NFL legend Jim Brown died Friday at the age of 87. The only team for which he played remembers him as the greatest player in team history, and perhaps the greatest player in league history.
“Jim Brown is a true icon of not just the Cleveland Browns but the entire NFL,” Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in a statement. “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. In the time we’ve spent with Jim, especially when we first became a part of the Browns, we learned so much from him about the unifying force sports can be and how to use sport as a vehicle for change while making a positive impact in the community. Jim broke down barriers just as he broke tackles. He fought for civil rights, brought athletes from all different sports together to use their platform for good. Many thought Jim retired from football too soon, but he always did it his way. From the football field, to Hollywood, to his work in athlete activism, Jim always played the leading role. His devotion to fighting racial injustice, improving education for youth and positively impacting the many lives he has through his Amer-I-Can Program has left a lasting legacy well beyond all he accomplished on the field.
“Jim Brown is the Cleveland Browns and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Monique, his children and entire family as well as all those who mourn this immense loss.”
Brown is just the latest towering figure in NFL history to pass away. In recent months, Hall of Famers Franco Harris and Bud Grant have died.
Still, Brown in many respects stands alone. He truly played the game like a man among boys, and he walked away with other purposes in mind while he still had many years left, if he had chosen to keep playing.