Jim Brown on Syracuse unretiring No. 44: 'I didn't exactly endorse it'

ByAndrea Adelson ESPN logo
Thursday, June 4, 2015

Hall of Famer Jim Brown said he did not endorse the decision to unretire the No. 44 jersey he wore at Syracuse, adding more controversy to an already muddled situation.

During an appearance on the "Rich Eisen Show" on Fox Sports Radio, Brown said, "I didn't exactly endorse it. I just didn't complain."

When asked for an explanation, Brown said, "I didn't talk to anyone before they decided to do it, so they couldn't have my blessings."

During a ceremony last month announcing the decision to unretire the number, interim athletic director Pete Sala said the school had the blessing of Brown and Floyd Little, who also wore the number. Former Syracuse great Ernie Davis wore No. 44 as well, making it one of the most storied numbers in all of college football.

After Syracuse made its announcement, former quarterback Donovan McNabb voiced his displeasure. The next day, the school backtracked and said the status of the number had not changed, even though it made a very public announcement at a news conference and on social media, declaring No. 44 back. The No. 44 had been officially retired in 2005.

"To unretire something, there has to be a commercial aspect to it," Brown said Thursday. "So if it's going to help the team professionally 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 didn'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."

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