Jim Brown, legendary NFL running back and civil rights pioneer, dies at 87
Jim Brown, a supernatural talent on the football field and later film star and civil rights activist, has died, according to the Cleveland Browns, his former team. He was 87 years old.
“It is impossible to describe the deep love and gratitude we feel for having the opportunity to be a small piece of Jim’s incredible life and legacy,” the Cleveland Browns said in a statement. “We mourn his passing, but celebrate the indelible light he brought to the world.”
His wife, Monique Brown, announced his passing on Instagram.
“It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my husband, Jim Brown,” she wrote. “He passed away peacefully last night at our LA home. To the world he was an activist, actor and football star. To our family he was a loving and wonderful husband, father and grandfather. . Our hearts are broken.”
Brown was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and is in conversation as the greatest football player of all time. He was selected to the NFL’s 50th, 75th, and 100th Anniversary teams and selected as the greatest college football player of all time at the 2020 College Football National Championship.
He was born in St. Simons, Georgia, but developed a legendary athletic career after moving to Manhasset, New York on Long Island as a boy. He excelled in every sport he played, but especially football and lacrosse. He played both at Syracuse University — and would become Hall of Famers for both.
He was No. 6 overall in the 1957 NFL Draft by the Cleveland Browns – he was one of four Hall of Famers selected to the top 8 picks – and won the rookie league title. ‘year.
He only played nine seasons in the NFL, all with the Browns, before a contract dispute led him to step away from the game for a lucrative movie career. But in those nine seasons, he led the league eight times and won the Pro Bowl every season.
Brown won his only NFL championship in 1964, his penultimate year in the league.
While filming “The Dirty Dozen” in 1966, he walked away from football for good when Browns owner Art Modell demanded he return to training camp. “The Dirty Dozen” was a major box office success, grossing over $45 million in 1967 (over $500 million in 2020 adjusted for inflation).
Brown would go on to star in 19 more films, often as the protagonist, in the 1960s and 1970s. This included hits like “The Split”, “Riot”, “Ice Station Zebra” and “100 Rifles”, where a scene interracial romance with Raquel Welch was among the premieres of a major movie.
As a prominent black athlete and star in the 60s and 70s, he never shied away from speaking out against racial injustice.
As he became an influential activist, Brown’s life was regularly marred by violence, particularly against women. In 1965 he was charged with assaulting an 18-year-old woman, but was later acquitted. Three years later, he was charged with assault after his girlfriend, model Eva Bohn-Chin, was found lying on the ground under a balcony on the second floor of his home. Bohn-Chin refused to cooperate in the case and the charges were later dropped.