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Jim Brown on No. 44 Clusterf***: 'I Didn't Exactly Endorse It'

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The original No. 44 admits that he's not a big fan of seeing the number back on the field.

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First of all, are you surprised to learn Jim Brown isn't a big fan of bringing No. 44 back for Syracuse Orange football?

I'm certainly not. He was noticeably absent during the dedication ceremony where it was announced that 44 is "back." No one seemed to want to mention his feelings on the matter other than to imply that he endorsed it. And while the previously-announced Committee To Bestow 44 included both Jim Brown and Floyd Little, it was made clear that Brown was no longer a given. Every indication was there that Brown wasn't a fan.

So that's not surprising. But of course, the way that SU Athletics handled everything is making what should have been a very straightforward thing into a confusing clusterf***. Why does that sound familiar...

"I didn't exactly endorse it," Brown said. "I just didn't complain."

When asked by Eisen what he meant by that, Brown responded: "I didn't talk to anyone before they decided to do it, so they couldn't have my blessings."

"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 be fair, that's what a teenager says when they want to feel victim-y during a family vacation they didn't want to go on. Grow up, baby. But, considering he's one of the two living people responsible for making the number what it is, it's probably a good idea to at least get on the same page with the guy.

Brown takes issue with the fact that the retirement of the number now reverts to being a "jersey retirement" instead.

"To un-retire something, there has to be a commercial aspect to it. 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."

What's really fascinating is how Brown and Floyd Little could be on such opposite sides of the spectrum when it comes to how they view the number. Brown's experiences at Syracuse and in football have such an edge to them, it's not surprising to see how he could feel jilted. He dominated in an era when a person like him wasn't appreciated. He saw the number retirement as just that, an appreciation. So to take it down...well, it fits with a lot of the treatment he got when he was here. So I get it.

I've made my case as to why No. 44 is different than most jersey numbers and I stand by it. Floyd Little clearly feels the same. I don't think anyone can speak for Ernie Davis but given everything we know about how humble and lacking in attention he was, I would assume he'd be fine with the number being active as well. But Brown and fellow SU legend Donovan McNabb are on the other side of the aisle. That matters, too.

Attention to detail. Again, that's how we ended up here. The same issues that put Nike swooshes on statues and misspelled names on retirement jerseys are the same issues that led us to this. A culture that lacks the ability to double-check, follow-through and dot all your i's. All this nonsense could have been avoided, or at least dealt with in a more respectable manner.

But...that's not how we do things around here.