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Jim Brown says he didn’t need to use his head to run

Jim Brown AP

Some running backs are worried about a rule that would prevent them from initiating contact with the crown of their helmets outside the tackle box.

But the guy who doled out as much punishment as he ever received said he didn’t see a problem with it.

I didn’t use my head,” Hall of Famer Jim Brown said, via Newsday’s Tom Rock. “I used my forearm. The palm of my hand. And my shoulder. And my shoulder pads. I wasn’t putting my head into too much of anything. I don’t think that’s a good idea.

“At least it doesn’t sound like a good idea to me if I’m not guaranteed that my head is going to be strong enough to hurt somebody else and not hurt myself.”

All-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith was among the first critical of the proposed rule, saying it was “almost impossible” to not lower your head going into contact.

“Emmitt probably used his head,” Brown said. “I don’t know.”

“Nobody I ever broke bread with, and I see players all the time, talked about using their head running the football. I’ve seen Barry Sanders and Eric Dickerson and Marcus Allen and Franco Harris and we’ve all been together — we were all together at the Super Bowl — and no one talked about using their head.”

If the league gets its way, no one will, either.

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46 Responses to “Jim Brown says he didn’t need to use his head to run”
  1. logicalvoicesays says: Mar 18, 2013 6:36 PM

    The greatest RB in the history of professional Football is called John Riggins.

  2. ghjjf says: Mar 18, 2013 6:36 PM

    Any player that uses their head as a battering ram is a fool.

  3. damnsureis says: Mar 18, 2013 6:38 PM

    Jim Brown has rarely used his head for anything.

  4. bnwpnw says: Mar 18, 2013 6:42 PM

    Jim Brown says a lot of things.

  5. theecowardlylion says: Mar 18, 2013 6:42 PM

    “I didn’t use my head,” Hall of Famer Jim Brown said.

    Jim, nobody has accused you of ever using your head.

  6. george1859 says: Mar 18, 2013 6:43 PM

    Jim Brown this….and Jim Brown that…
    Only Cleveland cares about what this bum has to say….

  7. azarkhan says: Mar 18, 2013 6:44 PM

    Earl Campbell used his head on Rams linebacker Isiah Robertson in one of the most famous runs ever, and Jim Brown was there.

  8. randallflagg52 says: Mar 18, 2013 6:45 PM

    He hasn’t used his head much sine the mid 90’s.

  9. roadtrip3500 says: Mar 18, 2013 6:48 PM

    A couple more… Walter Payton had a devastating stiff arm. Earl Campbell mowed you down like a runaway truck.

    You see RBs now with huge muscular arms, but they forget they’re allowed to use them. Instead, they fear losing a fumble and getting benched, so they cover up and crouch for the hit. Jim Brown’s right on this one.

  10. micknangold says: Mar 18, 2013 6:48 PM

    Jim Brown used his forearm because he could knock you clean out cold with it.

  11. seanx40 says: Mar 18, 2013 6:52 PM

    Jim Brown practiced that stiff arm on every woman he ever met.

  12. dukemarc says: Mar 18, 2013 6:55 PM

    Jim, you were 6’2″ and weighed 232 – the only guys bigger than you on the field were the four D-Lineman you ran past in your first 3 steps.

    Of course you didn’t use your head, you were a physical freak for your time.

  13. Iknoweverything says: Mar 18, 2013 7:09 PM

    Quite a few players don’t use their heads.

    Kenny Britt, Dez Bryant, Johnny Jolly, Ben Roethlesberger, etc

  14. nite2al says: Mar 18, 2013 7:14 PM

    Seems kinda hard not to use your head on short yardage runs at the goal line.

  15. lanzurrah says: Mar 18, 2013 7:17 PM

    I’d love to see Jim Brown run against modern day defenses. He was bigger and faster than most defensive players he played against…part-time defensive players, mind you.

  16. kpow55 says: Mar 18, 2013 7:17 PM

    Ask Barry what he thinks and go with that.

    Given the career he had behind O-Lines he had to deal with, his opinion should hold some weight more so than J Brown or E Smith.

  17. zachintosh66 says: Mar 18, 2013 7:22 PM

    Why are we still caring what Jim Brown says?

  18. thestrategyexpert says: Mar 18, 2013 7:23 PM

    And Dan Marino didn’t use his head either, he used his throwing arm. He probably thought using his head to bash into players was not a good idea to advance the ball either. Some players have different types of skills and work off of the attributes that are unique and advantageous to them. Such as in the case with some RBs who DO think it’s a good idea to use your head. You not being one of them bears no relevance on this topic.

    So do you have any actual points to offer regarding THIS topic of other players being allowed to use their heads?

  19. nomoreseasontix says: Mar 18, 2013 7:39 PM

    And bends steel with his bare hands…
    Leaps tall buildings….

    Jim Brown was a great player, but I’m sick of his BS.
    Just shut up already.

  20. bbwasright says: Mar 18, 2013 7:50 PM

    Jim Brown also didn’t play in an era with 240lb safeties with 4.4 speed who bench 300lbs and are just hoping for the opportunity to hit a RB with only one arm on the ball. Jim Brown didn’t play in a league where a starting RB can get benched for a single fumble.

    It’s easy for the great RBs from days gone by to judge how the game is played now. But I seriously doubt that Jim Brown inn his greatest days could make it in this league today.

  21. patssteelersorgiants says: Mar 18, 2013 7:51 PM

    So tired of Jim Brown commenting on everything. He’s the NFL equivalent of George Mikan, he was bigger than everyone else at the time so he thinks he was the best ever. Sorry pal, go line up for some of those concussion payouts because you got hit too many times.

  22. strokeytheclown says: Mar 18, 2013 7:56 PM

    Don’t you just love the losers who post on here with really nothing to say, just to let everyone know who their favorite team is? We all know who they are.

  23. getyourownname says: Mar 18, 2013 8:00 PM

    If I were him, I would not admit this, because the other possible explanations for various events are far less appealing.

  24. footballfather says: Mar 18, 2013 8:01 PM

    And Jim Brown hasn’t played against today’s defenses, either. He’d get obliterated in the first game he played if he didn’t lower his shoulder against defenders. But let the old man think what he wants. He was excellent back then.

  25. dallascowboysdishingthereal says: Mar 18, 2013 8:03 PM

    Jim “the frickin’ man” Brown didn’t need a helmet! That’s for these P-words that play today.

    RBs who use their heads risk a neck injury. That’s part of the concern.

  26. noring4youstill says: Mar 18, 2013 8:22 PM

    Why can’t he just forget what he used to do

  27. miguel3557 says: Mar 18, 2013 8:25 PM

    Jim Brown was a great running back, a graceful, muscular back who carried tacklers, sometimes more than one. But I’ve been watching the NFL for almost 60 years, and one thing that has changed dramatically during those years is the fierceness of linebacker and safety hits on runners and receivers. There were mean linebackers–Dick Butkus and Ray Nitschke, but neither ran with the velocity and power of today’s linebackers and there weren’t any 230 pound safeties knocking the stuffing out of receivers and runners who crossed their paths.

    As strong as Jim Brown was, he was only 232 pounds, and his forearm shivers would still work but only some of the time. And, if I recall correctly, Jim Brown was never injured in his 9+ years in the league. I don’t think he gets away uninjured the way linebackers and secondaries sometimes hold up runners to be tackled by other players today and how erect he ran. For a man his size, he had unusual grace.

    As to political or racial views he’s expressed over the years, (1) what’s that got to do with what he said about not using his helmet when tackled, (2) he’s entitled to believe whatever he likes under our First Amendment, and (3) can conservatives ever give their political views a rest–this is a sports blog, not a meeting of CPAC fans.

  28. whatchutalkinabouthillis says: Mar 18, 2013 8:28 PM

    I think it’s clear to anyone that listened to Emmitt speak that he used his head quite a bit.

  29. hendeeze says: Mar 18, 2013 8:52 PM

    I wasn’t alive when Jim Brown was in his prime. It’s unfortunate my generation only knows this man as, the guy who was once good, and now won’t shutup.

  30. countyk66ers says: Mar 18, 2013 9:01 PM

    Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all time.

  31. dretwann says: Mar 18, 2013 9:24 PM

    If you’re asked a question should you not answer?! Is it his fault folks seek him out for his take on the issues in question? You folks need some perspective. You act like he is hunting down reporters or holding press conferences just to air his opinion. I mean, no one asked any of us our opinion yet we feel real free to do so. Stop hating and get a life.

  32. RedRuffensor says: Mar 18, 2013 9:28 PM

    Jim has it right. If the deliberate helmet-hits cause brain trauma and damage, then they must be outlawed. Football is a sport, not some activity where we should take pleasure in the crippling of the participants. For anyone who disagrees, how are you any different than a spectator in the Roman Colosseum 2,000 years ago whooping it up and ooo-ing and aww-ing when one gladiator brutally wounded or killed another, or a lion mauled a Christian? Try to remember players like Junior Seau, Dave Duerson, Mike Webster, etc., etc., who suffered brain trauma and ended-up either severely mentally and/or emotionally damaged or committed suicide as the result.

  33. snowpea84 says: Mar 18, 2013 9:32 PM

    Jim Brown needs to stop saying so much. He sounds more out of touch every time he opens his mouth. Defenders are bigger, stronger, and faster than ever before, stop pretending the guys you were stiff arming are the same guys that are out there now.

  34. abninf says: Mar 18, 2013 9:48 PM

    Earl Campbell used his head and he’s the greatest in NFL history. BTW why isn’t Brown wearing that little colorful cap?

  35. cmdrsmooth says: Mar 18, 2013 10:03 PM

    He’s right. Way to go Goodell.

  36. qmizzle says: Mar 18, 2013 10:37 PM

    Once again it’s all about technique… You should never ever ever EVER drop your head the moment before contact… That’s how you get serious injured or die.. The helmet is to protect you.. Not to be used as a weapon.. And yes, if you keep your head up at all times you can use your shoulder pads to run someone over instead of the crown of your helmet..

  37. qmizzle says: Mar 18, 2013 10:40 PM

    Also, who are any of you to criticize this mans opinion when it comes to football… 90% of you couldn’t even fit a jersey over your shoulder pads let alone argue about technique..

  38. goldenperspective says: Mar 18, 2013 10:51 PM

    Had Jim Brown had the same training and diet these athletes have today, he might be Brandon Jacobs sized with Adrian Peterson’s skill set. I think it is silly to say he couldn’t play today if he were in this generation. He might find it necessary to lower his noggin every one in a while, but he could play.

  39. nickm923 says: Mar 18, 2013 10:55 PM

    If JB was a “freak of nature” compared to the players of the 50’s & 60’s, don’t you thing if he was born 40 or 50 years later and was in the prime of his career now he he would still be a faster and stronger? The type of person he turned out to be not withstanding, he was and still is the standard we measure all RB’s by.

  40. footballfather says: Mar 18, 2013 11:12 PM

    It’s the RB’s choice to lower his head. Not his choice if he gets hit in the head illegally by a defender. RB chooses his fate if he lowers his head. They know the risk when they sign up to play this sport. If they so choose to lower their head, so be it. Shouldn’t be a penalty.

  41. bigbenh8tr says: Mar 18, 2013 11:48 PM

    haha riggins isn’t even in the top 20 rbs of the last 20 years

  42. bigbenh8tr says: Mar 18, 2013 11:51 PM

    Riggins would be a fb today big man, and would never get 1, 000 yds w todays quick defenses. Jim brown/oj simpson didn’t use their head. sanders would have had to if he played long enough to lose his speed.

  43. wferg1121 says: Mar 19, 2013 2:52 AM

    Now days RB have to keep 2 hands on the ball.. Everyone is going for strip fumbles more than ever. Chicago Bears defense makes a living doing that.
    The NFL claims they reviewed game tapes from last year and saw 5 plays where the new rule would have a flag thrown… If thats the case why make a new rule?? leave it alone… Fans just want the game left alone!

  44. kwjsb says: Mar 19, 2013 7:10 AM

    Jim Brown never lead with his head playing football, now when it comes to glass doors he always lead with his woman’s head.

  45. jseaberry says: Mar 19, 2013 7:32 AM

    By this time next year he will have forgotten what he said/thought this year, and claim he used his head.

  46. melikefootball says: Mar 19, 2013 8:06 AM

    When did Jim play, come on the game has grown five fold since then.

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