Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown has died at the age of 87, according to his wife Monique. Announcing the news on Instagram, she said that Brown had "passed peacefully" at their Los Angeles home on Thursday night.
Brown was a legendary figure who helped define the early days of the professional football. After a successful career at Syracuse University, Brown was drafted by the Cleveland Browns. He retired after eight seasons and a pre-merger NFL Championship in 1964. After retiring, Brown became a prolific actor and community organizer. In 1988, he found Amer-I-Can, a program that helped rehabilitate gang members.
Jim Brown - The Man Who Walked Away In His Prime
Starting out as a four-sport athlete in Long Island, Brown committed himself to football and in 1954, joined Ben Schwartzwalder's Syracuse Orange squad. While the Orange would win a National Championship in 1959, they went just 16-9 over Brown's three seasons on the team. Their best season was in 1956, when they went 7-2 and made the Cotton Bowl. Brown rushed for 986 yards and 13 touchdowns that season was drafted sixth overall by the Cleveland Browns in 1957. Over the next eight years, Brown amassed 12,312 rushing yards and 106 touchdowns. He was the NFL rushing yards leader in all eight seasons he played and led the league in rushing touchdowns five times. Brown's jersey has been retired by both Syracuse and the Browns. However, Brown abruptly retired at the age of 30 and just one year removed from the Browns' 1964 NFL title.
Brown wanted to act and had been cast in The Dirty Dozen. But production ran long and Browns owner Art Modell threatened to cut his pay, so Brown hung up his cleats. He would go on to make 51 on-screen appearances, many as a leading man at MGM. He also enjoyed a long career in sports broadcasting and fight announcing, becoming the first black boxing announcer on a televised broadcast in 1965. However, regardless of his accomplishments on the field and big screen, Brown also faced numerous legal challenges regarding his treatment of women. Brown was charged with assault, rape, and even attempted murder in various cases against at least eight women. While the charges were dropped or Brown was acquitted in all cases, it is just as much part of his legacy as his football prowess.