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"Speed, quickness, balance, strength, intelligence-your success comes when you know how to use a combination of those five."

— Jim Brown

Brown's practice jersey, 1959
Artifact Detailsview larger

During the 1959 NFL season, Brown led the league in attempts (290), rushing yards (1,329), and touchdowns (14).

— Gift of Sports Illustrated


Jim Brown
Football and Movie Star

Jim Brown leveraged his football stardom and Hollywood looks into superstar status. Although his physical prowess is legendary, Brown's greatest legacy may be his way of using popularity and position to champion social activism.

He joined the Cleveland Browns in 1957, after a spectacular multi-sport college career. Later that year, he became the first person to win both Rookie of the Year and League MVP. In 1963, he became the first player to rush over one mile in a single season. Bruising his way through his nine-season professional career, Brown led the league in rushing eight seasons and never missed a game. When he left the NFL in 1966, Brown had more yards gained, more rushing touchdowns, and more total touchdowns than any NFL athlete in history.

Brown retired from football as the highest-paid, most-honored NFL player of his time. Then he turned to Hollywood, where he starred in dozens of films, including The Dirty Dozen and Ice Station Zebra. Hollywood turned out to be a steppingstone to Brown's high-profile social activism-founding the Black Economic Union, and with the help of Colin Powell, Amer-I-Can, an organization dedicated to supporting at-risk youth.

Name: James Nathaniel Brown
Born: St. Simons Island, Georgia, 1936–
  • First NFL player to win Rookie of the Year and Most Valuable Player in the same season, Cleveland Browns, 1957
  • NFL MVP, 1958, 1965
  • 8-time NFL leading rusher
  • 9 Pro Bowl appearances
  • 126 career touchdowns
  • More than 30 Hollywood film roles
  • Social activist working for equal rights and at-risk youth
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