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Marla Ridenour on Sports

Brown's letter goes too far

By Marla Published: August 31, 2010

In recent years, legendary Browns running back Jim Brown has not hesitated to speak out on any number of subjects, calling former Ohio State athletic director Andy Geiger a ''slave master'' during the Maurice Clarett controversy and criticizing golfer Tiger Woods for being too ''politically correct,'' in the wake of a television commentator's comment on lynching.

His controversial statements did not preclude Browns owner Randy Lerner from hiring Brown as his executive advisor, a position Brown held from 2005-2009. When his duties were changed in a restructuring of the front office after president Mike Holmgren arrived and Brown saw himself as merely a ceremonial figure, Brown and the Browns parted ways.

But in his letter to Holmgren declining to attend the Browns' Ring of Honor ceremony on Sept. 19, Brown showed why Holmgren felt it was time to change the team's relationship with the Hall of Famer. Brown's letter to Holmgren was published on Cleveland.com and excerpts were shown on WKYC-TV Monday night.

Brown ended the letter by trying to put words in Holmgren's mouth in a virtually unintelligible racial diatribe.

''So let me end with a little humor, because as you say, one monkey don’t stop the show, and as I say “Willie Lynch missed a few of us,'' and there will be no Buck Dancing,'' Brown wrote, according to Cleveland.com.

Supposedly, Willie Lynch was a slave owner from the British West Indies who delivered a speech on the banks of the James River in Virginia in 1712 regarding control of slaves, although Lynch's infamous letter has been decried as a hoax.

According to the web site theatredance.com, buck dancing is ''an early tap dance routine done by minstrel and Vaudeville performers in the 19th century portraying a character-style taken from African-American males, known as "Bucks."

When the Ring of Honor was announced Thursday, Holmgren said nothing that resembled Brown's comment about ''one monkey don't stop the show.'' Holmgren said, ''It's going to be a great celebration for all of us and the 16 families on that day and I trust he will be part of that.''  Holmgren later added, ''The glass is half full. I think everyone is going to be there.''

In his letter to Holmgren, Brown said he parted ways with the organization because he declined to be a ''greeter'' for the Browns.

''Your ultimatum to me was that you would offer me the opportunity of being that of the greeter, that of a mascot, that of a person that would represent special events by his physical presence, and for those things, I would receive a salary of $100,000,'' Brown wrote, according to Cleveland.com. ''All of those things that you offered me would be controlled by you.

''After that 10-minute meeting, I went to my office with a feeling that I was just fired by the Cleveland Browns, because in my mind, there would be no way on this earth that you would expect me to go against everything that I’ve ever stood for in my whole life.

''Not wanting to get into a public debate, I left my office and went home. I never spoke to the media, or any of my friends at the Browns, because I truly didn’t know what to say to them. I thought that was the reponsibility of the Browns. I wrote you and Randy a note, and said I did not accept that proposed position, but if I could do anything meaningful for the organization, I would consider it. I took that position, because of my respect for the Lerner family, and everyone that I had worked with in the Cleveland Browns organization.''

Brown said he would not attend the Ring of Honor ceremony because he didn't need the validation.

"I don’t have any trophies in my home on display. I don’t claim to be the best at anything, and I emphatically do not need validation from any man, so I will not participate in your Ring of Honor,'' he wrote, according to Cleveland.com.

Brown's penchant in recent years has been to inject himself into issues that did not involve him. One of his most recent comments came after the Cavaliers' elimination from the playoffs when he said LeBron James had been ''treated unfairly'' and that he expected James to leave the Cavs because of the ''humilating things'' being said about him.

But Brown went too far with his ''one monkey don't stop the show'' line, validating Holmgren's decision that ultimately caused Brown's split with the team.

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