Former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown praised athletes in the NBA and NFL for "bringing attention" to the controversial cases in St. Louis and New York, calling their actions encouraging signs in times of social tension, the Associated Press reported on Friday.
"The thing that I feel most about is the emerging of young players that are intelligently protesting what they feel are injustices, their willingness to step up and recognize that there has to be some changes in the methodology of engagement with citizens and police," Brown said.
Before Monday night's game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Brooklyn Nets, James and Kyrie Irving of the Cavaliers and Jarrett Jack, Alan Anderson, Deron Williams and Kevin Garnett of the Nets wore shirts emblazoned with "I can't breath," words said by Eric Garner in his fatal encounter with New York police officer in July. On Tuesday night, Bryant and all but one of his Lakers teammates wore the shirt before a win over the Sacramento Kings.
During pregame introductions on Nov. 30, five members of the St. Louis Rams raised their hands in a sign of solidarity with protestors and the family of Michael Brown, a teenager killed by police near St. Louis.
"One of the things that I've always not liked is the modern players have always concentrated on dancing in the end zone and BS-ing when serious things were going on in this country that needed to be changed," Brown said.
"So my opinion is that when these young people stand up and risk their careers, that's a good sign for everything and all of us. They have the power of bringing attention to the issues."
Brown retired from the NFL after a nine-year career in which he rushed for more than 12,000 yards and won three MVP awards.
NBA commissioner Adam Silver has said that would prefer if players followed league regulations regarding on-court attire, which stipulate that players wear gear from Adidas, the NBA's official sponsor. However, a league source told ESPN's Jeremy Scaap that players who wore the shirts during warm ups would not be fined.