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New British Prime Minister Liz Truss visited Browns in 2018 as U.K. sought permanent NFL team

Liz Truss met with Browns ownership at memorable Beer Fridge Game
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Posted at 4:23 PM, Sep 06, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-06 16:57:21-04

CLEVELAND — A new leader in the United Kingdom brings quite the connection to Northeast Ohio and, specifically, the Cleveland Browns.

We'll have more on this story on News 5 at 6.

Five years ago, then-Chief Secretary to the Treasury Liz Truss traveled to Cleveland as part of a trip to the United States and met with Browns ownership to learn what it would take to bring an NFL team to the U.K.

On Monday, roughly 160,000 Conservative voters selected Liz Truss for U.K. Prime Minister, succeeding Boris Johnson after he stepped down earlier this year.

In 2018, Truss attended the Browns-Jets Thursday Night Football game, tweeting several times throughout the evening and meeting Dee Haslem.

Ultimately, the Browns would defeat the Jets, marking their first win since the 2016 season and unlocking the iconic "Bud Light fridges" throughout the city.

After that trip, Truss highlighted her adventure on her official website, saying in part:

“It has been a pleasure to be able to bring the great name of Norwich to the States and recruit a new supporter!  My visit this week is very much about reaffirming our hope that a team will come over to the UK. Every season we see the huge economic and cultural benefits of matches being played in London, and the benefit the U.S receives from British tourists travelling stateside to watch matches. The Government will do everything it can to make a permanent UK NFL team a reality offering support and advice wherever the NFL needs it.”

Her comments never specified a team that would come over to the U.K., whether an existing one or an expansion team.

The trip also included stops in Washington D.C. and Detroit and meeting with technology leaders in Cleveland.

In a release leading up to the visit, Truss was also expected to meet with officials in Detroit to also reiterate the desire for an NFL team, however, it’s not clear if that meeting occurred.

Five years later, that dream still hasn’t materialized, but it does make one wonder: if the United Kingdom and its government were trying to bring the NFL overseas permanently, why go to a Browns-Jets game?

It's a question that perplexes Kelly Burgess Taylor, president of the British Bulldawgs Browns Backers group. 

“We've never had her turn up to any of our game watches,” she said. “I honestly think that there must have been some reason she was in Cleveland and just turned it into a publicity stunt.” 

Burgess Taylor vividly remembers how just one year earlier, the Browns traveled across the pond and lost to the Minnesota Vikings, as part of that 17-game losing streak. 

“That was the most incredible weekend of my life when the Browns came here,” she said. “For that one little glimmer of hope when they scored that first touchdown, there was a part of me that thought we could win this game. I nearly cried. But then we didn't win the game. But it was still a great weekend.” 

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Since then, Burgess Taylor said she’s never heard of the Browns or Jets in the overseas conversation. However, she has noticed the traction the NFL has made. 

“It's just growing and growing every year,” Burgess Taylor added. “It's just more and more fans, and they're showing more games on television, and you're finding more places that are showing it in bars.” 

This season, the NFL is set to have three regular season games in London, along with one game in Germany and another in Mexico City.

News 5 reached out to many of the parties involved in this meeting including Prime Minister Truss, the Cleveland Browns and Dee Haslam, and others as well, in hopes of learning more about the details of this meeting. None responded in time for this story.