This is an excerpt from a Q&A Jim Brown did with ESPN.com in 2006.
Brown was among the first high-profile black athletes to participate in civil rights activism. Brown played in the NFL with Cleveland from 1957-65 and was the NFL’s all-time leading rusher until 1984. He is still the league’s all-time leader in rushing yards per game (104.3) and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Brown was NFL MVP three times in nine seasons and is widely considered to be the greatest football player ever.
ESPN: You once told the Syracuse Herald-Journal that the modern black athletes are the "most embarrassing collection of individuals I've ever known." What drove you to make that statement?
Brown: What drove me to make that statement? (laughs) My observation. When you see the Willie Lynch syndrome being acted out. The buffoonery. The things we fought to get away from: The stereotypical gestures. The rolling of the eyes, the dancing, and all the Walt Disney stereotypical racial disgraces. You wonder how these individuals can be so stupid not to understand how the general public is looking at them. Yeah, I said that many times and I've said that to them. I don't think that it's cute. I don't think the majority of the fans in stands think it's cute. I think it's like chasing the shadow of the rabbit instead of the rabbit. Entertainment was always used in slave quarters. In fact, they used to take fighters, blindfold them, put everybody in the ring, and let you fight until the last guy was standing. They'd be sitting around the ring in tuxedos, with their women and jewelry. That was entertainment, boss. If you study history, you don't want to emulate the things that were degrading and humiliating. The humiliation was unreal. Now, guys are voluntarily playing the “yassa, boss” slave. Yeah, that's embarrassing to me. To think in this day and age, these young men would be out there shaking their butts and not knowing much of anything else. Not understanding the dignity of a man and how to play a game and play it hard and let that speak for yourself. There's no debating this conversation. Anybody that takes the other side has got to be an enemy. Any man that would teach his son that that's the thing to do should be arrested.
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