Jim Brown, one of the greatest professional and college football players of all time, has died. He is 87 years old.
His wife Monique announced Brown’s death in an Instagram post Friday afternoon. She said Brown “passed peacefully” Thursday night at their home in Los Angeles.
“In the world he is an activist, actor, and football star,” the post said. “To our family he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken…”
In 2020, Brown was selected to the NFL 100 all-time team and was also ranked as No. He was named the greatest football player ever by Sporting News in 2002.
Brown, who was selected in the first round of the 1957 draft, played nine seasons for the Cleveland Browns (1957-65) and led the league in rushing in eight of those years. He rushed for 12,312 yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry in his career. He was also named a Pro Bowler every year he played. He led the Browns to the league championship game three times, won the title in 1964, and was named MVP three times.
He ran for at least 100 yards in 58 of his 118 regular-season games, never missing a game. He rushed for over 1,000 yards in seven seasons, including 1,527 yards in a 12-game season and 1,863 in a 14-game season.
Brown also worked to empower the Black community during the Civil Rights Movement. In June 1967, Brown organized “The Cleveland Summit,” a meeting of the nation’s top Black athletes, including Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor — who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar — to support the fight. of boxer Muhammad Ali against serving in Vietnam. In later years, Brown worked to prevent gang violence in Los Angeles and in 1988 founded Amer-I-Can, a program to help disadvantaged youth and ex-convicts.
Brown also advocates for modern athletes to be more involved in the Black community.
In a statement, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell called Brown a “gifted athlete” who “has been a pioneer and role model for athletes involved in social initiatives outside of their sports.”
“It is impossible to describe the deep love and gratitude we feel for having the opportunity to be a small piece of Jim’s extraordinary life and legacy,” the Browns said. said in a statement. “We mourn his passing, but celebrate the indelible light he brought to the world.
“Our hearts go out to Jim’s family, loved ones, and everyone he touched along the way.”
Jim Brown Forever 🧡🤎♾️
legend. Leader. Activist. vision.
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. We mourn his passing, but celebrate the indelible light that he… pic.twitter.com/F2rrTUnsc1
– Cleveland Browns (@Browns) May 19, 2023
Brown retired at age 30, at the peak of his career. He filmed the movie “The Dirty Dozen” during the offseason of 1966, and the production was delayed due to bad weather. Browns owner Art Modell threatened to suspend Brown’s salary if he did not report to training camp on time. Brown chose to retire, saying he wanted to focus his career on film and social issues.
Since his retirement, no Browns player has worn his No. 32, and a statue of him went up outside FirstEnergy Stadium in 2016.
“It’s a beautiful moment,” Brown said when the statue was unveiled, “because I feel it in my whole body, especially in my heart and mind.”
Current Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam called Brown “a true icon” for the NFL.
“He is truly the greatest to ever wear a Browns uniform and arguably one of the greatest players in NFL history,” a statement released Friday said. “Jim is one of the reasons the Browns have a huge fan base today. So many people grew up watching him just dominate every time he stepped on the football field but his countless Those awards in the field tell only a small part of his story.”
Brown lettered in four sports (football, lacrosse, basketball and track) during his college career at Syracuse, and he is also considered one of the greatest lacrosse players of all time, once scoring five goals in one half of a college all-star game.
At Syracuse, Brown also served as place-kicker during a game against Colgate in 1956, scoring an NCAA single-game record with 43 points on six touchdowns and seven extra points. During that same season, he led the nation in rushing touchdowns. In 1955, he led the nation in kickoff return average. Overall, he rushed for 2,091 yards and scored 26 TDs for the Orange.
“When Jim Brown’s name was announced in a room, other Hall of Famers stood and applauded him,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “His persona has stood the test of time — a fearless and dominant football player. Jim will always be remembered as one of the greatest individuals in pro football.”
Brown was involved in several off-field incidents, especially shortly after his retirement.
He was arrested half a dozen times, mostly on charges of beating women. He was once fined and given a day in jail after beating up his golf partner. He was accused of rape, sexual battery and assault in 1985 (the charges were later dropped). The following year he was arrested for allegedly beating his fiancé. In 1999, Brown was acquitted of domestic threats against his wife but was convicted of smashing her car window and spent time in jail when he refused to attend domestic violence counseling.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.