Jim Brown (17th Feb 1939 – )
Jim Brown is best known for his 9 year stint playing Fullback for the Cleveland Browns, in which he set numerous records. In addition to being selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, he was also elected to the Lacrosse and College Hall of Fame. His list of accolades is staggering, including being a 9x Pro Bowl selection, 4 time NFL MVP, and having his number #32 jersey retired by the Browns. Even though he retired in 1965, he still holds NFL and Cleveland Brown records, including never missing a game for his whole career. As Richard Pryor once said, ‘Now they got m***********s that get hurt in practice’. Richard Pryor often spoke about Jim Brown being one of the people who was there for him during his darkest days being addicted to drugs.
Brown appears in many movies including 100 Rifles alongside Burt Reynolds, which was one of the first films to feature an interracial love scene. He also appears in Mars Attacks!, Any Given Sunday, and The Dirty Dozen. He was also the subject of a movie by Spike Lee entitled Jim Brown: All-American.
Brown was on the of the first and most successful Black NFL stars but didn’t shy away from the issues of race in the 1960’s. He helped to develop the BEU (Black Economic Union) and organised a summit, held in 1964 of some of the top Black Athletes, promoters. He, along with Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, stood behind Muhammad Alis refusal to fight in Vietnam. Brown formed a strong bond between himself, Ali, Sam Cooke and Malcolm X during the 1960’s, before Malcolm and Cooke were assassinated and killed in suspicious circumstances respectively.
First row – Bill Russell, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Kareem Abdul Jabbar
When watching Jim Browns game tape, you see a Black athlete, running through defensive lines with strength and purpose – a fitting metaphor for his strength and purpose during the African-American Civil Rights movement.