|Namath has been critical of Mark Sanchez. Brown says Trent Richardson is 'ordinary.' (US Presswire)|
Jim Brown has long been, well, outspoken. He once said the FBI, CIA and cops were out to get him. He wasn't wrong. He once told movie goddess Raquel Welch to go to hell. He's called the modern black athlete "the most embarrassing collection of individuals I have ever known."
Joe Namath has long been, well, outspoken. At a time when people wanted their athletes humble, Namath's body composition was half smack talk and half gravitas. He made a Super Bowl prediction that would go down in history.
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The outspokenness of both would continue for decades and hasn't stopped even now. Few have been more critical of their old teams than Namath, and Brown recently went to a place few Hall of Famers go when speaking of their former team.
"I think the kid is a good working back, and if you've got everything else around him, he can play his role," Brown told WKNR in Cleveland. "But when it comes to outstanding, I don't see anything outstanding about him. It's not said in a cruel manner. He's very efficient, and that's what you want."
He added, "I'm not trying to be mean. There are certain people you look at and there's something special about them. I don't see it."
Then Brown said this about team president Mike Holmgren: "What have I said about the Browns other than the fact that Richardson is an ordinary back? There's so much I could say. So you tell all those people that want to look at me, look at what you've got. You're sitting on a mess. You've got a guy that doesn't give interviews except in other cities. I ask all the people in Cleveland, do you get the impression that Mr. Holmgren wants to be there? If you do, then tell me."
Jim Brown ... shy.
The constant squabbling between Brown, Namath and their teams remains an underrated and interesting story. Brown is the best player in NFL history, from one of the most storied franchises in league history, and both hate each other. Namath produced one of the great moments in NFL history playing for the Jets, and they seem to just tolerate one another.
It's not unprecedented for stars to rip their teams, but stars of this magnitude doing it rare. I just don't remember too many times Bart Starr ripped his team. Can't recall the last time Roger Staubach ripped Tony Romo. It's possible Eric Dickerson has taken to the airwaves multiple times to rip the Rams and I missed it.
The odd thing is that when Brown and Namath played, both despised being criticized. Thus, stabbing their franchises repeatedly in the back makes them hypocrites.
While what Brown said about Richardson seems perhaps horribly unfair, he might actually be right. I believe Richardson's running style might not translate well into the NFL, and I'm one of the few people who don't believe he will be a star. I also think the Holmgren-run Browns have done practically nothing. In fact, disaster isn't an unfair word to use when describing Holmgren's tenure.
Still, there's something unseemly about what Brown is doing. Namath as well. Honest? Yes. Being Jim Brown? Check. Does Brown have a right because of the cred he has earned as the best football player of all time? Fair enough. Namath because he's the best Jet ever. Yes. It all still just seems ... petty.
Particularly when it comes to Brown at least. Holmgren fired Brown from the organization several years ago.
We've seen others do this, like former Giant Tiki Barber, but there's something almost hypnotic watching two eternal stars from another generation do it.
Brown was never a perfect person, but despite some tremendous failings he still lived a heroic life. Namath was always more substantive than his legendary lady rep. They are huge figures in NFL history.
And they now look extremely small.