NFL Hall of Famer Jim Brown said the NFL has a long way to go to catch up with NASCAR in terms of safety improvement for the sport.

NASCAR has made major changes in the sport following the death of Dale Earnhardt in 2001. These include collapsible walls, head and neck restraints inside the car and a redesigned race car that has crush panels and a larger driver compartment.

The former running back, who attended the Sprint Cup race at Pocono on Sunday, believes that NASCAR have done everything they can to make the sport safer.

"We are way behind," Brown told ESPN. "NASCAR stepped up their safety concepts, and I think the drivers feel NASCAR is doing everything that can be done.

"So we are a little behind NASCAR in that respect. Someone in NASCAR realised there were certain things that could be done to make it safer. The same thing has to happen in football. It's two different sports, but you want to make sure it's as safe as you can make it."

Many former NFL players have filed lawsuits that accuse the league hiding known concussion risks, resulting in many of them having lingering symptoms from their playing days.

However, Brown is happy that the NFL are starting to make the changes necessary to alter the sport's safety.

"This is the first time [the NFL] has really taken the safety situation seriously," Brown said.

"Part of that was forced on them because of the concussion lawsuits, but I think when we come out of this we'll have a much safer game without taking away from the impact of the game."

But Brown isn't in favour of one recent rule change from the league's organisers. Players will now be penalised for lowering the crown of their helmet outside the tackle box - a rule that is aimed mostly at running backs.

"It's an example of how [the NFL] is making an honest effort to make the game safer,'' he said. "But I don't quite like that one. I understand they have to make changes, but some of the rules are made by people who didn't play the game."

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