Cleveland — Jim Brown was both extraordinary and extraordinarily complex.
A Man. multiple versions.
There can be no condemnation of his greatness on the field. For generations, Brown, who died peacefully at his home in Los Angeles on Thursday night, has long been the standard of excellence for running backs, a strange mix of brute strength and blazing speed that has in many ways inspired the NFL forever. Changed for.
Cleveland’s No. 32 is in a class of its own.
“He’s (No.) 1,” said Hall of Famer Emmitt Smith, leading the league in career rushing yards. ”(Walter) Peyton, two. I fall three.”
But there’s more to Brown than broken tackles and broken records, who moved away from playing at his physical peak to pursue a film career helping to break down barriers in Hollywood for black actors.
Social activist and civil rights champion who used her platform to promote change during one of the most turbulent decades in American history.
And there’s a much less flattering personal side to Brown, who was accused of domestic violence at a time when women’s cries for help were often completely ignored or silenced.
Although he was arrested more than half a dozen times, Brown was never convicted of a serious crime because many of his accusers refused to testify or were acquitted in court. However, those crimes tarnished his image and made it hard for even the most loyal Browns fans to support him.
As a player, he was almost flawless.
An All-American at Syracuse, where he also starred in lacrosse, the 6-foot-2, 230-pound Brown, born in Georgia and raised on Long Island, was nothing the NFL had ever seen when He burst onto the scene in 1957.
A flat tackle with a deadly stiff arm that made him miss his stuttering step or simply outrun him, he led the league in rushing as a rookie. He didn’t stop here.
Over the next eight seasons, Brown rushed for 12,312 yards, scored 126 touchdowns, and averaged 5.2 yards per carry. Despite playing in only 118 games – he never missed one – he still ranks among the career leaders in rushing average (third), rushing TDs (sixth) and rushing yards (11th).
But perhaps more significantly, Brown, who ran for a career-high 1,863 yards in 1963, became a sporting symbol of Black excellence.
NBA superstar Kareem Abdul-Jabbar said, “Jim Brown truly represented achievement for the black community and he was so good that it didn’t matter what color he was, he was considered the best in his field.” had to accept.” “And it meant a lot to black Americans in the ’60s when anything that was accomplished by a black person was called into question.
“There were no question marks about Jim Brown.”
They will come later.
After rushing for 1,544 yards, making 17 TDs and winning his third league MVP in 1965, Brown retired, informing Brown on the set of “The Dirty Dozen” in England. While his decision stunned the team and shocked the sports world, it was vintage Brown.
He always did things in his own way.
During an era when athletes, especially black athletes, were reluctant to speak their mind for fear of backlash or worse, Brown stepped forward.
While he was still playing, Brown founded the Negro Industrial and Economic Union, an organization focused on creating jobs and supporting black entrepreneurs.
In 1967, Brown invited some of the nation’s top black athletes, including Boston Celtics star Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor (later known as Abdul-Jabbar), to the Economic Association office in Cleveland to support Muhammad Ali. did, which was taken away. His title for refusing to be drafted in protest of the Vietnam War.
It was this spirit of strength, fearlessness that propelled the Brown and Strong generations forward.
LeBron James posted shortly after Brown’s death, “I hope that every Black athlete takes the time to educate themselves about this incredible man and what he did to change all of our lives.” “We all stand on your shoulders, Jim Brown. If you grew up in Northeast Ohio and were black, Jim Brown was a godsend.”
James has emulated Brown, perhaps more than any other star athlete in the past 60 years. Growing up in Northeast Ohio, he got to know player Jim Brown before recognizing there was more to him.
“I truly find him to be the greatest Cleveland Brown of all time,” James wrote on his Instagram page. “Then I began my journey as a professional athlete and realized that what he did socially was his true greatness. When I choose to speak, I always think of Jim Brown. I speak only because Because Jim broke down those walls for me.”
As he read for the opening tip of Game 3 of the 2015 NBA Finals in Cleveland, James watched Brown sitting in a courtside seat. He turned to the icon, put his hands together and bowed in respect, only to have Brown nod in return.
A year later, when the Cavaliers ended the city’s 52-year championship drought, the two giants stood side-by-side on a podium. Brown handed the Larry O’Brien Trophy to James in a symbolic passing of the torch.
He had already given her everything.
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