NEW YORK – A new consumer product line headed by NFL legend Jim Brown and featuring "Thug Chips" has left a bad taste in the mouth of at least one politician.
City Councilman Leroy Comrie claimed on Friday that the manufacturer's name, OG Nation, stands for "original gangster." He accused the Arizona-based company of exploiting urban youth by glorifying violence.
"They're trying to mainstream the gangster lifestyle and the criminal lifestyle," Comrie said.
The company's Web Site lists Brown as president while promoting products like "King Pin" lager beer, "Party Dogg" mixed drinks and "Atomic Dogg" soft drinks. It says a "Thug Chips" snack line of potato chips, pretzels, pork rinds and dips is being developed.
The site hypes the OG Nation beer by saying, "Lagers have been around for over 2,000 years, dating back to the days of the original gangster Egyptians."
Comrie urged Brown and another backer, former New York Knick Larry Johnson, "to consider changing the names of this brand line to something that is more reflective of the positive attitudes of our community."
The councilman added: "Do Jim Brown and Larry Johnson really need to sell pork rinds and malt liquor to our young people?"
In a scathing written response citing Brown's record of anti-gang activism, the company said the accusations represented "the most insidious kind of racism, because it masquerades as piety, when it's really just political grandstanding."
The statement continued: "To suggest that there is a connection between a soft drink can and gang violence is simply willful and deliberate ignorance of the deeper socio-economic divisions that are the root of the problem."
In an audio interview posted on the company Web Site, Brown said he hoped the venture would redefine America's corporate culture.
"It's a business first, but on the other hand it deals with inclusion and diversity," the Hall of Fame tailback said.