BEREA, Ohio — Browns coach Hue Jackson defended inviting ousted Baylor coach Art Briles to work with his team.
Briles was fired by the school in May amid a sexual assault scandal involving several former football players. He attended Cleveland’s practice on Wednesday at the request of Jackson, who also had Briles as a guest during training camp and asked him back.
“He is a tremendous offensive-minded football coach,” Jackson said following Wednesday’s practice. “I’m always looking at different ways of doing things and preparing things. What happened at Baylor is at Baylor.”
Briles wore Browns coaching gear on the field and spent most of his time with the team’s quarterbacks during the portion of the workout open to reporters. He did not speak to the media.
Jackson said he understood why there might be questions regarding his willingness to bring in Briles.
“I think everybody deserves an opportunity to kind of do what they do,” Jackson said. “I respect everybody’s feelings and I don’t condone anything or not, but that is not for me to judge. The opportunity to pick his brain and to have him be around and talk to him and get to know him outside of all of that in a different capacity was what was important to me.”
Jackson made it clear Briles is his guest and will not be here for “a long time.” When he visited Cleveland earlier this summer, Briles spent time talking with several of his former players who are now Browns: quarterback Robert Griffin III, rookie wide receiver Corey Coleman, offensive lineman Spencer Drango and wide receiver Josh Gordon, who recently entered a rehab facility days before his NFL suspension expired.
The 60-year-old Briles was suspended in May after a law firm released a 13-page report that accused Baylor coaches and staff of interfering with investigations into sexual assault complaints against some players, and even impeding potential criminal proceedings.
Jackson did not discuss Briles’ past but believes he will get a chance to resurrect his career. Cleveland’s coach discussed bringing in Briles with the team’s management group before extending his invitation.
“We have all been kind of knocked down before. I have, too,” Jackson said. “I have been unfairly judged before and judged correctly, too. I try not to do that with people. I try to take people for face value and who they are and what they are. I just know I have met him and have talked to him extensively, and I think whatever has happened at Baylor, I am not condoning or him being here says that we condone anything. I have talked this through with our upper management because I asked is it OK for him to be here with me as my guest, and I got the OK.
“It was a good conversation with our people here and I think they understood where I was coming from. I don’t want to make it seem like, well, I’m trying to extend the olive branch. I’m trying to learn some other things that I think are good, but also getting to know somebody on a whole different level, which I think is a good thing, not a bad thing.”