Jim Brown, Football Great and Civil Rights Champion, Dies at 87

Cleveland Browns full-back Jim Brown, hailed as one of the greatest players in professional football history, remained in the public eye as a Hollywood action hero and civil rights activist, but later faced accusations of violent conduct. died Thursday night at her home in Los Angeles after speaking out against a woman whose name was tarnished by he was 87 years old.

His family announced his death on Instagram on Friday.

After earning All-American honors in football and lacrosse at Syracuse University, he played for the Browns from 1957 to 1965, leading Cleveland to the 1964 National Football League championship.

In every game, when he wasn’t running over defenders or flattening them with his straight arm, he was dragging defenders. He fended them off with his footwork when he hadn’t swept the ends past them. He broke through the defense line in 118 straight regular-season games, never missing a game, but played one year with a broken toe and another year with a sprained wrist.

“All you can do is grab, grab, hang on and wait for help,” Sam Huff, a Hall of Fame middle linebacker for the Giants and Washington Redskins (now Commanders), once told Time magazine.

Brown was named the greatest football player of the 20th century by a panel of six experts assembled by the Associated Press in 1999. In 2010, the 85-person panel of experts selected by NFL Movies ranked him second only to wide receiver Jerry Rice. He is a member of the San Francisco 49ers.

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1984, and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.

Brown was still in great shape and was just 30 when he surprised the football world in the summer of 1966 by retiring to pursue an acting career.

He was to appear in the 1964 western Rio Conchos, film the World War II film Dirty Dozen in England, and then attend Browns training camp. However, the filming was delayed due to rain. When he notified Browns owner Art Model of the late report, Model said he would be fined for each day he missed camp. Embarrassed by the threat, Brown held a press conference to announce his retirement from professional football.

When the modern civil rights movement was gaining momentum in the 1950s, few elite athletes spoke out on race issues. But Brown had no hesitation.

While playing for the Browns, he worked to promote economic development in Cleveland’s black neighborhoods and founded the Black Business Economics Union (later known as the Black Economics Union) as a means of creating jobs. This reflects his long-standing belief that economic self-sufficiency holds more promise than mass protests, with loans to black businessmen in poor neighborhoods—what he called green power. — promoted.

In June 1967, Brown invited other influential black athletes, notably Bill Russell and Lou Alcindah (later Kareem Abdul-Jabbar), to the office of the Economic Union to discuss Muhammad Ali’s then-religious, I heard an explanation of moral beliefs. He was stripped of his boxing heavyweight title and was at risk of imprisonment for refusing to draft him in protest against the Vietnam War.

At the meeting, later called the Ali Summit and considered a watershed in the development of racial consciousness among athletes, Brown and other attendees publicly voiced their support for Ali.

By the early 1970s, the Brown Economic Union had all but disappeared. However, in the late 1980s he founded the Ame I Can Foundation, primarily to teach gang members and prisoners in California basic life skills and keep them away from continued wanton violence. The foundation continues to expand and operate nationwide.

Handsome with a great build, he was a chiseled 6 feet 2 inches and weighed 230 pounds. Brown starred in many movies and was sometimes cited as a black Superman in cinematic adventures.

“The range of emotions that Brown exhibited onscreen was not as wide as the Mailslot, but he never shamed, never played the humiliating stereotype of a comedian,” James Walcott of New York – Written in a book review by Dave Zirin of Review of Books. 2018 biography Jim Brown: The Last Man Standing. He called Brown “a more assertive figure, a solid body for the black superman”.

One of Brown’s most memorable roles was in The Dirty Dozen (1967), in which 12 men were recruited by the Army for a near-suicidal mission to kill a German officer imprisoned in a castle in France. played one of the prisoners of It slowed the Nazi reaction to the expected Normandy landings. He next played a Marine Captain in the Cold War thriller Ice Station Zebra (1968).

In 1969, his character had sex with Raquel Welch’s character in 100 Rifles, the first Hollywood blockbuster western about a black man having sex with a white woman.

Brown “was becoming a black John Wayne, or maybe a John Wayne with a touch of Malcolm X,” Gloria Steinem wrote in New York magazine in 1968. She quoted him. “I don’t want to play black roles. Cool tough modern men who are also black. And they aren’t always nice.”

But Brown had a troubled personal life.

At a time when prominent men such as athletes, actors and politicians were generally impervious to public accountability for their crimes against women, he was arrested more than six times, most of them for violence committed by women. had been indicted.

However, Brown was never convicted of any serious crime. In some cases, accusers refused to testify, and in other cases, juries acquitted them.

The first charges against Brown were filed in 1965, when an 18-year-old woman testified that he assaulted her at a Cleveland motel. Brown denied the charges and was acquitted at a jury trial. A year later, the woman filed a civil paternity suit alleging that Brown was the father of her baby daughter. The jury ruled in his favor.

In June 1968, police arrived at Brown’s Hollywood home following a call from a neighbor to report a disturbance, and found Brown’s girlfriend Eva Bournechin, 22, bloodied and seriously injured, on the patio. was found lying in They suspected that Brown had pushed her off an upstairs balcony. He said her girlfriend had fallen. Ms Bourchin refused to testify, so her assault charges were dismissed. Mr Brown paid a $300 fine for obstructing a police officer who wanted to break into his home.

Brown’s wife, Sue Brown, had three children, but divorced in 1972.

When Spike Lee released the documentary Jim Brown: All-American in 2022, Brown was in a Los Angeles-area prison after losing an appeal to a 1999 misdemeanor conviction for criminal damage to property. Brown’s wife Monique Brown called the police at the time. He reportedly smashed her car window with a shovel after the altercation.

Brown refused counseling on community service and anger management, and was jailed for nearly four months. However, her married life continued.

“I can definitely get angry and I’ve vented that anger inappropriately in the past,” Brown told Sports Illustrated in an interview in prison. “But I did it with both men and women.”

(Brown was sentenced to one day in prison and a $500 fine in 1978 for punching and strangling a male friend during a golf game in Inglewood, Calif., apparently because the friend was It was the end of an argument over where to put the ball on the 9th green.)

“So do I have a problem with women?” Brown added in an interview. “No. I have been angry and will probably continue to be angry, but I must never attack anyone again.”

Brown has long claimed that his race and celebrity status have made him a victim. Speaking about the Balcony incident in an April 1969 interview with Judy Kremeslud of The New York Times, he said: To be militant, I have been free-spirited and outspoken about race issues, but I have not preached against extremist black groups and have not been humble. ”

A full obituary will be posted soon.

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