Jim Brown, the NFL Hall of Fame running back that retired at the peak of his career to become an actor has died at the age of 87.
Brown reportedly passed away peacefully in his sleep at home in Los Angeles with his wife Monique close by. His wife wrote this on Instagram, via the Seattle Times: “To the world, he was an activist, actor, and football star,” Monique Brown wrote in an Instagram post. “To our family, he was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken.”
Jim Brown was the greatest running back of his generation and top 5 all-time. He, at one point, held the NFL record for rushing yards, despite cutting his stellar career short. He was the league’s Most Valuable Player in 1965, which was also the last year of a career that started in 1957.
Brown was an unstoppable force on the field. With a rare combination of vision, balance, and top-end speed, as well as his ability to play through whatever injury he might have been suffering from at the time, Brown led the Browns to their last championship of any kind in 1964. Brown’s popularity coincided with the NFL becoming a staple on television, and he helped elevate the league to new heights with his compelling running style.
Legendary RB Jim Brown has passed away, his wife Monique Brown announced. pic.twitter.com/hOZD3W3hjW
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) May 19, 2023
Post-retirement, he went to Hollywood and appeared in more than 30 films, including “Any Given Sunday” and “The Dirty Dozen.”
Current Browns owner Jimmy Haslam said this:
“Jim Brown is a true icon of not just the Cleveland Browns but the entire NFL. He was certainly the greatest to ever put on a Browns uniform and arguably one of the greatest players in NFL history. Jim was one of the reasons the Browns have such a tremendous fan base today.
“So many people grew up watching him just dominate every time he stepped onto the football field but his countless accolades on the field only tell a small part of his story. His commitment to making a positive impact for all of humanity off the field is what he should also be known for.”
Brown, the inventor of the modern-day stiff arm, was known to rag-doll the smaller defenders of his era to the ground. He was such a ferocious hitter that many players would simply dive at his legs or refuse to hit him head-on. He was known to give as much punishment in the pile as he got, once allegedly almost biting off an opponent’s finger after the defender tried to gouge Brown’s eye.
“My arms were like my protectors and weapons,” Brown said during an interview with NFL Films.
Indeed, Brown was unlike any back before him, and some feel there has never been anyone better than Cleveland’s incomparable No. 32. At 6-foot-2, 230 pounds, he was dominant and relentless, his highlights featuring runs around and right through opponents, fighting for every yard, dragging multiple defenders along or finding holes where none seemed to exist.
Jim Brown, despite his occasional run-ins with the law, and his disagreement with Brown’s ownership, remained a beloved figure in Cleveland and the NFL. His legacy as the first, biggest star to put the league on the map will live on as long as players still put on helmets.
Featured image credit: By LBJ Foundation – Flickr, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=92661148
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