Jim Brown (1936-present) means a lot to Syracuse University, the Cleveland Browns, the NFL and the black community.
First off, Brown had a legendary career at Syracuse. The fast and super strong Brown excelled at football, basketball, track and especially lacrosse. He was the Orange's second-leading scorer as a sophomore. In lacrosse, he was named was named a second-team and first-team All-American his junior and senior years, respectively.
But football stood out over all the rest. Brown was an effective back who was a unanimous First Team All-American as a senior, finishing fifth in Heisman voting. He ran for 986 yards (6.2 yards per carry) in only eight games (third most in the country) and scored 14 total touchdowns.
Brown's impressive senior season propelled him to become the No. 6 pick of the Cleveland Browns in the 1957 NFL draft. At Cleveland, Brown put together perhaps the most impressive professional football career ever.
In just nine seasons, Brown left as the record-holder in single-season rushing (1,863 yards in 1963), career rushing (12,312 yards), rushing touchdowns (106), total touchdowns (126) and all-purpose yards (15,549). All those records have since been eclipsed, but he still remains in the Top 10 in many categories.
First Down Brown still holds the yards per game (104.3 yards) and carry (5.2) career marks That's more than other rushing greats Barry Sanders (99.8 yards-per-game, 5.0 yards-per-carry), Walter Payton (88 yards-per- game, 4.4 yards-per-carry) and Emmitt Smith (81.2 yards-per-game, 4.2 yards-per-carry).
What's more telling about Brown's accomplishments in 118 games and never missed a contest during his nine-year career. He was an eight-time First-Team All-Pro selection, an eight-time NFL rushing champion, a nine-time NFL All-Star, a three-time NFL MVP (1957-58, 1965) and was named to the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team.
Brown was the first player in NFL history to win both the Rookie of the Year Award and an MVP in the same season (1957).
He was inducted in the College Football (1995), Pro Football (1971) and Lacrosse (1983) Hall of Fames. His No. 32 was retired by the Browns, while The Sporting News and NFL.com rank him the No. 1 and No. 2 greatest NFL player of all-time, respectively.
After his playing career, Brown starred in over 30 films, including popular flicks like The Dirty Dozen (1967) and Ice Station Zebra (1968). Biographer Mike Freeman said Brown was “the first black action star” in Jim Brown: The Fierce Life Of An American Hero (2007).
Brown has since founded the Black Economic Union and established Amer-I-Can, an organization dedicated to supporting at-risk youth in Cleveland and Los Angeles, with Colin Powell.