As many of you may have heard, Syracuse University recently decided to put uniform No. 44 back in play after retiring it back in 2005. Given how this number was worn by university legends Jim Brown and Ernie Davis, this was kind of a big deal.
But then former Syracuse star Donovan McNabb bashed the decision, and now Brown has weighed in. Speaking on the “Rich Eisen Show” on Fox Sports Radio, as was reported by Brent Axe of Syracuse’s primary newspaper the Post-Standard, Brown said that he too wasn’t a fan of the number being un-retired.
“I didn’t exactly give my blessings,” Brown said. “I just didn’t complain.”
“When I did get a call from an executive up there, I didn’t make a fuss about it and I told them whatever they wanted to do was OK with me.”
“To un-retire something, there has to be a commercial aspect to it,” Brown said. “So if it’s going to help the team commerciall or help a scholarship fund or something like that, then that’s good. But for me, to endorse something that takes away something from you, that doesn’t make sense. Unless I did something to deserve it. It seems like a punishment to me. I don’t take it that way, but it couldn’t be a positive thing unless someone explained it so all of us could see the positive aspect of it.”
It’s hard to argue with Brown’s reasoning, as he is probably THE best player in Syracuse athletics history.
In three years on the football team, playing running back, he accumulated 2,091 rushing yards and 19 touchdowns on 361 carries, and also participated in basketball, track and lacrosse.
Brown then went on to play nine NFL seasons with the Cleveland Browns before being inducted into both the Pro and College Football Halls of Fame.
That said, even though Syracuse administrators have since said that the number would only be awarded in “special circumstances,” it’s puzzling as to why they would not at least consult a man who wore that number with pride and in whose honor (at least partly) it was retired. The 79-year-old Brown is obviously very proud of his time with the program, and for them to not even consider his feelings is a slap in the face.
Hopefully, if Syracuse football, basketball or any other sport soon finds a player who they feel is worthy of number 44, Brown will be asked for his blessing immediately.
*Featured Photo (above) credit to Nicholas Lisi / The Post-Standard