Jim Brown, all-time great NFL running back, dead at 87 — rest in peace

Jim Brown, the former Cleveland Browns running back regarded by many as the greatest football player of all time, has died at 87.

A legend on the football field, Brown was also known as a champion for social activism and for his acting career.

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According to AP, Brown died peacefully in his Los Angeles home last night with his wife Monique by his side.

“To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star,” an Instagram post from his family read. “To our family he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken.”

Born February 17, 1936 in Georgia, Brown rose to prominence in an era when the US was still largely segregated. He earned unanimous All-American honors playing college football at Syracuse University. A two-sport athlete he also played lacrosse, and is regarded as one of the best lacrosse players of all time.

Cleveland Browns as the sixth overall pick in the 1957 NFL Draft, Brown quickly established himself as one of the all-time great football stars, a fullback with unmatched speed, power and agility. He broke records by consistently surpassing the 1,000-yard rushing mark and becoming the first player to rush over 10,000 yards, a record that stood for decades.

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Brown played his entire career for Cleveland. He was a Pro Bowl invitee every season he played, led the league in rushing yards in 8 of his 9 seasons, and led the Browns to championship victory in 1964. Brown was known for his remarkable durability despite the tough sport, almost never missing a game in his career.

UNDATED: American football player, running back Jim Brown, #32 of the Cleveland Browns, stands on the field during a game. Jim Brown played for the Browns from 1957-1965. (Photo by Focus on Sport via Getty Images)

After setting most of the league’s rushing records, Brown made the surprising decision to retire at the peak of his career, due to his growing interest in both acting and social and political activism.

Brown had a successful Hollywood career throughout the 1960s and 70s. One of his most famous movie roles is the classic war action film The Dirty Dozen. Another notable film was 100 Rifles, which broke ground with an interracial romance between Brown and actress Raquel Welch.

Publicity handout of ex-football player turned actor Jim Brown. He is wearing a black leather jacket with a black and white stripped shirt underneath it.

Brown was also a prominent activist in the civil rights movement and beyond, using his fame as an NFL legend to fight for equal rights for Black Americans. He founded Negro Industrial and Economic Union in the mid 1960s, and the Amer-I-Can program aimed at helping at-risk youth receive education and life skills.

He also organized the “Cleveland Summit,” in which he and other prominent Black athletes voiced their support for Muhammad Ali, who had just been stripped of his titles for refusing to serve in Vietnam.

Today, Jim Brown is still widely regarded as the best NFL running back of all time, and one of the all-time great football players in history: The Sporting News and The New York Daily News both listed him as the greatest football player of all time.

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He was inducted to the Pro Hall of Fame in 1971. His number 32 was retired by the Cleveland Browns. Today, he still holds many NFL records.

“It’s impossible to describe the profound love and and gratitude we feel for having the opportunity to be a small piece of Jim’s incredible life and legacy,” the Browns said in a statement after his death. “We mourn his passing, but celebrate the indelible light he brought to the world.

“Our hearts are with Jim’s family, loved ones, and all those he impacted along the way.”

Rest in peace to the incomparable Jim Brown, truly one of the greatest NFL players in history and an iconic actor and activist.

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