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Jim Brown doesn’t see many great runners in today’s NFL

Jim Brown

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown speaks during a news conference naming him as a special adviser to the Cleveland Browns NFL football team Wednesday, May 29, 2013, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/David Richard)


As Jim Brown surveys the landscape of running backs in the modern NFL, he’s not particularly impressed.

Brown told the Northeast Ohio Media Group that the reason not many running backs are getting the ball 20 times a game -- as he did during his Hall of Fame career with the Browns -- is that there just aren’t very many great running backs in the NFL right now.

“Who are the running backs who aren’t getting the ball today who should be?” Brown said. “Adrian Peterson isn’t running by committee. Nobody is going to tell me Marshawn Lynch can’t run. He’s strong as an ox. I don’t have the answers, but it doesn’t bother me. I don’t measure things by the average, which I know writers would have to look at things the way they have to, but I don’t have to. I’m looking at the exceptions to the rule, not the rule. . . . As we sit here, I can’t name seven great runners. Can you?”

For the handful of runners who truly are great, however, Brown thinks it’s a shame when their teams don’t recognize their greatness and get them the ball as often as possible.

“I could never understand why they did that to Barry Sanders in Detroit,” Brown said. “I know that’s one of the reasons why he retired, because they took him out on third down and let someone else catch the ball. I thought they must be out of their mind because Barry is such a threat.”

How would Brown fare in today’s NFL?

“I believe if I were playing the game today, I would still get the ball as much as I did all those years ago,” Brown said.

The game has changed and running backs have been devalued since Brown retired half a century ago. But Jim Brown would be a great player in any era.