HBO's "Real Sports With Bryant Gumbel" returns Tuesday at 9 p.m. and features a segment with NFL legend Jim Brown and NBA legend Bill Russell.
Brown, especially, is concerned that the two biggest black sports figures of the moment, Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan, aren't socially active enough.
In a segment called "Legends," Real Sports host Bryant Gumbel sits down with two icons of the 1960s. Brown and Russell were hall of fame athletes who were outspoken figures in a turbulent period of racism, social activism and profound change.
Brown was asked if he was surprised or disappointed by a similar lack of activism in today's top athletes.
“There are one or two individuals in this country that are black that have been put in front of us as an example," Brown said. "But they're basically under a system that says, ‘Hey, they're not gonna do a certain thing.’ Yes, that disappoints me because I know they both know better.”
Bryant Gumbel: “Tiger and Michael?”
Jim Brown: “ Yeah, I know they both know better, okay. And I know they both can do better without hurting themselves.”
Jim Brown on Tiger Woods: “You know what’s so interesting about Tiger to me? If it was just a matter of me looking at an individual that's a monster competitor, this cat is a mamajama, he is a killer. He'll run over you, he'll kick your ass, but as an individual for social change, or any of that kind of (stuff). Terrible. Terrible. Because he can get away with teaching kids to play golf, and that's his contribution. And in the real world, man, I can't teach no kids to play golf and that's my contribution, if I got that kind of power.”
Bill Russell: “We’re losing a whole generation of kids. And, I for one, would not give up on them. And Jim will not give up on them because we know that when we were kids, there were certain influences that made our lives livable.”
Bryant Gumbel: “Why did you choose to get so intimately involved with helping young black men who were engaged in gang warfare?”
Jim Brown: “Because simply, it’s the most devastating culture to come along that affect black people in a long time. How can we act like we don’t see young black men killing each other? Rome is burning and so there can be no education, there can be no economic development, there can be no family structure. There can be nothing as long as we allow this particular culture to exist.”