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Jim Brown thinks the NFL should follow NASCAR’s lead on safety

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Jim Brown wants the NFL to be more like NASCAR.

Brown, the former Browns running back who’s regarded by many football historians as the greatest player in the history of the sport, says that NASCAR has been quicker to adopt changes to make its sport safer than the NFL has. Brown would like football to follow in the footsteps of auto racing in that respect.

We are way behind,” Brown told Terry Blount of ESPN.com. “NASCAR stepped up their safety concepts, and I think the drivers feel NASCAR is doing everything that can be done. So we are a little behind NASCAR in that respect. Someone in NASCAR realized there were certain things that could be done to make it safer. The same thing has to happen in football. It’s two different sports, but you want to make sure it’s as safe as you can make it.”

NASCAR has taken steps like installing safer walls at tracks, required drivers to use head and neck restraints and redesigned cars to make them drivers safer in crashes. Brown thinks the NFL is a step behind NASCAR.

“This is the first time [the NFL] has really taken the safety situation seriously,” Brown said. “Part of that was forced on them because of the concussion lawsuits, but I think when we come out of this we’ll have a much safer game without taking away from the impact of the game.”

For his own part, the 77-year-old Brown says he’s doing fine and doesn’t have any health problems that he attributes to his playing career.

“I would be dishonest to say I was suffering from anything,” Brown said.

But Brown still hopes the NFL can do more to ensure that other players stay healthy long into retirement.

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61 Responses to “Jim Brown thinks the NFL should follow NASCAR’s lead on safety”
  1. gadgetdawg says: Jun 9, 2013 5:07 PM

    The difference is that the changes NASCAR has made doesn’t change the nature of the sport. Most of the rule changes the NFL has put in place do.

    Making a NASCAR driver wear a new type of safety harness is a change that doesn’t effect the product the fan sees, it just makes the drivers safer. What the NFL does, like changing the yard line kickoffs are done at and how tackling is handled actually changes the game. So of course the NFL has to move slower.

    If all the safety advocates asked the NFL for was safer helmets or more padding in various places then they could move with like speeds. Go ahead and tell NASCAR that drivers should be suspended from the sport for a year for contact or that drivers would be safer if no one exceeded 100 mph and see how fast that happens. I mean both would make the sport safer right?

  2. thesmartest1 says: Jun 9, 2013 5:09 PM

    The NFL is doing a fantastic job of collecting fines and seem to be doing just enough to satisfy the masses with safety. Hmm…

  3. macker1283 says: Jun 9, 2013 5:10 PM

    When you watch games on the NFL Network from the 80s and 90s, the one thing that jumps out at you are the size of the padding worn by the offensive players, such as the WRs and RBs. Maybe along with cracking down on big hits, the NFL should also force WRs to actually wear some pads. Oh but they wouldn’t do that because that would crack down on speed and scoring.

  4. 1pwrightt says: Jun 9, 2013 5:12 PM

    Wow. Jim Brown not talking about just “him” for a change.

  5. Dusty Grey says: Jun 9, 2013 5:12 PM

    Of course he forgets to mention that most of those modern safety improvement happened after Dale Earnhardt died during a race. If the NFL had an on field death, I’m sure the league would be just as swift to make changes, and consequently the game as we know it.

    NASCAR is a sport that (tries to) avoids contact, where in the NFL contact is an inherent part of the game, so this is a bit like apples and oranges with a bit of revisionist history (a particular talent of Brown).

  6. lovetron says: Jun 9, 2013 5:15 PM

    Can Jim Brown just go away, please?

  7. fafaflunky says: Jun 9, 2013 5:16 PM

    @gadgetdawg..
    well said i totally agree..

  8. thebigtebowski says: Jun 9, 2013 5:18 PM

    Gadgetsawg…well said

  9. underlinebmx says: Jun 9, 2013 5:20 PM

    They all know what they signed up for in the NFL or NASCAR

  10. finsfan4life1977 says: Jun 9, 2013 5:22 PM

    The NFL is similar to our government in that they think they’re invincible. To a certain extent, they’re right. Very few like what they’re doing, but at the end of the day, people will still follow along, no matter what.

  11. bender4700 says: Jun 9, 2013 5:25 PM

    as a NASCAR fan…

    It’s not just safer barrier walls and restraints.

    They’ve changed rules too. Bumping and aggressive driving is not tolerated nearly as much as the old days.

    You used to see lots of bumping and dangerous driving, but NASCAR has taken a lot of that out which has directly affected the sport. So no, the rule changes have not left the competition alone.

    BUT the sport adapted and the excitement remains, just not the same way it was before. But to say the actual racing wasn’t affected is not true at all.

  12. gary2525 says: Jun 9, 2013 5:33 PM

    The way the NFL is going in about 10 years it will be flag football. They should just wrap everyone up in bubble wrap.

  13. kd75 says: Jun 9, 2013 5:35 PM

    All it took for NASCAR to wake up was Dale Earnhard to die in a seemingly innocuous crash.

    Everybody involved knows the risks. If the risks make you uncomfortable, go be an accountant. Or work at a car wash.

    You want the paycheck, play the game and don’t complain after you get the boot.

  14. nahcouldntbethat says: Jun 9, 2013 5:38 PM

    From a systems and structure point of view the NFL is making big strides on the safety issues although there is a lot more to be done.

    From an individual and franchise compliance point of view the efforts have been woeful so far. There needs to be a much stronger accountability factor involved on issues where players take the field when by the guidelines they should be sidelined.

  15. thestrategyexpert says: Jun 9, 2013 5:38 PM

    The NFL does NOT have to move slower. They just have chosen to do so because they haven’t come up with the most efficient and strategic ways to make the game safer without affecting the intensity of the game. It’s up to the NFL to figure out the best of the both worlds, and they have not been able to execute on doing a good job in that regard. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible to come up with great changes to satisfy both concerns.

    I agree with Jim Brown.

  16. patfic15 says: Jun 9, 2013 5:40 PM

    I hate NASCAR and don’t listen to Brown… I can’t even imagine what he means.

  17. watchfullhose says: Jun 9, 2013 5:41 PM

    Jim Brown’s mustache has a mustache.

  18. thisonesforpat says: Jun 9, 2013 5:50 PM

    The fact that Steve Atwater, Randy Gradishar and Dennis Smith could not afford to pay today’s fines, the way they played, I don’t think the NFL “…will have a much safer game without taking away from the impact of the game.”

    The impact is here! The game HAS ALREADY CHANGED!!

  19. johnelwayishorsefaced says: Jun 9, 2013 5:59 PM

    He’s not suffering from anything but I’m pretty sure that a lot of people who tried to tackle him probably are

  20. b3nz0z says: Jun 9, 2013 6:09 PM

    What’s this “we,” mr brown?

  21. mlmike25 says: Jun 9, 2013 6:11 PM

    The NFL needs to issue a challenge to the private sector to provide safer pads and helmets. I cant believe they’re not using more shock absorbing materials

  22. bobzilla1001 says: Jun 9, 2013 6:18 PM

    Brown isn’t “suffering from anything” because when he played, he was the biggest, strongest and most powerful player on the field. He was a man among boys…
    All the NFL needs to do to make the game safer is teach its players how to tackle, a lost art since the 1980s.
    It should be mandatory that every player in the league watch videos of former Steelers linebacker Jack Ham. He wrapped but never launched, a technique that produced numerous forced fumbles.

  23. cbass59 says: Jun 9, 2013 6:26 PM

    Was Drew Breeze given an explanation?

  24. gerard33 says: Jun 9, 2013 6:27 PM

    Why would he have lingering effects? He’s the reason other guys do

  25. bgdabengal says: Jun 9, 2013 6:33 PM

    Besides continuing to upgrade current equipment and enforcing a small knee brace.. I don’t see what the NFL could do without changing the product.

  26. laserw says: Jun 9, 2013 6:40 PM

    NFL helmets should have softer materials on the outside of the hard current exterior to help absorb some of the impact – perhaps if the exterior of the helmets was carbon fiber it could be thinner – interior would still have softer material with the new exterior sandwiching the current outer layer. Or maybe there is a “honeycomb” center layer between the two padded areas that help to dissipate the impact – actually having the helmet to deform and when two players with deforming helmets impact, that would absorb a lot of energy – I’m sure that there is a way to fill the honeycomb with foam to provide max durability – helmets would not be able to be used beyond one game to protect players – that would be costly, but less so than lawsuits.

    Also there should be not be a gap between the helmet and the shoulder pads – that gap should be filled with something that absorbs energy – not rigid – but it helps prevent whiplash neck injuries.

    While it is not possible to make NFL football “safe” – there are things that can be done to make it “safer”

    There also needs to be a maximum weight for players – maybe if the weights can get down to 280 or less, this would also help – even might help with long term health of the players. Getting the disparity between the lightest player and the heaviest seems to be very important.

  27. vols84 says: Jun 9, 2013 6:44 PM

    Every time I see a headline about Jim Brown I cringe.

  28. kuranda84 says: Jun 9, 2013 6:57 PM

    I think Jim Brown should punch fewer women.

  29. longdrive2011 says: Jun 9, 2013 7:13 PM

    This would have been interesting to read if he had actually put forth some ideas to make the game safer. On thing that does leap out is the fact that this guy got pounded and pounded back as much as almost any player in history and he seems pretty damn coherent to me.

    If concussions and their effects are that hit and miss then there is only one solution – ban the game of football at all levels. I’m not for this, mind you, just pointing out how ridiculous this is. Big business, from the NFL to selling soap has lost it’s soul and spine and is willing to grovel at the slightest hint of a lawsuit or fake public outcry created by the manipulative as an old hag media.

  30. hornbuckle says: Jun 9, 2013 7:21 PM

    That’s the first intelligent thing I’ve ever heard him say.

  31. davidmemphis says: Jun 9, 2013 7:29 PM

    Jim Brown is an idiot. I’m old school, yes. It’s football people. It is a dangerous sport, period. Explain the risks to the potential participants, ask them if want to engage in the activities, and, if so, have them sign a waiver of understanding. These players are not sitting in an automobile, they are running full blast with padding that is used to protect them, as well as used as weapons. Again, it’s football. It’s already been wussified enough in my opinion. Did I mention Jim Brown is an idiot? This is not some rant, I have very personal opinions of ‘mister’ brown. One as a great, great player. Another of a moron that will pull the race card any chance he gets, regardless of information.

  32. brucefan1 says: Jun 9, 2013 7:53 PM

    Haha! Some of you guys kill me!

    Its REAL obvious that a lotta rednecks here still have big problems with “uppity” black guys who “don’t know their place” “running their mouths” and “rocking the boat”.

    Brown knew he hadda deal with this bilge in 1963, but probably never thought it would still be spewing 50 years later! LOL!

  33. satchboogie69 says: Jun 9, 2013 8:01 PM

    LOL.. Safer barrier walls and most other improvements were first installed in Indy Cars. Indy Motor Speedway was the first track to put safer barrier walls in, it was done for the Indy 500. Most of the track and equipment changes made to racing started in Indy cars. All Nekcar did was copy the things Indy Car was doing.

  34. dartwick says: Jun 9, 2013 8:08 PM

    This is the smartest thing Jim Brown is has said in 40 or so years.

  35. wwwmattcom says: Jun 9, 2013 8:45 PM

    Nothing wrong with getting a concussion, as long as you report it. When players realize that the best thing for the TEAM is to sit out (mental toughness) for a concussion or any other debilitating injury then football will be safer. Accidents happen. Unfortunately if a car crashes you buy a new bumper. When a football player is injured you go to the depth chart. Depth charts should be bigger , salary caps should be larger and quarters should be limited. Limit exposure limit injuries. Game doesn’t change, coaches get more creative second string gets more important.

  36. bucfandango says: Jun 9, 2013 8:54 PM

    NASCAR slowed down the speeds with the safety changes to the cars. If you can slow down the game you will lessen the impacts. You also have to find a way to protect the players joints from unnatural twists and bends. The only thing I can see is complete body armor, head to toe, Mobil-Suit. It has to be lightweight, flexible but rigid when impacted, especially in the joints like a knee brace does. This would slow the game dramatically and also make it harder for QB’s to throw. Softer outer shells on helmets also makes sense. The other thing is to soften the playing surface with padding under turf. All this slows everything down and lessens the impacts. In time it will all speed back up. The logical thing is to do nothing.

  37. tampajoey2 says: Jun 9, 2013 8:55 PM

    “Jim Brown thinks”… you lost me after that.

  38. truths4all says: Jun 9, 2013 9:04 PM

    Of course he is not suffering from any lingering medical issues. Jim Brown still is a physical anomaly and prodigy. Brown never lifted weights in his entire life. The closest physical prodigy is Bo Jackson who also never lifted any weights until he entered the pros.

  39. mazblast says: Jun 9, 2013 9:13 PM

    ““I would be dishonest to say I was suffering from anything,” Brown said.”

    Anything that tried to infect or otherwise harm Jim Brown would be making a bad career choice. Badder than old King Kong, meaner than a junkyard dog. Badder than even Deacon Jones (RIP). Baddest…pro…athlete…ever.

  40. istateyourname says: Jun 9, 2013 9:23 PM

    Jim Brown, Jim Brown say that? THE Jim Brown? Not some other Jim Brown? Are you sure?

  41. abninf says: Jun 9, 2013 9:29 PM

    NASCAR now has half empty seating. Television ratings have plummeted. They got away from their roots and it’s just not as cool anymore. The NFL needs to take a lesson from that.

  42. jerrygray721 says: Jun 9, 2013 9:46 PM

    I have a hard time with this issue. I am all for player safety but there is a line that needs to be drawn at some point before we lose the game altogether.
    as for some of these former players and these lawsuits that have been filed I may sound cold but I have a hard time feeling sorry for players that made millions and millions but yet could not seem to put any of it away for a rainy day and I also have a hard time feeling sorry for that same type of person who knew they had made a choice to play a violent sport and be well compensated for it and turn around after the fact and blame the nfl for not doing enough to protect them they knew what they were doing when they suited up no one held a gun to their head and made them do it and a lot of them made more in their playing days than many average people would make in 4 life times.
    we all make our choices in life and we all pay our dues in the end based on those choices so I would ask them why should someone else have to pay for their choices?

  43. eagleswin says: Jun 9, 2013 9:50 PM

    I wonder if Jim Brown knows the NFLPA has fought for the players rights to NOT have to wear the latest concussion resistant helmets and have also fought for the players to not have to wear all the padding the NFL recommends. It would be a cold day in hades before a player points out the hypocrisy of the NFLPA in player safety.

  44. flankerright says: Jun 9, 2013 10:18 PM

    “satchboogie69 says:
    Jun 9, 2013 8:01 PM
    LOL.. Safer barrier walls and most other improvements were first installed in Indy Cars. Indy Motor Speedway was the first track to put safer barrier walls in, it was done for the Indy 500. Most of the track and equipment changes made to racing started in Indy cars. All Nekcar did was copy the things Indy Car was doing.”

    Yeah and just because the guy that invented the toothbrush he saved all the teeth in the world. Your comment is shallow, NASCAR has improved its safety leaps and bounds since 2001. It’s just as important to continue to improve safety as it is to invent it. The NFL needs to improve its safety, requiring all players to wear full pads is BS, however making smaller pads will prevent the players from flying in to tackle or lower there shoulder to take on a hit. Having suffered a shoulder stinger from football and a concussion I can tell you that one is not better than the other and it did change the way that I played.

  45. bobwoolsey says: Jun 9, 2013 10:28 PM

    @dartwick I couldn’t agree more – don’t like him but truth is truth.

  46. 13arod says: Jun 9, 2013 10:40 PM

    nascar is more safer then the nfl but nascar could still have improvenments

  47. dansharks says: Jun 9, 2013 10:44 PM

    Really??? As a racing fan and a football fan I find this hilarious. NASCRAP is last among the premiere racing series when it comes to safety. HANS device was created for open wheel drivers originally, most NASCRAP drivers refused to use it initially. Safer walls, developed for Indy Cars at the Indy 500. They only get recognition because they are biggest (not necessarily the best racing series) in the states. Most of their safety improvements came after open wheel and sports cars led the way in safety innovation.
    NFL should follow series where safety improvements that are breaking ground like F1 and IndyCar or the NHRA who saw safety issues arise with drivers and made significant changes immediately before and after a tragic events to improve driver safety, not the hillbilly series.

  48. ilovefoolsball says: Jun 10, 2013 12:54 AM

    Nascar has more deaths than any other sport.
    Real safe Jim.

  49. seaeagle707 says: Jun 10, 2013 1:19 AM

    Oh well, there goes running backs drafting the fullbacks (lead blockers).

    BTW Jimbo, have you noticed what happens at a NASCAR track when a car gets airborne and plows into a safety fence? People get hurt, spectator type people, you and me type people. But I don’t hear the spectators yelling for NASCAR to change the racing to make it safer for the crowd. There comes a point in sports where if you make it too mundane, people won’t watch it anymore. Be very careful what you wish for…….

  50. greenmeattruck says: Jun 10, 2013 1:54 AM

    So sad to see ONE of the greatest players ever embrace the pussification being forced on the NFL by Goodell and the lawyers. I liked football better when only men watched it.

  51. louhudson23 says: Jun 10, 2013 5:31 AM

    Put them in shorts and tee shirts….they will begin to tackle again(truly a lost art) and no longer feel so damn invincible….And all those who feel this is somehow pussifying the game can go play (or simply watch) a rugby game…. rough,tough and dangerous(and hardly immune from injury,but self preservation is a limiting factor not distorted by armored protection….

  52. montezumasdaddy says: Jun 10, 2013 5:45 AM

    Since NASCAR has implemented some of their safety rules the quality of the racing has taken a dive as well as its popularity. NASCAR should be a model for what not to do.

  53. 12fairview says: Jun 10, 2013 8:47 AM

    Jim brown has stopped beating on women, now he has become an authority on everything..what an ego and to think people still rever him as a great person..dig into his background and you will find a very bad person…lives in the past..should just go away

  54. mungman69 says: Jun 10, 2013 9:51 AM

    There are many materials that could be placed inside helmets to make them better. These helmets may be a bit larger but so what. The technology is here, the NFL just has to push the players union into accepting these changes.

  55. mungman69 says: Jun 10, 2013 9:53 AM

    Dale Ernhardt, Sr. isnt the only driver to die behind the wheel but since his death NASCAR has made many changes to make racing safer. The NFL can do the same.

  56. cdan374 says: Jun 10, 2013 10:14 AM

    I liked him better when he wore that cool green kufi cap…

    He should lobby the NFLPA to demand safety measures in their next contract; after all Drew Brees is on the Executive Committee and look how great they did negotiating the last contract…

  57. christophershearin says: Jun 10, 2013 10:29 AM

    the only safety measure the NFL needs to inmplement is a waiver. The players need to sign a wavier stating they understand they are being paid millions of dollars to beat the hell out of each other. If they are un-willing to sign such a waiver, they should not be allowed to play.

    Seriously though, most athletes are dumb as rocks, but even they have to know playing the game will affect their long term health….

    If they are willing to accept a huge payday, then they should accept the consequences of their actions……

  58. sportnman says: Jun 10, 2013 10:44 AM

    @bender4700

    bender4700 says:Jun 9, 2013 5:25 PM

    as a NASCAR fan…

    It’s not just safer barrier walls and restraints.

    They’ve changed rules too. Bumping and aggressive driving is not tolerated nearly as much as the old days.

    You used to see lots of bumping and dangerous driving, but NASCAR has taken a lot of that out which has directly affected the sport. So no, the rule changes have not left the competition alone.

    BUT the sport adapted and the excitement remains, just not the same way it was before. But to say the actual racing wasn’t affected is not true at all.

    EXCELLENT point!

  59. staff2cj says: Jun 10, 2013 11:56 AM

    I didn’t know NASCAR was a sport!!!

  60. istateyourname says: Jun 10, 2013 12:05 PM

    I think the confusion comes in because there are only 2 Jim Brown stories since the 1960’s. They are 1) Jim Brown is on Bad Terms with the Cleveland Browns and; 2) Jim Brown is on Good Terms with the Cleveland Browns. So this NFL safety thing is just so out-of-left-field story about Jim Brown…

  61. humpofdc says: Jun 10, 2013 12:09 PM

    When the GREATEST NFL player of all times speaks…..listen.

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