The DEFEND Cleveland Show

A DC Show note to Jim Brown


I’ve now many times carefully read through the post by ESPN Cleveland’s Tony Grossi entitled, “Jim Brown, estranged from the Browns, and unimpressed with Trent Richardson”, which Grossi wrote after conducting a recent phone interview with Cleveland Browns legend Jim Brown. I took the extra time and thoroughness mostly because I wanted to be careful before I commented on it since I’ve been so critical of Mr. Brown after he was released by the Browns at the start of the Holmgren era. And in specific regards to why I’m cautious, it’s because it’s Jim Brown. He’s true Cleveland sports royalty as there ever is or was, so there’s more than a small part of me that feels wrong anytime I’m critical of him. It’s sort of similar to having an elderly relative say something you know just isn’t right. Something like what my grandmother once told me when I asked if she should still be driving with her poor eyesight and she said, “I have cataracts and can’t see across the room, but I only drive places where I know where I’m going”. Sure you don’t want to show any disrespect, but you also don’t want to let them hurt themselves either.

Even though it is Jim Brown we’re talking about here who, for right or wrong, I probably respect even more than my own grandmother, reading the overstated reverence Grossi has for him as he right away calls obtaining this particular interview with Brown the “Holy Grail of interview-seekers”, how can you already not suspect Grossi’s opinion might be biased.1 He then continues with a certain level of rose lens fondness sans the outlandish “Holy Grail” reference (seriously, anyone going to get turned into a newt or something here?)2 when he refers back to his first interviews and dialogues with Brown that go back some 30 years ago, and also how he comes from a generation whose “fathers adored him”. With such a stated and restated lifetime of respect Grossi offers here, which is in large why Tony was able to get the interview in the first place, I conversely feel pretty confident I’m not being overcritical, but rather, I’m just being more objective than most allow themselves to be here in Cleveland sports commentary whenever Mr. Brown opens his mouth and says something that doesn’t sound right. And that I’ll likely never get a Jim Brown Interview.

As Tony points out Jim Brown has of course never been afraid to speak his mind, it’s just that these days a lot of the relevance of his statements appear either tempered with frustration and even anger, or, antiquated and simply out of step with the times. In fact on some points, he’s just outright contradictory. For example, the whole reason Tony Grossi was seeking this interview was to follow up on the remarks Jim had said about Trent Richardson being nothing special only hours prior to the Browns trading up a spot to draft him with the number 3 overall pick. His exact words were, “he’s ordinary.” In this recent interview he clarifies by reiterating exactly how and why Richardson isn’t that special, but, and here’s where he leaves the 180 door open, that Trent still “can change everything that I’ve said.”

So he’s not special at the moment, but he can be. Um, isn’t that still kind of special? To have the potential to be special which Brown allows for here, seems like you would have to already be special or at least beyond anything you’d classify simply as ordinary. Right?

The real issue at play though is it’s just hard to read into anything Jim Brown has to say about the Browns these days because the current regime was the one that let him go. A move that Grossi points out is reported to have cost Jim an annual salary of $500k a year. Which let’s face facts here, was a salary he was collecting for what? Mostly just being Jim Brown?

I respect and admire Jim Brown, I really do. I respect and admire his history and how he played and approached the game, what he means to the Browns organization, all that he did for African American athletes, and all pro athletes for that matter. That’s a lot of respect. Heck, I even respect his movie career.3

Set respect and admiration aside for the sake of clearly following Jim’s statements though, and when you continue to read this interview onto where he says fans who think he’s just  bitter and resentful towards the franchise because he was fired are “petty and so ridiculous”, what exactly are these fans to believe when he immediately follows those statements by lashing out at Holmgren (the man credited for firing him)? Is Jim not guilty of the exact same charges he’s just made by doing this? And how can we not think this when his harsh criticisms and contempt appear more stated now than ever, at a time when the Browns actually look headed in the right direction led by the very same people he’s most critical of. Especially since his vocal cantankerousness was far less frequent, if present at all, under the previous regimes when he was on the payroll over the last decade plus when the Browns didn’t even look like they belonged on the same field against real NFL teams. And mostly because, they literally weren’t good enough to be on the same field with real NFL teams.

Where were his stinging digs about us “sitting on a mess” when GM Phil Savage was telling a fan to F-off and drafting 4-3 guys for Crennel’s 3-4 scheme, and when Butch Davis finally proved just how horrible he was at drafting talent by deciding to select a long snapper in the 5th round4, or how about when we finally hit bottom and we had Eric Mangini doing some good things except that the front office was in such disarray he essentially hired his own boss GM George Kokinis, to only see him fired midway through their first season after a 1-7 start just a little over a month before Holmgren was finally brought in. And I won’t even get started on the reboot of this franchise that began with Policy and Clark.

Now, if we’re sitting on a mess today, what were we sitting on all those years while you were hired by the team in an advisory capacity, Jim? Was it football hell? If there is such a place, the answer has to have been football hell. And I’ll take this mess by comparison with you not advising it and see where it gets us, thank you very much.

So forgive me, Mr. Brown, or don’t, because I’m going to choose to remember who you were and not base it at all on what you say or do now. I’m also not going to allow this respect I have for who you were give you too much leeway now when you utter criticisms that appear mostly unfounded, and do very much seem biased by the fact that you aren’t happy Holmgren cut you. Go ahead and call me petty and ridiculous if you feel you must, just know I’ll also not let what you have to say anymore cloud the history of how you should be best remembered. I will, however, let you know when it looks like you’re trying to hurt yourself.


-Mike James

  1. Since Brown made his comment on ESPN radio’s Scott Van Pelt Show about Trent Richardson being only “ordinary”, he has yet to do any follow up interviews, which in this case apparently merited Grossi to use biblical romanticism as an analogy. With so many fictional adaptations of this reference out there, know that I like to think of  it solely in terms of Monty Python and the Holy Grail []
  2. I warned you” – Tim the Enchanter []
  3. Well, except for playing Fireball in The Running Man that is. Let’s face it , no matter what sort of fond memories you might have for it, just like all Schwarzenegger films in the 80’s not named Conan, Terminator or Predator, that movie is absolute garbage []
  4. Alright, before some wackadoos try to argue that Ryan Pontbriand did have two Pro-Bowl selections to somehow merit this pick, let me remind you he was a long snapper drafted in the 5th round. There’s a reason why he was the highest ever selected long snapper in the Draft and it’s the same reason why that will forever stand. And with further proof for any still in doubt, if given a do-over, wouldn’t you rather have had 1 of the other 6 Pro-Bowl players selected after Pontbriand in the 2003 NFL Draft that play the positions of offensive tackle, center, safety, linebacker or wide receiver? Yes, yes you would []

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Posted by on May 28 2012. Filed under Featured, Show Reports. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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