CLEVELAND, Ohio (92.3 The Fan) – Cleveland Browns Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown has passed away.
He was 87.
“It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my husband, Jim Brown,” Monique Brown, Brown’s wife, posted on the Hall of Famer’s official social media accounts. “He passed away peacefully last night at our LA home. To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star. To our family, he was a loving and wonderful husband, father and grandfather. Our hearts are broken.”
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Arguably the greatest running back of all time, Brown was an eight-time All-Pro and was named a Pro Bowler in each of his nine years in the NFL. He held the league’s records for yards with 12,312 and 126 touchdowns when he retired at the age of 30.
“Jim Brown is a true icon of not just the Cleveland Browns but the entire NFL,” Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in a statement released by the team. “He was certainly the greatest to ever put on a Browns uniform and arguably one of the greatest players in NFL history. Jim was one of the reasons the Browns have such a tremendous fan base today. So many people grew up watching him just dominate every time he stepped onto the football field but his countless accolades on the field only tell a small part of his story.”
In recent years Brown, who helped carry the Browns to their last NFL championship in 1964, served as a special advisor to the Haslams, who bought the franchise in 2012 and repaired what had become a fractured relationship with the franchise’s greatest player.
In 2016, the Browns commissioned and unveiled a statue outside of Cleveland Browns Stadium of Brown.
His No. 32 was retired by the club in 1971 and his name resides in the Ring of Honor alongside the franchise’s Hall of Famers and Clay Matthews Jr.
“On behalf of the entire NFL family, we extend our condolences to Monique and their family,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “Jim Brown was a gifted athlete -- one of the most dominant players to ever step on any athletic field -- but also a cultural figure who helped promote change.
“During his nine-year NFL career, which coincided with the civil rights movement here at home, he became a forerunner and role model for athletes being involved in social initiatives outside their sport. He inspired fellow athletes to make a difference, especially in the communities in which they lived.”
Earlier this year, the NFL renamed the rushing title trophy in honor of Brown – The Jim Brown Trophy.
“Maybe the greatest football player ever,” Hall of Fame elect and former Browns left tackle Joe Thomas tweeted. “Certainly the most impactful athlete of all time. RIP the legend Jim Brown.”
Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and was named to the NFL’s 100th anniversary all-time team in 2019, the “all-Decade team” for the 1960’s, the NFL’s 75th anniversary team and the All-Time NFL Team in 2000.
“When Jim Brown’s name was announced in a room, other Hall of Famers stood and applauded him,” Pro Football Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “His persona has stood the test of time – a fearless and dominant football player. Jim will always be remembered as one of pro football’s greatest individuals.
“Our thoughts and prayers are with Jim’s wife, Monique, and their entire family. The Hall of Fame will honor his legacy for years to come.”
During the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA championship celebration, Brown walked out with and handed the Larry O'Brien trophy to NBA Finals MVP LeBron James, a symbolic passing of the torch from one champion to another.
“We lost a hero today. Rest in Paradise to the legend Jim Brown,” James posted on his social media accounts. I hope every Black athlete takes the time to educate themselves about this incredible man and what he did to change all of our lives. We all stand on your shoulders Jim Brown.
“If you grew up in Northeast Ohio and were Black, Jim Brown was a God. As a kid who loved football, I really just thought of him as the greatest Cleveland Brown to ever play. Then I started my own journey as a professional athlete and realized what he did socially was his true greatness. When I choose to speak out, I always think about Jim Brown. I can only speak because Jim broke down those walls for me.
“I am so grateful that I was able to call you my friend. I hope I can continue to honor your legacy with my words and actions. My prayers to your family. I know they are all incredibly proud of everything you did for our community! #LegendsNeverDie.”
Brown retired at the peak of his career following a disagreement with then owner Art Modell to become an actor. He starred in over 30 films including “The Dirty Dozen,” “Mars Attacks!” and “Any Given Sunday.”
Brown became a social justice activist in the 1960s. He organized a summit in Cleveland in support of Muhammad Ali’s protest against the war in Vietnam with Bill Russell and Lew Alcindor, who later became Kareem Abdul-Jabbar.
“Jim Brown not only changed the game of football, but he changed the moral consciousness of the nation,” Cleveland mayor Justin Bibb tweeted. “Rest in power to the great Cleveland Browns legend and civil rights activist.”
Former president Barack Obama also remembered the Browns legend on Twitter.
“I was too young to remember Jim Brown’s playing days, but I knew his legacy,” President Obama tweeted. “One of the greatest football players ever, he was also an actor and activist – speaking out on civil rights, and pushing other Black athletes to do the same. Our thoughts are with Jim’s wife Monique, his children, and everyone who knew and admired him.”
Brown later founded the Amer-I-Can program to assist disadvantaged inner city youth.
“His commitment to making a positive impact for all of humanity off the field is what he should also be known for,” The Haslams said. “In the time we’ve spent with Jim, especially when we first became a part of the Browns, we learned so much from him about the unifying force sports can be and how to use sport as a vehicle for change while making a positive impact in the community. Jim broke down barriers just as he broke tackles. He fought for civil rights, brought athletes from all different sports together to use their platform for good. Many thought Jim retired from football too soon, but he always did it his way. From the football field, to Hollywood, to his work in athlete activism, Jim always played the leading role. His devotion to fighting racial injustice, improving education for youth and positively impacting the many lives he has through his Amer-I-Can Program has left a lasting legacy well beyond all he accomplished on the field.
Jim Brown is the Cleveland Browns and our thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Monique, his children and entire family as well as all those who mourn this immense loss.”