Media’s reaction to Brown’s comments overblown
Sportswriters around these parts have launched an open season on Jim Brown. I don’t get it.
The local media has gone out of its way to sway public opinion toward the Cleveland Browns and away from the greatest player to ever don an Orange helmet.
The facts appear to be these: When Mike Holmgren was hired, he stripped Brown’s Executive Advisor title, which came with a six-figure salary and cut funding to Brown’s Amer-I-Can program. When the team announced it was adding a Ring of Honor to Browns Stadium, Brown’s wife Monique told the Plain Dealer, “He won’t be able to make it. He tried to move a few things around [his schedule], but wasn’t able to.”
Brown was then interviewed on a Syracuse radio station, The Score 1260, when he said the following:
“I’m a very sensitive person. I do like to be respected. I’m very loyal. I like it to be a two-way street.
“I’ve been very quiet about the situation in Cleveland. Sometimes when you comment on things, all you do is create problems. The last thing I want to do is create problems for anyone or disrupt the team or ownership or the plans of other people.
“On the other hand, as an individual I have plans of my own. I have a dignity and character of my own that I also protect. I don’t really need to comment on where I go, why I go, why I don’t go. All the people involved are doing all the commenting. They’re the ones with the power. I’m just an individual who played football and worked for the Browns for a while ... My main work right now is to help the players pension plan and health care situation. ... Those of us well enough off financially should chip in and start the ball rolling so that these players can be given the respect that baseball and basketball give their players.”
The local media’s response includes the following:
• One of the best reporters in the area Tweeted, “Browns Ring of Honor a great, overdue gesture. Too bad Jim Brown is making it all about him.”
• A columnist suggested Brown only sees things, “through the prism of race. It is not the ‘60s anymore,” and decried Brown’s defense of Maurice Clarett and LeBron James.
• Another columnist tried to guilt Brown into showing up because it was for the fans.
• Yet another columnist asked if there was “anyone on Jim Brown’s side in this disconnect between the greatest player of all time and two people in the Browns organization, Randy Lerner and Holmgren?”
I am on Jim Brown’s side. What exactly has Brown done to deserve this criticism? What has he really said that has the local media outraged?
I can’t help but think the media would be on the other side if this story had it happened a year ago. The media would have gleefully thrown Eric Mangini under the bus for removing Brown from the front office, but Holmgren is the new franchise savior so he doesn’t get criticized. The honeymoon is in full effect.
I do not agree with everything Jim Brown said over the years but I greatly respect he has never changed who he was. He has spoken his mind since his playing days. Ask Brown a question and he will share his opinion regardless of the answer you were looking for. He speaks for social causes and stands firm in his beliefs. He doesn’t have a Heisman just because of the color of his skin. He walked away from the NFL because he was disrespected. He doesn’t really care what other people think. He walks in his own skin and to his own beliefs. He owes no man anything.
Also, Jim Brown is not one of those athletes that will do anything to stay in the spotlight. He doesn’t schedules press conferences, but merely answers questions when asked. The media created this firestorm, not Jim Brown.
During the last few painful years Randy Lerner used Jim Brown’s credibility when his team’s front office had none of its own. Holmgren arrived and Brown wasn’t needed. Brown doesn’t care about a title or even the money, but apparently Lerner has no people skills and his silence disrespected a living legend. Jim Brown is too proud to be a puppet to roll out to get a few cheers.
I don’t buy Jim Brown owes it to the fans to show up. Brown is the greatest running back in NFL history. He averaged 104.3 per game for his career second only to Barry Sanders’ 99.8. His name should have been on the stadium walls the day it opened. The fact there is not a statue of Brown in front of the stadium like the Indians did back in 1994 for Bob Feller speaks volumes as well.
Any time Jim Brown shows up to Cleveland Browns Stadium, he should be given a standing ovation. And if he doesn’t, the mention of his name should get the same respect.