NFL HOFers applaud reaction to Sterling

CLEVELAND, Ohio —Hall of Famer Harry Carson wasn’t surprised by the comments from Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling that drew a lifetime ban from the NBA.

Carson, executive director of The Fritz Pollard Alliance, and several other Hall of Famers who gathered in Cleveland for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Fan Fest this weekend applauded NBA players for uniting in their condemnation of Sterling’s racist remarks.

“It doesn’t really surprise me,” said Carson, who has urged the NFL to penalize players for using the N-word. “People have very deep-seeded thoughts of other people. When a person is older, the way that they feel has been in their system forever.”

Former Patriots offensive guard John Hannah had an interesting suggestion for dealing with people who make the types of racist assertions that Sterling did on a tape that was made public nine days ago.

“There’s always jackasses in the world, you know?” Hannah said. “You just kind of giggle at them, laugh at them and know that they’re idiots. Let it go.”

Barry Sanders, the Hall of Fame Detroit Lions running back, was “shocked and amazed” when he first learned of Sterling’s audio comments. Floyd Little, another Hall of Fame back who played for the Broncos, applauded Silver’s swift and firm punishment.

“Got what he deserved,” Little said. “I’m not pulling any punches, but it’s a history. It’s not like it’s just one shot. If it’s one shot? Then no. But his history tells what he’s done over the years. It finally caught up with him. So when you get caught, you get caught.”

If there was any good to come from this incident, it was that athletes and every-day people alike rallied around an issue and took an impactful stand against hateful rhetoric, Hall of Famers Bobby Mitchell and Mike Haynes said.

“I was proud to see athletes speaking as a group about something,” Mitchell said.

“For real change to occur in our country, people have to deal with these things, put them on the table,” Haynes added. “I’m not saying that [Sterling] is the first and only guy to do it. It’s been going on. But there’s never been anything that’s happened to bring that attention to a situation that was high enough to get such [media] interest.”