|Football great Jim Brown|
So Jim Brown thinks NASCAR is safer than the National Football League.
The former Cleveland Browns running back, now 77, was at last Sunday’s Pocono race as a guest of Richard Petty Motorsports (Brown is an associate of RPM co-owner Andrew Murstein). It was his second NASCAR race. After a quick tour, Brown told ESPN that when it comes to safety, “We (the NFL) are way behind.
"NASCAR stepped up their safety concepts, and I think the drivers feel NASCAR is doing everything that can be done.”
You could see the NASCAR officials, who have been taking some hits on safety recently, doing cartwheels down the length of Pocono’s pit road.
Now I realize Brown’s comments were meant more as a criticism of the NFL than an endorsement of NASCAR. He’s especially concerned about football’s concussion situation and was impressed by the advancements NASCAR has made in head and neck safety, especially the HANS device.
Still, it makes you wonder.
I wonder if Brown knew that NASCAR is the one professional sport in America that doesn’t require concussion baseline testing. Although it appears to be getting closer. NASCAR met with drivers back in May between Charlotte race weekends for a discussion of baseline testing. Indications are the testing will be required beginning next year.
That would finally bring NASCAR in line with guidelines from the American Academy of Neurology, reinforcing what has become common practice for athletes in recent years, the need to establish a baseline for comparison in diagnosing a possible concussion.
Still, that seems like a long time to wait for a sport that travels at 200 mph.
I wonder if Brown was aware of Jeff Gordon’s recent comments on safety when he said, “I think the drivers feel NASCAR is doing everything that can be done.” After a bad crash at Charlotte left him with a sore neck, Gordon said, “I had no idea there was no SAFER Barrier at that dogleg on the front straightaway. That blew my mind that there wasn’t one.
“That kind of shocked me.”
Gordon has been critical of NASCAR for failing to require safer barriers everywhere on the track. He had a similar incident at Las Vegas a few years back and earlier this this season Danny Hamlin broke his back at California when he hit a wall not covered by a safer barrier.
Why aren’t barriers everywhere?
“There’s only one reason,” Gordon says. “Cost.”
I wonder if Brown was aware of Charlotte's Cameragate and the fact we’re still waiting for an explanation on what happened and why. NASCAR turned it over to Fox. Fox turned it over to COMCAT, the company operating the camera. COMCAT said it expected to have an explanation shortly. That was nearly two weeks ago. Notice we haven’t heard a word about it and apparently nobody’s asking.
Jim Brown may be the greatest running back in NFL history. Heck, he’s probably the greatest player in NFL history. I loved watching him drag himself slowly to his feet and limp back to the huddle as if he was hurting, only to run over three defenders on the very next play. Some say he is the greatest professional athlete ever—and I wouldn’t argue with that.
And I even loved him in The Dirty Dozen.
But an expert on NASCAR safety he’s not. He should stick to football.