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The Incredible Football Player Jim Brown and His Legacy as an Actor and Civil Rights Activist

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Football player Jim Brown was one of the game’s greatest players. He ranks highly on the list of the best running backs in the league. Brown played in the National Football League (NFL) for eight years, retiring at the age of 30. 

He won the NFL and multiple awards for his performance. Apart from playing, Brown was a civil rights activist and actor. In this article, we detail his achievements on and off the field.

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Jim Brown’s Early Life

The Incredible Football Player Jim Brown and His Legacy as an Actor and Civil Rights Activist
Jim Brown attending a Cleveland Brown event. Source: Wikimedia licensed by CC-BY-2.0

Jim Brown’s childhood wasn’t easy. His father abandoned him, and his mother moved to New York for work, leaving him with his grandmother. At the age of eight, he moved in with his mother and joined Manhasset High School, where his football career began. His performance was good enough to land a spot at Syracuse University

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College Career

Despite his prowess playing the game, Syracuse University almost missed out on football player Jim Brown because of racism. Nonetheless, one of the University’s players Kenneth Molloy, advocated for his inclusion. 

Syracuse admitted him, and he was the only black footballer on the team. The school failed to honor its agreement for a full scholarship, so Molloy funded his education. He faced racist abuse. 

For example, he couldn’t access the same accommodation as white players and during games, fans taunted him. That notwithstanding, he said that racism didn’t affect him. 

Even in the face of such treatment, football player Jim Brown was one of the best players in his university team. He finished as the second rusher in the team, was a Consensus first-team All-American and had the most rushing touchdowns in a single game. 

In addition to football, Jim Brown played basketball, track & field and lacrosse. 

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Professional Career

A review of Jim Brown’s career. Video Credit: Nonstop

In 1957, Cleveland Brown drafted football player Jim Brown. He hit the ground running and produced a Rookie of the Season performance. The running back made 1 527 yards and 127.3 rushing yards, the most a player had made in a single season. 

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Brown also captured the most touchdowns in a season with 17. In the following seasons, he set the bar high for running backs with multiple records. He was: 

  • the NFL Rushing Yards Leader eight times.
  • NFL rushing Touchdowns Leader five times.
  • NFL Scoring Leader.

In 1964, football player Jim Brown led the Cleveland Browns to an NFL Championship. After a successful career, the running back unexpectedly announced his retirement from the sport in 1966. 

 In 1957, 1958 and 1965, Jim Brown was the league’s Most Valuable Player. Jim Brown left the league as the record holder in rushing yards (12, 312), and rushing touchdowns (106). He became an inductee into the Football Hall of Fame in 1977.

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Acting Career

Jim Brown transitioned to a film set and proved his dynamism. He appeared in several films, including:

Activism

Football player Jim Brown was vocal about racial issues plaguing America. He called on other athletes to join the movement to improve the lives of African American people. Brown worked with: 

He founded the Negro Industrial Economic Union, renamed to Black Economic Union, to open up financial opportunities to black people.

Jim Brown epitomized what we see in modern-day sports. He didn’t only see himself as a football player but as a changemaker. Brown used his platform to fight racial injustice and uplift the lives of African Americans. He died in May 2023 but his legacy in sport and society lives on.

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