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Sunday, June 9, 2013
Updated: June 10, 10:25 AM ET
Brown: NFL 'way behind' NASCAR

By Terry Blount
ESPN.com

LONG POND, Pa. -- Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, attending the Sprint Cup race at Pocono on Sunday, said the NFL has a ways to go to catch up with NASCAR in terms of safety improvements for the sport.

BrownSomeone 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.

-- Jim Brown

"We are way behind," Brown said. "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 made major changes in the sport after Dale Earnhardt was killed in the 2001 Daytona 500, including collapsible walls (the SAFER barrier), head and neck restraints inside the car and a redesigned race car that has crush panels and a larger driver compartment.

Brown feels the NFL is just beginning to make the type of changes that can revolutionize the sport's safety.

"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."

However, Brown isn't in favor of the recent rule change that will penalize players for lowering the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box. The rule change is aimed mostly at running backs.

"It's an example of how [the NFL] is making an honest effort to make the game safer,'' he said. "But I don't quite like that one. I understand they have to make changes, but some of the rules are made by people who didn't play the game."

Brown said because he doesn't suffer from any lingering symptoms of concussions he may have sustained over his career, he isn't among the group of players to have filed lawsuits that accuse the NFL hiding known concussion risks.

"I know that there are players that have had problems and those things should be taken care of," Brown said. "But on a personal level I would be dishonest to say I was suffering from anything." 

Brown, 77, returned to his NFL roots last month when he was hired by the Cleveland Browns to become a special adviser to the organization.

"I'm back to my family," Brown said. "I'm looking forward to it. I would be a Brown the rest of my life anyway, but I'm officially back and I'm going to do everything I can do to help them.

"They have a little running back there [Trent Richardson] I might be able to help. And some of those players are staying out a little too late at night. I have a little advice for them, as well."

Brown was attending the NASCAR race as a guest of Richard Petty and Andrew Murstein, the co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports. Brown is part of Murstein's ownership group of the New York Lizards lacrosse team.

Brown's only previous NASCAR trip was to Daytona International Speedway a few years ago. Murstein also co-owns the lacrosse team and invited Brown to Pocono. Brown also attended the pre-race drivers' meeting.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.