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At 87, Jim Brown, widely regarded as the greatest running back to some and a champion freedom fighter to others, has passed.
According to NBC News, a spokeswoman for Brown’s family said he passed away peacefully in his Los Angeles home on Thursday night with his wife, Monique, by his side.
Brown played nine season for the Cleveland Browns and rushed for 12,312 yards and 106 touchdowns, the 11th and sixth most in NFL history, respectively.
But even those impressive numbers don’t fully reflect Brown’s magnificent NFL career, which he cut short to pursue a second career in Hollywood. He rushed for 5.2 yards per carry, by far the most of any player for more than 10,000 career running yards.
He led the Browns to the 1964 NFL title and Cleveland lost the 1965 title game.
“Showing weakness will encourage your opponents. It inspires them. It encourages them to hit harder. To come faster. But when you don’t show any fear, or when you don’t show any hurt, you have the opportunity to discourage your opponent. You discourage your enemies. The bottom line is, if you think properly, you don’t even have to think about all of that. All you have to think about is that guy across from me is human, and so am I. And he’ll never out-work me. He’ll never out-think me. And if you can’t out-work me, and you can’t out-think me, you’ll never beat me.”Jim Brown
More Than An Athlete, Jim Brown Spoke Truth To Power In The Face Of Opposition
Brown was on the London set of “The Dirty Dozen” and was going to report late to training camp in late summer 1966 when team owner Art Modell publicly ordered his star running back to return to America and be on time for preseason drills.
Unafraid of going 0 to a 100 real quick on and off the field, Brown soon after announced his retirement from London.
He would go on to famously convene what’s come to be known as the “Cleveland Summit,” where athletes like Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor and activists like Carl Stokes gathered to hear from Muhammed Ali and eventually rally to his cause.
Jim Brown witnessed Black History unfold before his eyes
While Ali was stripped of his championship belts and he was convicted of draft evasion, the U.S. Supreme Court would in 1971 throw out the conviction, ruling that the government had failed to properly consider Ali’s application as a conscientious objector.
“I’d like to make one thing very clear: Muhammad Ali loved people, and he had White friends as well as Black friends – and the only thing that he hated was discrimination and racism,” said Brown.
Discussing the ability to succeed, Brown once said, “Success is not only for the elite. Success is there for those who want it, plan for it, and take action to achieve it.”
May the ancestors welcome him with open arms.
RIP Jim Brown.