Jim Brown, the Cleveland Browns running back who has frequently been named as the greatest player in the history of professional football, has died at the age of 87.
Brown played nine NFL seasons and led the league in rushing in eight of them, he was a Pro Bowler every year, and he was named league MVP three times. In 1964 Brown led the Browns to the NFL championship, the last time the Browns won a league title. Brown retired with 12,312 rushing yards and 106 touchdowns, both NFL records, and he averaged an astonishing 5.2 yards per carry.
Brown was an extraordinary all-around athlete who was a high school star in football, basketball, baseball, track and lacrosse. At Syracuse he played football, basketball, track and lacrosse — and some observers of his college athletic prowess said he was even better at lacrosse than he was at football.
After his Syracuse career, Brown went to the Browns with the sixth overall pick in the 1957 NFL draft and he instantly made an enormous impact, winning the league’s Most Valuable Player award as a rookie. He also won league MVP in his first season, and in his last season. He never had a down year, being named first-team All-Pro in eight of his nine seasons and second-team All-Pro the other year.
The football world was shocked when Brown announced his retirement after the 1965 season, saying that he could make more money acting in movies than he could in the NFL. Brown was one of the stars of The Dirty Dozen in 1967 and would star in 100 Rifles in 1969. After a decade in Hollywood he drifted away from acting and had pursuits as varied as starting the Amer-I-Can program to deter young men from getting involved in street gangs, and serving as the color commentator on the first UFC broadcast.
Brown will be remembered among the greatest athletes of American history.