CLEVELAND — Linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and the late quarterback Bill Nelsen, whose memorable careers impacted two generations of Browns fans in the team’s 75-year history, have been named to the 2021 class of Browns Legends, a program that honors players who have contributed to the success of the organization.
"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," said Dee and Jimmy Haslam in a statement. "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."
Jackson and Nelsen will be honored Sept. 26 when the Browns host the Bears at FirstEnergy Stadium. They will be joined by 2020 Legends Josh Cribbs and Webster Slaughter, who were unable to be properly honored last season because of the coronavirus pandemic.
Jackson, a second-round selection out of the University of Maryland, immediately took on the role as a starter in 2006, beginning in 13 games as a rookie and finishing his Cleveland career with 96 starts in 97 games.
He finished second-best in tackles in the NFL in 2011. Midway through 2009, he suffered a season-ending injury, keeping him off the field until 2011 when he returned with vengeance and had what many said was his best season with the team.
He was then rewarded with a long-term contract that would guarantee he would spend the bulk of his career in Cleveland until 2013. He finished with the Browns with 532 tackles, eight interceptions, a touchdown and five forced fumbles. He finished his career in Indianapolis in 2016.
"It's a blessing to receive such a great honor," Jackson said. "It's very humbling and rewarding and all these different things I can't even put in words to express how excited and appreciative I am. "I was a young man when I was drafted but I matured there. I met a lot of great people, some of them are still there and I try to keep in touch with them as much as possible."
On top of his accomplishments on the field, what he did off the field was equally important—actions proven in his many awards from the team, including the Ed Block Courage Award in 2011, the Salute to Service Award in 2014 and the “Good Guy” award in 2012, among others.
"Even during my time in Indy, I would say the best fans in the league are with the Cleveland Browns," Jackson said. "You just feel that energy, from the moment I was drafted until the moment I left.
Nelson, who joined the Browns in 1968 after spending his first five season with the Steelers, started in Cleveland as a backup before taking over as a starter.
He held on to the job for the next four seasons. He ranks eighth in Browns history in pass attempts at 1,314, seventh in completions at 689 and sixth in touchdowns.
Nelson, who lived in Orlando after his retirement, died in 2019 at the age of 78.
To be considered as a Browns Legend, players must have played for the team for at least five years, been a major contributor in their position on the team and been retired for at least five years.
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