friday -- for cleansing and for charity.
Jackson chose a 70-degree afternoon with water temperatures in the high 50s to jump into Lake Erie with about 140 other members of the Cleveland Browns organization, all wearing "The Cleanse" T-shirts.
"It was, uh, refreshing," Jackson said as he stood on Huntington Beach, just out of the water. "It was refreshing, but it was cold, no doubt about that."
While some waded into the water, Jackson and his wife, Michelle, both dived in headfirst and submerged themselves. After it was over, the group, which included owner Dee Haslam, turned the event into a splash party while NFL Films and a local TV helicopter documented it.
Prior to taking the dive, the head coach spoke to the members of the organization and to the media.
"I honestly believe we're going to turn the page on the last two years and move forward," said Jackson, who had to wait to make the jump until June because he has a stent and doctors told him to wait for the water to warm up.
He had dubbed it a cleanse because he said it would cleanse the entire team of the misery of 2016 and '17. Those two years have seen the Browns finish 1-15 and 0-16, the two worst seasons in team history.
After winning one game in 2016, Jackson said fans would find him swimming in the lake if they won one game in 2017. The Browns won none, and Jackson said he would live up to his vow. He turned the event into a fundraiser for The Hue Jackson Foundation, which fights human trafficking. Jackson promised to donate $100 for every member of the organization who joined him, and owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam promised to match every dollar. Jackson later stood with an oversized check for $30,000 that will go to the foundation.
"I know our fans have been very disappointed," Jackson said. "I get it. But that page is closed. Hopefully they'll give us a chance to earn back their respect, their trust, their affection for our football team and the city. Because we plan on doing something special.
"We're not gonna talk about it -- we're just gonna work."
He quipped that there would be "no more promises."
"I'm not doing that any more," he said.
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