refer to caption
Brown in 1961
Date of birth: February 17, 1936 (age 80)
Place of birth: St. Simons, Georgia
Height: 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight: 232 lb (105 kg)
High school: Manhasset (NY)
NFL draft: 1957 / Round: 1 / Pick: 6
Cleveland Browns (1957–1965)
Career highlights and awards
8× Pro Bowl (1957–1961, 1963–1965)
8× First-team All-Pro (1957–1961, 1963–1965)
4× NFL MVP (1957, 1958, 1963, 1965)
8× NFL rushing yards leader (1957–1961, 1963–1965)
5× NFL rushing TDs leader (1957–1959, 1963, 1965)
NFL champion (1964)
NFL Rookie of the Year (1957)
NFL 1960s All-Decade Team
NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
Cleveland Browns No. 32 retired
Consensus All-American (1956)
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards: 12,312
Rushing average: 5.2
Rushing touchdowns: 106
Receiving yards: 2,499
Receiving touchdowns: 20
Player stats at NFL.com
Pro Football Hall of Fame
College Football Hall of Fame
James Nathaniel Brown (born February 17, 1936) is a former professional American football player, lacrosse player, and actor. He is best known for his record-setting nine-year career as a fullback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 through 1965. In 2002, he was named by Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever. 
1 Early life
2 College sports career
3 Professional football career
4 Acting career
6 Other post-football activities
7 Football accolades
Brown was born in St. Simons, Georgia, to Swinton Brown, a professional boxer, and his wife, Theresa, a homemaker.
At Manhasset Secondary School, Brown earned 13 letters playing football, lacrosse, baseball, basketball, and running track alongside of his now distant cousin Mario Lee Brown of Elyria, Ohio.
Mr. Brown credits his self-reliance to having grown up on Saint Simons Island, a community off the coast of Georgia where he was raised by his grandmother and where racism did not affect him directly. At the age of 8 he moved to Manhasset, New York, on Long Island, where his mother worked as a domestic. It was at Manhasset High School that he became a football star and athletic legend.
— The New York Times - film review, 2002.
He averaged a then-Long Island record 38 points per game for his basketball team. That record was later broken by future Boston Red Sox star Carl Yastrzemski of Bridgehampton.
College sports career
As a sophomore at Syracuse University (1954), Brown was the second leading rusher on the team. As a junior, he rushed for 666 yards (5.2 per carry). In his senior year, Brown was a unanimous first-team All-American. He finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, and set school records for highest season rush average (6.2) and most rushing touchdowns in a single game (6). He ran for 986 yards—third most in the country despite Syracuse playing only eight games—and scored 14 touchdowns. In the regular-season finale, a 61–7 rout of Colgate, he rushed for 197 yards, scored six touchdowns and kicked seven extra points for 43 points (another school record). Then in the Cotton Bowl, he rushed for 132 yards, scored three touchdowns and kicked three extra points. But a blocked extra point after Syracuse's third touchdown was the difference as TCU won 28–27.
Brown is a member of The Pigskin Club of Washington, D.C. National Intercollegiate All-American Football Players Honor Roll.
Perhaps more impressive was his success as a multi-sport athlete. In addition to his football accomplishments, he excelled in basketball, track, and especially lacrosse. As a sophomore, he was the second leading scorer for the basketball team (15 ppg), and earned a letter on the track team. His junior year, he averaged 11.3 points in basketball, and was named a second-team All-American in lacrosse. His senior year, he was named a first-team All-American in lacrosse (43 goals in 10 games to rank second in scoring nationally).
Professional football career
Brown with Cleveland,
A helmet signed by Brown in exhibition.
Brown was taken in the first round of the 1957 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, the sixth overall selection. After only nine years in the NFL, he departed as the NFL record holder for both single-season (1,863 in 1963) and career rushing (12,312 yards), as well as the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (106), total touchdowns (126), and all-purpose yards (15,549). He was the first player ever to reach the 100-rushing-touchdowns milestone, and only a few others have done so since, despite the league's expansion to a 16-game season in 1978 (Brown's first four seasons were only 12 games, and his last five were 14 games).
Brown's record of scoring 100 touchdowns in only 93 games stood until LaDainian Tomlinson did it in 89 games during the 2006 season. Brown holds the record for total seasons leading the NFL in all-purpose yards (5: 1958–1961, 1964), and is the only rusher in NFL history to average over 100 yards per game for a career. In addition to his rushing, Brown was a superb receiver out of the backfield, catching 262 passes for 2,499 yards and 20 touchdowns, while also adding another 628 yards returning kickoffs.
Every season he played, Brown was voted into the Pro Bowl, and he left the league in style by scoring three touchdowns in his final Pro Bowl game. Perhaps the most amazing feat is that he accomplished these records despite not playing past 29 years of age. Brown's 6 games with at least 4 touchdowns remains an NFL record. Tomlinson and Marshall Faulk both have five games with 4 touchdowns.
Brown led the league in rushing a record eight times.
He told me, 'Make sure when anyone tackles you he remembers how much it hurts.' He lived by that philosophy and I always followed that advice.
— John Mackey, 1999.
Brown's 1,863 rushing yards in the 1963 season remain a Cleveland franchise record. It is currently the oldest franchise record for rushing yards out of all 32 NFL teams. His average of 133 yards per game that season is exceeded only by O.J. Simpson's 1973 season. While others have compiled more prodigious statistics, when viewing Brown's standing in the game, his style of running must be considered along with statistical measures. He was very difficult to tackle (shown by his leading 5.2 yards per carry), often requiring more than one defender to bring him down.
Brown retired in July 1966, after only nine seasons as the NFL's all-time leading rusher. He held the record of 12,312 yards until it was broken by Walter Payton on October 7, 1984, during Payton's 10th NFL season. Brown is still the Cleveland Browns all-time leading rusher. Currently Jim Brown is ninth on the all-time rushing list.
During Brown's career, Cleveland won the NFL championship in 1964 and were runners-up in 1957 and 1965, his rookie and final season, respectively.
Brown & Janet MacLachlan in ...tick...tick...tick... (1970).
Brown began an acting career before the 1964 season, playing a Buffalo Soldier in a western action film called Rio Conchos. The film premiered at Cleveland's Hippodrome theater on October 23, with Brown and many of his teammates in attendance. The reaction was lukewarm. Brown, one reviewer said, was a serviceable actor, but the movie's overcooked plotting and implausibility amounted to "a vigorous melodrama for the unsqueamish."
In early 1966, Brown was shooting his second film in London. The Dirty Dozen cast Brown as Robert Jefferson, one of twelve convicts sent to France during World War II to assassinate German officers meeting at a castle near Rennes in Brittany before the D-Day invasion. Production delays due to bad weather meant he would miss at least the first part of training camp on the campus of Hiram College, which annoyed Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell, who threatened to fine Brown $1,500 for every week of camp he missed. Brown, who had previously said that 1966 would be his last season, the final year of a three-year contract, announced his retirement instead. At the end of his nine-year career, Brown held records for most rushing yards in a game, a season and a career. He also owned the record for all-purpose yards in a career and best average per carry for a running back at 5.22 yards, a mark that still stands.
Brown went on to play a villain in a 1967 episode of I Spy called "Cops and Robbers", and appeared in the 1970 movie ...tick...tick...tick..., as well as in numerous other features. Biographer Mike Freeman credits Brown with becoming "the first black action star", thanks to roles like the Marine captain he portrayed in the hit 1968 film Ice Station Zebra.
In 1969, Brown starred in 100 Rifles with Burt Reynolds and Raquel Welch. The film was one of the first to feature an interracial love scene. Raquel Welch reflects on the scene in Spike Lee's Jim Brown: All-American. Brown acted with Fred Williamson in films such as 1974's Three the Hard Way, 1975's Take a Hard Ride, 1982's One Down, Two to Go, 1996's Original Gangstas and 2002's On the Edge. He also guest-starred in a handful of television episodes of various programs with Williamson. In 1998, he voiced Butch Meathook in the film Small Soldiers.
Perhaps Brown's most memorable roles were as Robert Jefferson in The Dirty Dozen, and in Keenen Ivory Wayans' 1988 comedy I'm Gonna Git You Sucka. Brown also acted in 1987's The Running Man, an adaptation of a Stephen King story, as Fireball. He played a defensive coach, Montezuma Monroe, in Any Given Sunday, and also appeared in Sucker Free City and Mars Attacks!. Brown appeared in some TV shows including Knight Rider in the season 3 premiere episode "Knight of the Drones". Brown appeared alongside football hero Joe Namath on The A-Team episode "Quarterback Sneak". Brown also appeared on ChiPs, episode 1 and 2, in season 3, as a pickpocket on roller skates.
Filmography Year Title Role Notes
1964 Rio Conchos Sgt. Franklyn First Film
1967 The Dirty Dozen Robert Jefferson
1968 Dark of the Sun Ruffo Lead
Ice Station Zebra Capt. Leslie Anders
The Split McClain Lead
1969 Riot Cully Briston Lead
100 Rifles Lyedecker Lead
The Grasshopper Tommy Marcott
Kenner Roy Kenner Lead
1970 ...tick...tick...tick... Jimmy Price Lead
El Condor Luke Lead
1972 Slaughter Slaughter Lead
Black Gunn Gunn Lead
1973 Slaughter's Big Rip-Off Slaughter Lead
The Slams Curtis Hook Lead
1974 I Escaped from Devil's Island Le Bras Lead
Three the Hard Way Jimmy Lait Lead
1975 Take a Hard Ride Pike Lead
1977 Vengeance Isaac Lead
1978 Fingers Dreems
Pacific Inferno Clyde Preston Lead
1982 One Down, Two to Go J Lead
1985 Lady Blue Stoker
1987 The Running Man Fireball
1988 I'm Gonna Git You Sucka Slammer
1989 L.A. Heat Captain
Crack House Steadman
1990 Killing American Style Sunset
Twisted Justice Morris
Hammer, Slammer, & Slade Slammer
1992 The Divine Enforcer King
1996 Original Gangstas Jake Trevor
Mars Attacks! Byron Williams
1998 He Got Game Spivey
Small Soldiers Butch Meathook Voice
1999 New Jersey Turnpikes Unknown
Any Given Sunday Montezuma Monroe
2002 On the Edge Chad Grant
2004 She Hate Me Geronimo Armstrong
Sucker Free City Don Strickland
2005 Animal Berwell
2006 Sideliners Monroe
2010 Dream Street Unknown
2014 Draft Day Himself
Other post-football activities
Brown at an autograph signing in 2004.
Brown in November 2007.
Brown during an interview at the Civil Rights Summit, 2014.
Brown served as a color analyst on NFL telecasts for CBS in 1978, teaming with Vin Scully and George Allen.
In 1983, seventeen years after retiring from professional football, Brown mused about coming out of retirement to play for the Los Angeles Raiders when it appeared that Pittsburgh Steelers running back Franco Harris would break his all-time rushing record. Brown disliked Harris' style of running, criticizing the Steeler running back's tendency to run out of bounds, a marked contrast to Brown's approach of fighting for every yard and taking on the oncoming tackler. Eventually, Walter Payton of the Chicago Bears broke the record on October 7, 1984, with Brown having ended thoughts of a comeback. Harris himself, who retired after the 1984 season after playing eight games with the Seattle Seahawks, fell short of Brown's mark. Following Harris's last season, in that January a challenge between Brown and Harris in a 40-yard dash was nationally televised. Brown, at 48-years old was certain he could beat Harris even though Harris was only 34-years old and just ending his elite career. Harris clocked in at 5.16 seconds, and Brown in at 5.72 seconds. Youth prevailed, and Brown said "Franco beat me fair and square".
Brown's autobiography was published in 1989 by Zebra Books. It was titled Out of Bounds and was co-written with Steve Delsohn. He was a subject of the book Jim: The Author's Self-Centered Memoir of the Great Jim Brown, by James Toback.
In 1993, Brown was hired as a color commentator for the Ultimate Fighting Championship, a role he occupied for the first six pay-per-view events.
In 1988 Brown founded the Amer-I-Can Program. He currently works with kids caught up in the gang scene in Los Angeles and Cleveland through this Amer-I-Can program. It is a life management skills organization that operates in inner cities and prisons.
Brown was convicted of misdemeanor vandalism in 1999 for damaging the automobile of his wife, Monique. Rather than participate in domestic violence counseling, community service, and probation, Brown chose instead to serve several months in jail, because, he said, "The conditions of my sentence were ridiculous."
In 2002, film director Spike Lee released the film Jim Brown: All-American, a retrospective on Brown's professional career and personal life.
In 2008, Brown initiated a lawsuit against Sony and EA Sports for using his likeness in the Madden NFL video game series. He claimed that he "never signed away any rights that would allow his likeness to be used".
As of 2008, Brown was serving as an Executive Advisor to the Cleveland Browns, assisting to build relationships with the team's players and to further enhance the NFL's wide range of sponsored programs through the team's player programs department.
On May 29, 2013, Brown was named as a Special Advisor to the Browns.
Brown is also a part owner of the New York Lizards of Major League Lacrosse, joining a group of investors in the purchase of the team in 2012. 
Brown's memorable professional career led to his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, while The Sporting News selected him as the greatest football player of all time. Brown's football accomplishments at Syracuse garnered him a berth in the College Football Hall of Fame. Brown also earned a spot in the Lacrosse Hall of Fame, giving him a rare triple crown of sorts. Brown, Ted Williams, and Cal Hubbard are the only athletes to be inducted into the Halls of Fame of more than one professional sport.
Brown's claim to the title of greatest running back of all time is supported by statistics. In 118 career games, Brown averaged 104.3 yards per game and 5.2 yards per carry. None of the NFL's career rushing leaders come close to these spectacular totals. For example, Walter Payton averaged only 88 yards per game during his career with a 4.4 yards-per-carry average. Emmitt Smith averaged only 81.2 yards per game with a 4.2 yards-per-carry average. Brown has famously said on the subject: "When running backs get in a room together, they don't argue about who is the best."
The only top-ten all-time rusher who even approaches Brown's totals, Barry Sanders, posted a career average of 99.8 yards per game and 5.0 yards per carry. However, Barry Sanders' father, William, was frequently quoted as saying that Jim Brown was "the best I've ever seen."
Brown currently holds NFL records for most games with 24 or more points in a career (6), highest career touchdowns per game average (1.068), most career games with 3 or more touchdowns (14), most games with 4 or more touchdowns in a career (6), most seasons leading the league in rushing attempts (6), most seasons leading league in rushing yards (8), highest career rushing yards per game average (104.3), most seasons leading the league in touchdowns (5), most seasons leading the league in yards from scrimmage (6), highest average yards from scrimmage per game in a career (125.52), most seasons leading the league in combined net yards (5).
On November 4, 2010, Brown was chosen by NFL Network's NFL Films production The Top 100: NFL's Greatest Players as the second-greatest player in NFL history, behind only Jerry Rice.