CLEVELAND -- Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson is a close friend of Cincinnati Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis, but when the two AFC North Division rivals take the field against each other at Paul Brown Stadium Sunday, there will be nothing impeding the business of football.
To Jackson, the friendship will be set aside for the 60 minutes in the name of competition.
“It is called a football game,” Jackson said. “We are 0-6. Trust me, I’m trying to win a game. This is not about personal friendships, relationships or any of that. This is about trying to win a football game. We are trying to be the best we can be.
“Our guys are working their tails off to get prepared for a big game this week. This weekend won’t be about Marvin and Hue Jackson. It will be about our football teams more so than anything.”
Jackson took the Browns’ head-coaching job in January after a four-year stint with the Bengals.
First, a secondary assistant and special-teams coach in 2012, Jackson went on to mentor the running backs in 2013. Then, Jackson took over as Cincinnati’s offensive coordinator and held the job for two years before joining the Browns.
That was Jackson’s second tour of duty with the Bengals, as he served as the wide receivers’ coach from 2004 to 2006.
“I know the players, just like they know me,” Jackson said. “I’m sure the same question is going to be asked to their players and their organization. It won’t be about that. As I said, those guys are a group of men that have won a lot of games together.
“They know how to play and have good coaches. It is a great organization, led by the Brown family. What I know is what I know. Just like what they know is what they know. It is going to really come down to our players playing, starting this game at one o’clock. The players will decide it.”
Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict is one of those players that could decide the game on Sunday.
Known for his relentless pursuit of the football, Burfict has been suspended several games for his inability to control his emotions. And for the Browns to get their first win of the 2016 season and Jackson knows his players must avoid those emotional outbursts.
“We do not want to obviously have the repercussions that go with those type of incidents, but you have to get up and get ready to play guys like him too,” Jackson said. “You have to bring your lunch pail because he is going to bring his. You know it is a full day’s work when you are playing against him. I think our guys understand that.”