Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown, the unstoppable running back who retired at the height of his glittering career to become an actor and prominent civil rights advocate in the 1960s, has died. He was 87 years old.
A spokeswoman for Brown’s family said he died peacefully at his Los Angeles home Thursday night with his wife, Monique, by his side.
One of the greatest players in football history and one of the game’s first superstars, Brown was voted the NFL’s Most Valuable Player in 1965 and shattered the league’s record books in a short career that spanned 1957-65.
[Sports world reacts to Jim Brown’s death]
Brown led the Cleveland Browns to their last NFL title in 1964 before retiring in his prime after the ’65 season to become an actor. He appeared in more than 30 films, including “Any Given Sunday” and “The Dirty Dozen.”
An unstoppable runner with power, speed and endurance, Brown’s arrival sparked the game’s growing popularity on television. After he finished playing, Brown became a prominent leader of the Black Power movement during the civil rights struggles of the 1960s.
In later years, he worked to curb gang violence in LA and founded Amer-I-Can, a program to help disadvantaged inner-city youth and ex-convicts.
On the field, there was no one like Brown, who would take on would-be tacklers, refusing to let a man bring him down before moving away from linebackers and defensive backs. He was also famous for using a stiff arm to throw defenders into the open field or push them away like they were rag dolls.
“My arms were like my shields and weapons,” Brown said during an interview with NFL Films.
In fact, Brown was unlike any running back before him, and some believe there has never been anyone better than Cleveland’s incomparable #32. At 6-foot-2 and 230 pounds, he was dominant, relentless and merciless, his highlight reels featuring runs. around and straight through opponents, fighting for every yard, dragging multiple defenders or finding holes where there seemed to be none.
After Brown was tackled, he would slowly get up and walk even more slowly back to the huddle, then dominate the defense when he got the ball back.
Report from The Associated Press.
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