Jim Brown’s Lesson for the NFL

About five years ago, Rush Limbaugh predicted the end of the National Football League. Drawing on the rash of stories about professional football players prone to concussion, the radio talk giant saw clearly that the Left would use a serious and very real problem to try to bring down yet another time-honored American institution. The NFL’s method of handling the bad publicity was to pour money into studies and agree to a $1 billion class-action settlement for retired players and their families. No one believes the NFL should not address an important health issue and it appears, in the wake of that public relations counterpunch, most Americans have come to grips with the inherent risk of playing a violent game and the fact that no one is forced to play. Choice won out.

But as Michael Walsh is always warning, the Left never stops, never sleeps, and never quits. There’s always another arrow in their quiver and if the concussions story missed the target, perhaps the Colin Kaepernick campaign to kneel in protest during the national anthem would be a surer bet.

The Kaepernick story even had the promise of being a bullseye in its potential to undermine both football and American patriotism in one clean shot. The former San Francisco 49ers quarterback started the trend of refusing to stand for “The Star-Spangled Banner” last year at the start of a preseason game, later explaining, “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.” Some other players in football and other professional sports followed suit. For the most part, however, the protest has generated more scorn than applause.

One reason for that is the strong suspicion that Kaepernick was just an opportunist looking to grab some headlines as his football skills were waning. Another is the scuttlebutt that Colin’s new squeeze is a radical activist who encouraged him to protest in an overt (and self-destructive) way. Whatever the reason, the move doesn’t seem to have worked in his favor. Now a free agent, Kaepernick remains unsigned. The stunt hasn’t exactly endeared other Leftists to the public, either.

Last week, before a preseason game, the Cleveland Browns decided they were going to try and “win” something (a concept otherwise lost on them for a long many years) by becoming the team with the largest number of anthem kneelers.

For a brief moment, the protest seemed to pay off. Weak-kneed coaches, wishy-washy owners, and moronic PR flacks made excuses for the antics of these wealthy man-children who thought they were accomplishing something important by insulting a large swathe of their fan base. Nobody in the NFL seemed capable of expressing anything other than fear—and why not? In the media world surrounding professional sports, political correctness is a powerful force. And on the other side, the specter of boycotts loomed large if these protests spread. Uttering the wrong word about them could cost the league millions of dollars in lost advertising, but the ongoing controversy could cost them in ticket sales. Playing it safe down the middle, if not the smart move (because, ultimately, impossible), was at least an understandable instinct. They were set to catch it on both ends.

And then came Jim Brown.

For Clevelanders and football fans alike, Jim Brown is more than just a legend in this city. He is a demigod. He was the Cleveland Browns during their glory days and before the Super Bowl became the sine qua non defining football greatness. He held the NFL rushing record of 12,312 yards until it was broken by the Chicago Bears’ Walter Payton in 1984. Brown is still the Cleveland Browns all-time leading rusher.

Sadly, Brown left the team and the NFL suddenly, prior to the start of the 1966 season. He had bigger goals—the most important being a dedication to racial justice. His activism upset some, encouraged others, and inspired many. He wasn’t the easiest person to talk to or to reason with, but no matter what he said or what he did, the respect he earned was always warranted. His image has been a formidable presence in a city short on championships. He has been a symbol of pride for Cleveland even during the darkest days of burning rivers, blown saves in game seven, and last minute fumbles. It was fitting that Brown played a big role in Cleveland’s first championship parade in decades when the Cavaliers finally ended our city’s sports drought in 2016.

Jim Brown is not someone the Left can credibly challenge. His social justice bona fides set him apart. No liberal could successfully denigrate his position when it comes to standing for the national anthem. It was natural for reporters to make tracks to get his take on the Browns controversy, however, and it’s likely they were surprised at his reaction and some were certainly disappointed.

align=”left” What Brown did was perfect and so typical of a man who has led a life of excellence and integrity. He shamed those players into civilized behavior.

“I’m going to give you the real deal: I’m an American,” Brown said. “I don’t desecrate my flag and my national anthem. I’m not gonna do anything against the flag and national anthem. I’m going to work within those situations. But this is my country, and I’ll work out the problems, but I’ll do it in an intelligent manner.”

When Brown speaks, people listen. And so when the Browns took the field this weekend, no one kneeled. They stood with their arms entwined to assuage their embarrassment, but kneeling was out of the question.

What Brown did was perfect and so typical of a man who has led a life of excellence and integrity. He shamed those players into civilized behavior.

And that—not boycotts or harassment or complaining or wishy washy excuses—is how we should all handle these shameful tantrums. Shame them. Mock them. Scorn them. And let them know that until they actually want to do something meaningful in their lives that makes such protests credible, they’d best mind their manners and remember what they are being paid to do.

The NFL is a great product, but as with all great products, the consumer can be fickle if it doesn’t live up to expected standards. The owners and management of the NFL should cease making lame excuses for their rude players in order not to raise the ire of loud Leftists intent on causing mischief. They should follow Brown’s lead.

No need to punish these players harshly; just treat them like the children they are. And then explain how it’s going to be. Make sure they remember who pays the bills: the fans. If the the fans aren’t happy (and most of them are not happy with this silliness), the ire of the social-justice warrior mob will be the least of the problems facing the NFL.

Perhaps if the Browns make it to the playoffs this year, we’ll forgive their bad behavior. But we’ll always be grateful to the great Jim Brown for reminding this generation how a real man behaves and what it actually means to be a winner.


About Pamela Shuman Lange

Pamela Shuman Lange hails from Chagrin Falls, Ohio. A graduate of Wilson College, she has worked in development, marketing, and public relations for several liberal arts colleges and for National Review Institute. She is active in local politics and is an amateur FaceBook provocateur.

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76 responses to “Jim Brown’s Lesson for the NFL”

  1. This is my first read of an estimable writer. My compliments to you Pamela Lange for excellent commentary.

    • This whole Kaepernick narrative has zero credibility, because all he’s done is complain. Yes, he’s given a few dollars and “lent his celebrity”, but if he actually wanted to work toward righting the wrongs he was protesting, he should have immediately called for a national (and public) platform.

      And that’s where ESPN comes in. If any entity has hitched its cart to the Kaepernick horse, it’s ESPN. You can’t listen to their opinion shows for more than two segments without hearing how racist the world is because Colin K. doesn’t have a job in the NFL.

      But like Kaepernick, ESPN has also failed to spend a single minute defining this so-called institutionalized oppression, and unlike Kaepernick, ESPN own the air on multiple TV, Radio and Internet properties, so they have ample avenues to address these issues.

      It’s far too late to matter… the whole kneeling/standing gig is (and always was) a joke. I hope the NFL continues to lose viewers, because it’ll be hilarious listening to ESPN spin the further decline in a year when they no longer have an election to blame.

      • ESPN is the most PC place on the planet. They do not explain, they do not deviate – they take-for-granted and they toe the line — exactly as all Liberals do.

  2. I don’t know what these players are thinking or if they are thinking at all but they accomplished NOTHING! They didn’t improve anybody’s life. The end game is how to get out of the embarrassment while claiming victory! This would include the players that protested and the NFL!

    It does make you wonder about the coaches that accepted this action from their players. I know that if I had a son (or daughter) and they didn’t stand for the National Anthem, I would be all over their @ss and would never accept that action!

    • You can do that because your kids aren’t being murdered y cops…yet.

      • Oh I didn’t know that NFL players had kids getting killed by the police. You mean they live in the hood!

    • Kaepernik doesn’t have a clue why he’s “protesting.” He, like too many mindless Black people, has accepted the mythology of Black oppression when, in reality, what we have in America is Black privilege.

      Jim Brown gets it right.

  3. Fairly interesting Ms Lange that you failed to mention in your column that Jim Brown during the course of his lifetime has had a well documented record of numerous incidents of violence not on the football field but directed against women, including throwing them down flights of stairs, punching them in the face, and generally manhandling them, and this is someone who during his playing days was 6’2″ 230lbs of hard muscle…you really should be fair and balanced when you report on someone like this….

    • Dan.
      In every discussion there is a dope. Congratulations, you are it.
      Stay focused on the point here.
      The reason these protesting wannabes are so pathetic is it is all about them.

      • Dan’s on point. Jackham, your response reminds me of the people who were “shocked, shocked” when O.J. was suspected in Nicole and Ron’s stabbing deaths. Because we bubblewrap sportsball “heroes” who do go on to murder women, by strenuous coverups of their off-field antics.

      • Ok, fair enough. But what exactly does that have to do with his message? While his imperfections are definitely troubling, does that mean the message he carries should be ignored or minimized? If this article was about someone assaulting women and he was brought up an someone who spoke out on it, I’d get the hypocrisy and the insistence on bringing up his past. However, this is someone who actually has worked to promote positive change on the issue that was discussed. It might be helpful to focus on the topic and not to distract or minimize the individual saying it. Otherwise, who among us is actually qualified to give an opinion on anything then??

      • I’m very pleased with what Brown said in the sense of trying to knock sense in these athletes and their herd mentality, but it’s too little, too late. LAST YEAR might have helped, but now patriots are disengaging from sports and finding (once they get a bit of distance) that watching sports is so much bread and circuses, and to be avoided as part of personal improvement.

        So the point is, Jim Brown’s domestic violence is part of the larger problem of criminality in the NFL, and is all becoming moot as the owners let their spoiled brats dictate yet another problem in addition to criminality and abuse of women, which is cockamamie racial politics that offend the majority White Conservative fan base.

      • I can’t argue that I would have liked to see this last year and maybe stop it early. I too have learned to happily live without many of the sports the overpriced, immature guys play and find out I don’t miss them. For those on the left who think there is some conspiracy against Kaepernick, money talks in the NFL. If he was a quarterback that could put W’s on the board, I guarantee he would be starting on some team. That’s how the NFL works. If you win, they can overlook assault or even murder in some cases and are happy to pay and play you.

        Also, you are correct that the NFL is putting its entire product in jeopardy with this impotent response. Viewership is down and they know why. They are just too cowardly to do what is necessary.

      • Yes the combination of his politics and his lousy game made the Ravens for example pass on C.K. as even a backup QB.

      • There is nothing inaccurate in Mr. Lack’s description of The Woman Beater Jim Brown

      • What’s inaccurate and illogical is the implication that a woman-beater cannot have an accurate opinion on patriotism.

    • She also missed telling us that he is considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time.

    • Jim Brown is a woman-beater, ergo his opinion on patriotism is wrong. Ever heard of logical fallacies?

      • I just thought the author painted Jim Brown as some type of deity…he is just another human being with good qualities and bad qualities…and folks should be aware of that…

      • Dan,
        I don’t know how old you are but you are showing classical Marqusian rhetoric.
        Although what you said may be shocking to the uninformed it is not to me. I already knew that. His point and comments are about being an American. Now had he made comments on domestic violence “maybe” your observation would have relevance.
        If you are of Millennial age and went to College it would be understandable as you guys don’t realize how the college professors have been teaching you this approach (without name) for years now. And it does rub off.
        Just to go off topic for a second. Look this up and the best article on this is a extreme left wing sociology professor from a renown school who finally spoke up about this debate technic which is tearing apart the Colleges’ ability to homes to free thought and expression. This article interview predated what we have been seeing the last year or two.

        And no, I will not do your research for you.

        And, if you are my age, shame on you, you should know better.

  4. Jim Brown was a part of the REAL civil rights movement in the ’60s. He experienced LEGAL discrimination, segregation and Jim Crow. Because he was Black, he could NOT stay in the same hotel with the rest of the team, eat at the same restaurants, etc. He fought against that, made a difference, and supported causes that helped pass the Civil Rights Act.

    Does racism still exist today? Of course it does. But unlike in Brown’s day, racial discrimination is now illegal.

    Democrats are bent on promoting the myth that rampant racial discrimination is still occurring. Jim Crow’s theme of “separate but equal” was ruled unconstitutional, yet when Democrats introduced the hyphen into America’s racial vocabulary, they reintroduced a more subtle form of Jim Crow. I’m an American, but not an African-American. Thanks to Democrats, we remain separate but equal.

    Jim Brown gets it, and I was pleased that he chose to label himself as an “American”. And because of his views and his efforts to unite rather than divide, noted Democrat “leader” Marc Lamont Hill labeled Jim Brown, MLK III and Steve Harvey as “mediocre negros”, and other Black “leaders” support Kaepernak’s cause to denigrate America.

    My guess is Brown told the younger players what’s what. Good for him, good for the Browns, and good for America.

    • Many (most?) Blacks insist on remaining separate and, they want equality without having to earn it.

    • >”Because he was Black, he could NOT stay in the same hotel with the rest of the team, eat at the same restaurants, etc.”

      In fact, if you knew the actual history, Brown’s Syracuse University teams refused to stay or eat anywhere Brown was refused service. Most especially noted, when Syracuse faced Texas in the 1956 Cotton Bowl game in Dallas. Democrats found the practice of Jim Crow useful, until it wasn’t.

  5. Da Bears’ Walter Payton. Right church, wrong pew. Were he still with us, Sweetness would likely say the same thing. Good for Jim Brown for speaking up for our country, for the NFL people actually want to watch and, lastly, for working out problems in an intelligent manner. That last one seems in particularly short supply, today.

  6. Excellent commentary. A small aside—Mr. Payton played for the Bears, Mr. Jordan was a Bull.

  7. I have had great respect for Jim Brown for years, a true and effective SJW, even if he isn’t a perfect human being like commenter Dan Lack. Players dishonoring our nation because we have yet to become a perfect union is akin to saying the game of football is stupid and evil if they don’t win every game.

    • Yes – Not perfect – a serial woman beater – You have great respect for a total scumbag

  8. I stopped watching NFL games last year and am happy with the extra time I have to do more meaningful things. Good job Colin. Spoiled man-child!

    • The college game is so much better and far more meaningful. Buckeyes!!

  9. The talk of the players’ “rights” is plainly stupid. They are at work, work which has one of the strictest dress codes in the world. Players get fined if skin shows in a gap between their pants and their socks.

    So all I want is for the NFL to state whether standing for the anthem is a work requirement or not, and if not, why not?

  10. Colin Kaepernick played for the San Francisco 49ers, a town where his action, and virtually any action that claims the US is evil, is almost guaranteed to gain support.

  11. His approach ensures that when Jim Brown does ask for change, people will actually be listening to him.

  12. I’ve read a lot of idiotic things in my day, but to manufacture a left wing conspiracy to bring down the NFL is beyond the pale. This makes black helicopter stories look calm and sane. Colin Kapernick exercised his rights as an American and is now black-listed a la McCarthyism. And I hate to burst your bubble about Jim Brown, but he has a long history of beating women.

    • What a perfectly irrelevant little leftist you are.

      • Well, I am a life long Republican who believes in civil liberties and individual freedom. Try reading the Constitution some time. I am not a member of the Trump coalition of brain dead, racist morons.

      • So, you are far to the left of Hillary, who called Trump supporters “deplorables” ?

        Kind of unusual for a “Republican.”

      • Hillary is nearly as corrupt as the Cheeto, but he takes the cake for being a completely loathsome, hate-spewing pig.

  13. “The NFL is a great product …” Ha ha ha ha ha ha!

    Turn off the TV and spurn its products, including the NFL, the NBA and ESPN, until they drop their SJW stances.

  14. Pamela Lange has said very well exactly what the NFL’s biggest problem is, a lack of adult leadership, and pointed out the biggest problem with the players, a failure to grow up. The leftist progressive liberal narrative, generally decrying our constitutional governance that requires its citizens to be well educated, rational, and law abiding has for the last 60 years attacked our public education system by infiltrating, and then teaching their narrative of violent destruction of our society and elevating one of government dependence and group think. They have succeeded. Fully half of our electorate has joined the membership of The Democratic Party in the take down of our government as it was when the constitution reigned, freedom, independence, and self sufficiency was the goal of the vast majority, and we were a prosperous nation. The NFL players who protest at inappropriate times in inappropriate places, in inappropriate ways are showing they do not have the education, maturity, and understanding to follow the very wise, highly intelligent, Christian based values, of the irascible Jim Brown.

    • It is actually a problem with all college kids – not just football players. They are taught not to grow up and to shiver at and whine about everything. Too

  15. Walter Payton played for the Bulls?? Wow, I must have missed that. And the fact that he broke Jim Brown’s rushing record while playing on a basketball team just further enhances his legacy in my book.

  16. When I read a newspaper article describing Kaepernick as an “NFL star”, I fought myself to keep from laughing out loud.

    Kaepernick’s “blacklisting” is due to the fact that he isn’t a good enough player for teams to take the risk of bringing him aboard. Someone who couldn’t hold the starting QB position on one of the worst teams in the NFL last year isn’t exactly Hall Of Fame material. If Kaepernick didn’t engage in his theatrics it’s possible that he would have been taken on by now -because coaching staffs would be secure in the knowledge that they can get rid of him without repercussion if things didn’t work out. With SJWs monitoring every move, Kaepernick is a distraction that coaching staffs don’t want or need.

    I’m sure that Goodell the PC weenie is working back channel to get some team to hire Kaepernick. i hope that he doesn’t succeed.

    • If he really wanted to play he could have gone to Canada. I’m sure he’s be a starter on some CFL team and got a nice paycheck to boot. But he doesn’t really want to play. He is a grandstand artist now. And everyone knows it.

      • Kaepernick thinks that SJWs in the media will force some team to hire him. And given the feckless nature of Goodell and the NFL brass, he could be right.

        If it does happen, the NFL and sports “analysts” will wonder why ratings continue to drop as the protests increase. It will take a financial emergency for the NFL to realize that it is a business, not a liberal college faculty lounge

      • At this point I don’t think he is good enough to be a starter in the NFL. He could start in the CFL and make some money and lose some of the stigma as well as get back some of of his skills. I don’t think he wants to play. He’d rather grandstand.

      • Kaepernick wasn’t good enough to be a starting NFL quarterback last year. He still has some value as a backup, though. He wants to play. And given the injuries to QBs that usually take place as the season winds down, some team that is out of contention and desperate might pick up someone like him. But a team bringing him on board now as an insurance policy, with all of his baggage, makes no sense.

  17. The NFL is not a great product, it’s a terrible one, tediously slow and boring. That game barely involves playing the ball with the foot at all, so it cannot rightly be called football. However as the TV documentary League of Denial and the book of the same name show very clearly, It does involve plenty of brain damage so brain damage ball is a very appropriate name for it.

    • You are a blithering idiot that doesn’t have clue one about football. Why post? To announce your stupidity to the world?

      • On the contrary, I am very familiar with brain damage ball as I grew up watching it. Since I saw League of Denial however, I haven’t watched it even once.

  18. Jim Brown has been a senile old fool for the past 30 years. For the author to be from Cleveland and not realize this is unforgivable. The Browns keep trying to remove himself and his outdated views from their organization but he won’t go away.

      • 30 years ago. These days his deluded ego is writing checks his body can’t cash.

  19. I am….once again….so impressed with Jim Brown. Content of our Character, folks….that’s what it’s about.

    • It’s a shame that white people apparently approve of cops murdering unarmed blacks. That’s what we’re learning from all the whining about this man’s peaceful and constitutionally protected protest. I hope you remember this when you people are the minority and YOUR children are being murdered y cops. The Karma train is coming.

  20. Way too many blacks embrace the idea of perpetual victimhood. The millionaires who do this are laughable but they do enormous damage by validating, in the minds of people who could have and should have done more with their lives, that they have an excuse. The racists in the room are black.

  21. These flag kneelers need to spend three hours at Arlington National Cemetery. Probably won’t do a bit of good…as the tombstones don’t identify the skin color of the dead.

    • I missed that memo where the flag is only the flag of the military and not all citizens. Could you email it to me? Thx.

  22. So, with respect to:

    “He shamed those players into civilized behavior.

    And that—not boycotts or harassment or complaining or wishy washy excuses—is how we should all handle these shameful tantrums. Shame them. Mock them. Scorn them. And let them know that until they actually want to do something meaningful in their lives that makes such protests credible, they’d best mind their manners and remember what they are being paid to do.”, do those prescribed actions also apply to Donald Trump?

  23. Jim Brown is a class act. He walked away from the game at his zenith. “I’m an American”. I wish they all would remember that.
    That flag, whether they like it, respect it, or not, is theirs as it is our all.

  24. Jim Brown is a remarkable man. True gravitas. Tough as nails. And absolutely right on this issue.
    In contrast, Kaepernick is a past-his-prime, has-been than never was, man child abusing his celebrity to insult the people whose love of his sport made him rich.
    Such a contrast.

  25. There are a lot of aspects to this story. But it is certainly true that Jim Brown grew to manhood in a different era, an era in which racism was not only more prevalent but more obvious. That is not to be an excuse for the racism that still exists but it is one explanation for why Jim Brown is such a powerful force in these discussions.
    I could not have said it as eloquently as Mr. Brown did, but I have been saying since this all began that it seemed to be disconnected from any real promise or effort toward change. Kaepernick was not doing anything on his own time, by his own efforts to change anything. Thats were many people, including myself, do not measure up to Mr. Brown. IN the process these “protests” measurably gained nothing other than to tick off those who are proud of their nation, warts and all.
    I can understand why many of my friends, and myself, are angry about the law enforcement shootings involving Black Americans, and I can understand why veterans are angry about how the protests look and what they mean. Many people have given up their time, parts of their bodies, not to mention those who have died to defend their nation. Thats a powerful connection. Two valid points, and it took Jim Brown to shed some clarity on the moment.

  26. Jim Brown has been exposed as a coon and it’s sad. I sincerely hope that he was paid well to betray his race because he has lost ALL credibility with blacks.

  27. Great article.. Jim Brown (a legend, no doubt) may have just single handily ended Kaepernick’s publicity stunt.

    I would add (also) the great words from George Foreman recently who also called out these protests, he noted that he himself (a world heavyweight champion) never felt more pride then he competed for the USA in Olympic boxing. As he stated, to “put on the red white and blue.”

    Agreed. The best way to stop these protests is to call them out. Shame them. Make it clear they’re not standing for America.. but Socialism.

  28. Too late for me-last year’s Broncos’ home opener when one took a knee and Elway didn’t go ballistic was it. Went cold turkey and now don’t hardly give it as thought.

  29. “The NFL’s method of handling the bad publicity was to pour money into studies and agree to a $1 billion class-action settlement for retired players and their families.”


    The NFL’s method of handling the bad publicity was to deny, deny, deny, for years.
    Then cave when it’s lies were exposed.

    Even FOX documented this

    Same modus operandi as tobacco, which lied about the dangers of smoking for 35 very profitable years.