Jim Brown, a renowned rushing back for the Cleveland Browns who was also a civil rights pioneer and one of the NFL's most productive players, passed away on Friday at the age of 87, according to his family and the organization.
Brown “passed peacefully” on Thursday night at their Los Angeles home, his wife, Monique, had said on Instagram.
The message, which omitted specific details on the cause of death, said that “to the world he was an activist, actor, and football star.” He was a devoted and excellent husband, father, and grandpa to our family. Our hearts are torn apart.
In a statement, Cleveland Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslem referred to Brown as “a true icon of not just the Cleveland Browns but of the entire NFL.”
The Haslems remarked, “He was unquestionably the finest player to ever don a Browns jersey and possibly one of the greatest players in NFL history.
Brown, who was selected in the first round of the 1957 draft and played for the Browns from 1957 to 1965, was rated the best football player ever by the Sporting News in 2002.
In eight of those seasons, he was the NFL's leading rusher. He concluded his career with 12,312 running yards and 5.2 carries per game.
He led Cleveland to the NFL championship game three times, winning the championship in 1964, and was selected to the Pro Bowl each season he played.
In 58 of his 118 regular-season games, the three-time MVP rushed for at least 100 yards while never missing a game.
In seven seasons, he gained more than 1,000 yards on the ground. This comprised 1,863 yards in a season with 14 games and 1,527 yards in a season with 12 games.
James Nathaniel Brown, who was born in 1936 on St. Simons Island in Georgia, excelled in football, basketball, baseball, lacrosse, and other sports in high school.
At Syracuse University, he continued to shine as a multi-sport athlete, and his football career took off when he finished with 986 running yards and 13 touchdowns in his senior season.
Brown was taken by the Browns with the sixth overall choice in the 1957 NFL Draft, and he immediately had an influence on the offense under coach Paul Brown.
With 942 running yards and nine touchdowns in his debut season, he led the league. His 237-yard effort in his ninth game was the highest ever in a single game in league history for 14 years.
He was chosen MVP that year, and he is still the only rookie to win it.
Brown said in “A Football Life” on the NFL Network that “(Coach Paul Brown) loved me.You are my running back, he told me. My running back, you are. The kindest comments I've ever heard throughout my career as a professional football player were those.
When Brown abruptly retired at the age of 30, the sports world was shocked since he was still in his prime.
While shooting “The Dirty Dozen” in London, he announced his retirement despite having led the league in running and touchdowns in his last season.
– A helping hand in the conflict
I could have played longer, Brown said to pro football writer Tex Maule for Sports Illustrated a day after he announced his retirement. This year, I really wanted to play, but it was not feasible.
For one thing, the shooting is going behind schedule. The cerebral stimulation I would get from playing football is not enough for me. I have the chance to participate in the conflict going on in our nation right now because I want to. In one year, I might not.
Brown established the Negro Industrial and Economic Union, which would subsequently become the Black Economic Union, a year later.
The organization's objective was to assist black businesses, and it served as the hub of Brown's initiatives to make the nation more equitable for African Americans.
Brown took part in the Cleveland Summit on June 4, 1967, meeting with other well-known Black athletes at the Black Economic Union's Cleveland headquarters to speak with boxer Muhammad Ali and determine whether to endorse his opposition to enlisting in the US military during the Vietnam War.
As a result of the group's decision to support Ali, the American Civil Rights Movement's powerful emblem of Black unification was born.
“Throughout his nine-year NFL career, which spanned the civil rights movement in our country, he established himself as a pioneer and inspiration for sportsmen who participate in social activities outside of their profession. In a statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell noted that the player “motivated other players to make a difference, particularly in the communities in which they resided.
But there were controversies throughout Brown's life. Beginning with an assault allegation in 1968 that was dropped when the claimed victim refused to cooperate with authorities, he had several run-ins with the law.
In 1970, Brown was accused of engaging in road rage but was later found not guilty. In 1975, Brown was found guilty of misdemeanor violence for hitting a golf companion. He was accused of rape in 1985, but the case was eventually withdrawn.
Brown was detained in 1999 on suspicion of threatening his wife and using a shovel to damage her vehicle. He was found guilty of vandalism and sentenced to three months in prison after refusing to participate in a domestic violence therapy program, pay a fine, or make a donation to a refuge for abused women.