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Brown's ego gets in way

Hall of Fame running back should attend Ring of Honor

September 19, 2010
By ED PUSKAS Tribune Chronicle Sports Editor

AS of this writing, there is still time for Jim Brown to decide he should be in Cleveland today for the Browns' Ring of Honor ceremony.

But don't expect that to happen. It would be a tacit admission that Brown was wrong in initially refusing to attend. And, of course, the next time Brown is wrong about anything will be the first.

If nothing else, Brown is a man of his word. When he walked away from the Browns at the pinnacle of his career after nine seasons and 12,312 yards, he never seemed to waver. If Brown ever thought about coming back, he never told anyone. That might have been admitting weakness.

Brett Favre can't seem to walk away, even now that most people wish he would. He needs whatever adulation and attention remains. Jim Brown quit long before we were ready to say goodbye. He didn't need the hero worship that came with playing football.

Brown is bent on proving it again. He is refusing to participate in the Browns' Ring of Honor because he is angry at team president Mike Holmgren, who sought to reduce Brown's role as an advisor within the organization. Brown went as far as accusing Holmgren of making racially charged comments.

You should know that Holmgren said nothing of the sort. In fact, Holmgren and Browns owner Randy Lerner - the man who hired Brown as an advisor - both reached out to the Hall of Fame running back even after he publicly ripped the organization.

They didn't make the effort because Holmgren was wrong. They did it because it just looks bad for the Browns to honor its first group of Ring of Honor inductees without Brown, the greatest of all of them. And Brown isn't just the greatest Cleveland Browns player of all time. No better player ever stepped onto a field.

That will always be Brown's legacy, although he seems to feel showing up today in Cleveland would somehow diminish it. As Brown said last week, he won't let Holmgren define his legacy. Unfortunately, Brown seems bent on defining that legacy himself in a stubborn, clumsy fashion.

The Browns have made the effort. It's time to focus on the players who will be there.

Warren's own Paul Warfield spoke last month of his gratitude for his induction. Warfield, Joe DeLamielleure, Leroy Kelly, Bobby Mitchell and Ozzie Newsome have said they will attend. Mike McCormack is recovering from surgery and is unable to come.

These players and those being inducted posthumously - Paul Brown, Len Ford, Frank Gatski, Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Gene Hickerson, Dante Lavelli, Marion Motley and Bill Willis - should not be overshadowed from afar by Brown, whose perspective seems forever skewed by his larger-than-life ego.



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