The Browns are inducting D’Qwell Jackson and Bill Nelsen into their Legends Program.
Former Browns‘ linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and former QB Bill Nelsen are being inducted into the 2021 class for the Browns’ Legends Program. They’ll join the class of 2020, Webster Slaughter and Josh Cribbs for their induction; since the 2020 class was postponed.
Jackson was a linebacker for the Browns from 2003 to 2013, wracking up five seasons of 100+ tackles with the club, with 826 total tackles and 532 solo tackles across his time in Cleveland. That places him third all-time in solo tackles for the franchise, just behind Clay Matthews (No. 1) and Mike Johnson (No. 2). Jackson is also No. 1 all-time in assisted tackles for the Browns, with 294.
While Nelsen doesn’t get discussed a lot alongside other Browns greats at quarterback, Nelsen had the best years of his career in Cleveland. In his four years as a starter for the Browns, Nelsen went 34-15 as a starter and took Cleveland to the title game in back-to-back years in 1968 and 1969, while also going to his lone career Pro Bowl in ’69 and earning Second-Teall All-Pro honors in ’68. Nelsen ranks 6th all-time in franchise history with most passing touchdowns for a Browns’ quarterback, a figure Baker Mayfield just passed in 2020.
Dee and Jimmy Haslam released a statement (via Cleveland.com) saying;
"We are always honored to recognize Browns alumni who mean so much to our organization and fans, and it is even more special this year as we have the opportunity to do it throughout our 75th anniversary season. After not being able to host the event in 2020, we greatly look forward to 2021 Alumni Weekend, when we will induct four deserving men – D’Qwell Jackson, Bill Nelsen, Webster Slaughter and Josh Cribbs – into our Legends program as we celebrate them and all of our alumni’s achievements and commitment to the Browns."
The Legends Program is different than the Ring of Honor or Browns Hall of Fame. There appears to be little reason why each exists on its own, yet the Legends Program seems to be the most accepting of new inductees, while the other two seem strictly for the NFL Hall of Fame Inductees. All three are still active, as they appear on the Browns’ website.
This honor is long coming for both D’Qwell Jackson and Bill Nelsen
You’d be forgiven if you forgot how good Nelsen was for the Browns, considering he did most of his work 53 years ago. Yet, many dismissed D’Qwell Jackson during his time with the Browns. He was on bad defenses after bad defenses, with only T.J. Ward and Joe Haden providing any respite for him. He only had one winning season in Cleveland and probably wasted some opportunities to play elsewhere and earn some more personal awards by staying loyal to the franchise.
He’d go on to be a Pro Bowler with the Colts after the Browns parted ways with him, helping showcase what he was truly capable of.
For Nelsen, he only had four really strong years with Cleveland, and if it was any other player there’d be little to no good reason to include him. Yet, he did have five years, the minimum requirement to be included, and did take the team to two back-to-back title games his first two years on the squad. That alone warrants a nod of the cap. Considering all the guys who came after him like Bernie Kosar, Brian Sipe and Baker Mayfield never did or haven’t yet gotten the team to the title game, there’s a fair argument to be made that Nelsen deserves to be included.