The Cleveland Sports Scene Part 1: Jim Brown, The Heart of Cleveland Football

The Cleveland Sports Scene Part 1: Jim Brown, The Heart of Cleveland Football #football #JimBrown #Cleveland #sports

Photo by Jason Sponseller, courtesy of Shutterstock

The Cleveland Browns

Any kid growing up in Cleveland in the 1960s knew that 32 wasn’t just a random number. It was synonymous with the legendary Cleveland Browns fullback, Jim Brown. He passed away recently, and I thought I would share my own memories of what he meant to every fan in the City.

Brown was drafted 6th overall out of Syracuse by the Browns at a time when the game was far more dependent upon the run. Having a solid fullback was critical because it was more of a “three yards and a cloud of dust” game, especially in Ohio, where the Browns had names like #44 Leroy Kelly, #49 Bobby Mitchell, and Jimmy Brown. Each of these three great Cleveland running backs is enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

But none was more worshipped by the sports addicts than the great #32.

Watching The Cleveland Browns Play

The image that sticks with me from watching him play when I was a kid is that he seemed unstoppable. When you saw him in a game, it just seemed like he was too big, too strong, and too determined, to be tackled. He dominated every game he played in, and when we went to the games or watched them on TV (a religious ritual in my house), we lived for the plays where he got the ball.

How great was he? He appeared in nine consecutive Pro Bowls and was named the NFL’s MVP three times (1957, 1958, and 1965).  Brown owns team records for most combined net yards (15,459), career rushing yards (12,312), most points in one season (126), career TDs (126), rushing TDs (106), most consecutive games scoring a TD (10) and most 1,000 yard seasons (seven).

When he announced his retirement in 1966, I honestly can report that the wind seemed to go out of the sails of the Cleveland Browns. The team really has never had a superstar on his level since then. That’s probably why they erected a statue of him, to honor what he meant to the city.

The Cleveland Sports Scene Part 1: Jim Brown, The Heart of Cleveland Football #football #JimBrown #Cleveland #sports

Jim Brown’s Life and Legacy

Jim Brown’s life after football was a mixed bag. He got dozens of parts in movies (most notably The Dirty Dozen, did some sports commentating, civil rights work, and advised the rock group The Friends of Distinction. He also wound up as an advisor to the Browns at one point.

But it wasn’t all good. His post-football story is filled with a variety of alleged criminal activities and abuse. He managed to avoid any serious conviction or jail time, but it does seem like an unfortunate stain on his memory.

Still, to any of us who idolized the man as a kid, Jim Brown will always be a hero.


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