Jim Brown was widely considered to be one of the best running backs and greatest football players of all time.
Jim Brown’s legacy
After an outstanding college football and lacrosse career at Syracuse University, Brown was drafted by the Cleveland Browns, where he played his entire NFL career from 1957 until 1965, leading them to an NFL Championship win in 1964. He made the Pro Bowl in each of his nine seasons and was a three-time NFL MVP, retiring early at the age of 29. Brown rushed for over 12,000 yards and is the only NFL running back ever to average more than 100 yards per game for his career. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame just a few years after his retirement in 1971. Brown was called the greatest football player of all time by the Sporting News and the New York Daily News; ESPN named him the greatest college football player in history.
After his playing career, Brown became a leading man in Hollywood, debuting in “Rio Conchos” and going on to star in movies including “The Dirty Dozen,” “The Split,” and “Riot.” He was part of an early interracial onscreen romance with Raquel Welch (1940–2023) in 1969’s “100 Rifles.” Brown starred in a number of blaxploitation films, including “Slaughter,” “Black Gunn,” and “Three the Hard Way,” and he later parodied these films in “I’m Gonna Get You Sucka.” He also appeared on many TV shows, such as “I Spy,” “Knight Rider,” “T.J. Hooker,” and “The A Team.”
Brown was also known for his civil rights activism. He founded the Black Economic Union, creating jobs and providing loans to Black-owned businesses, as well as founding the Amer-I-Can Foundation, providing life skills training to gang members and prisoners.
Domestic violence charges
Brown was accused of domestic violence multiple times by a number of women. He spent three months in jail in 2002 after multiple offenses against his second wife. Brown was also convicted of misdemeanor battery against a golfing partner, serving a single day in jail before being placed on probation.
“Make sure when anyone tackles you he remembers how much it hurts.” —as quoted by fellow NFL star John Mackey
Tributes to Jim Brown
Full obituary: Plain Dealer