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NFL legend Brown, Petty form instant bond

June 12, 2013, Reid Spencer, NASCAR Wire Service, NASCAR.com

Jim Brown

Two legends of their respective sports met at Pocono Raceway

It took former Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown and seven-time NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Richard Petty all of five minutes to begin talking like old friends.

Brown helicoptered to Pocono Raceway last Sunday with Andy Murstein, co-owner of Richard Petty Motorsports. Murstein and Brown are part of the ownership group of the Long Island Lizards of the Major League Lacrosse.

Brown's second trip to a NASCAR race gave the NFL Hall of Famer a chance to spend time with the King, a meeting he relished. Together they talked to reporters behind the hauler of the No. 43 RPM Ford.

"I recognize a legend like this," Brown said, nodding at Petty, "and we have such a great way of communicating, the two of us -- and we only met five minutes ago. But it's wonderful to be out here and be a part of this culture and show my respect for the culture. It's a great culture.

"We have such a great way of (speaking), the two of us -- and we only met five minutes ago."

-- Jim Brown on Richard Petty

"I did Daytona about five or six years ago, and that was the first experience that I had. It was mind-blowing. If you've never really followed the culture in a certain way, you never realize how dominant it is and how many people enjoy it. The tailgating, I guess you guys invented that, and football tried to keep up."

Petty's longtime allegiance to the Washington Redskins didn't inhibit the burgeoning friendship between the two legends, but Petty acknowledged it did create some friction in his own household years ago.

"I was a Redskins fan, but my wife thought he (Brown) was the greatest thing since popcorn, and we had a lot of arguments over that deal," Petty said. "I was not a Browns fan. I was a Redskins fan. And I don't think she was a Browns fan -- she was his fan."

"Give her my best," Brown quipped.

Though Brown has followed NASCAR racing, the bruising running back said he has never had a desire to drive a car at race speeds. 

"Let me tell you, I love sports, but I don't think I'm going to try that," Brown said. "It seems like a little rough for me… Getting behind the wheel, that's not my thing." 

"I didn't want to go out and play football either, not with those guys," Petty interjected.

With the recent focus on concussions in the NFL, and legal action on the part of former players, Brown has gained an appreciation for the safety enhancements of NASCAR racing and hopes that the NFL can follow suit.

"In the National Football League, we're way behind, and I think NASCAR -- out of the fact that you can really get hurt -- stepped up their safety concepts, so I think most of the drivers would feel that they've done pretty much everything that can be done without taking away from the sport," Brown said. "We have a ways to go, because this is the first time that we've really ever taken the safety situation seriously, because of the lawsuits. 

"And when we come out of this, I think we will have a much safer game, and we won't take away from the impact of the game. So we're a little behind NASCAR, and if we pay attention to the fact that someone realized that something had to be done that would make it safer, the same thing has to happen in football. Two different sports, but if you're conscientious about it, and you want to make sure it's as safe as you can make it, then you can do that."

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