Jim Brown offers encouragement, caution for athletes seeking change

Almost a month after Colin Kaepernick sparked national debates with his choice to sit during the national anthem to bring attention to what he describes as oppression of minorities in America (make no mistake, these turned out to be different debates), Jim Brown may have delivered the definitive take.

Speaking to local media at his alma mater, Syracuse, the Cleveland Browns great came as close as anyone has to fully encapsulating the complicated case of Kaepernick’s protest as it relates to the flag, the anthem and related symbolism and reaction.


“You can point it out but you don’t necessarily want to disrespect the national anthem or the flag,” Brown said.

“There are outside entities that are trying to bring this country down. We have to go back to the memories of 9/11. If that memory doesn’t do anything to you as an American, then you’re not really that sensitive a human being. When you think of the sacrifices our firefighters make, think about the service of soldiers in foreign lands and listen to their lives, you have to be careful that whatever you do, don’t cast a shadow on what these great people do.

“They make sure you have the right so speak out without retaliation, or at least no retaliation other than other people criticizing you.”

Here is the video in full, including Brown's take on protesting police shootings and the qualifications of well-known pro athletes such as Kaepernick and NBA superstars LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony to effectively lead efforts to foster productive discussions.

“The bottom line is it’s easy to talk,” Brown said. “It’s easy to have the media to pick up on something, and it’s hard to have the patience to put something in place that you can build upon that evntually will lead to each citizen having their equal rights.”

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