The Ultimate Brown
The Civic Leader
The Movie Star

A Short Bio

Born February 17, 1936, James Nathaniel Brown was the son of a professional boxer who would go on to become one of the best athletes of the 20th century. A four-sport standout at Syracuse University, Brown landed with the Cleveland Browns in 1957 and left such a mark over nine seasons that many believe he’s still the best running back that has ever played the game. Brown’s life and legacy, though, has gone well beyond the gridiron, as he pursued his civic passions that continue today and starred in numerous movies and TV shows from the 1960s all the way to the 2000s. At 80 years old, Brown has shown no signs of slowing down and continues to hold a role as a special advisor to the Browns.

The Ultimate Brown
The Civic Leader
The Movie Star

The Ultimate Brown

From Day 1, Brown embraced the role as Cleveland’s bell cow ball-carrier and went on to fill the record books and highlight reels over a memorable nine seasons.

Timeline Express

Nov. 17, 1956


In the penultimate game of his decorated career at Syracuse University, Brown accounts for 43 of the Orange’s 61 points in a rout of Colgate. The four-sport athlete (football, basketball, track and lacrosse) ran for 197 yards and six touchdowns and kicked seven extra points. The NCAA record of points scored by a single player stood for 34 years.

Nov. 26, 1956


The Browns select Brown with the sixth pick in the 1957 NFL Draft. He’s one of four future Hall of Famers to be selected in the first eight picks, joining Paul Hornung, Len Dawson and Jim Parker.

Sept. 29, 1957


In his Browns debut, Brown rushes for a game-high 89 yards, 31 coming on Cleveland’s game-winning drive, in a 6-3 win over the defending world champion New York Giants.

Nov. 24, 1957

Brown rushes for an NFL-record 237 yards and four touchdowns in Cleveland’s 45-31 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in a game that was played in front of the Browns’ largest home crowd in four years.

Dec. 29, 1957


Brown’s rookie season comes to a close with 69 yards and a touchdown in Cleveland’s 59-14 loss to Detroit in the 1957 NFL Championship. He finished the season with a league-best 942 yards and nine touchdowns and earned Rookie of the Year and MVP honors from the AP and Sporting News. He also made his first of nine Pro Bowls in his nine-year NFL career.

Dec. 14, 1958


Brown scores his 17th and final rushing touchdown of his second season on a 65-yard run against the New York Giants. Brown’s 17 rushing touchdowns — a figure he’d match in 1965 — were the most he’d compile in a single season during his nine-year career. His average of 127.3 rushing yards per game was the second-best of his career.

Nov. 1, 1959


Brown rushes for 178 yards and five touchdowns, overshadowing Johnny Unitas — who threw for 397 yards and four touchdowns — in a 38-31 victory over the defending champion Baltimore Colts. Brown finished with his third rushing title in as many seasons, running for 1,329 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Nov. 13, 1960


Brown regains the league lead in rushing with a season-high 173 yards and two touchdowns in Cleveland’s 28-27 win over the St. Louis Cardinals. Brown won his fourth straight rushing title — clearing 100 yards in the final four games of the season — with 1,257 yards and nine touchdowns.

Dec. 10, 1961

Brown takes a short pass from Milt Plum and dodges countless tackles on his way to a 77-yard touchdown, a play that is considered by many to be the best of his career. He won yet another rushing title this season with 1,408 yards and eight touchdowns.

Nov. 25, 1962


Brown rushes for 110 yards and two touchdowns and adds five receptions for 56 yards and a score in Cleveland’s 35-14 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though Brown did not win the league rushing title, he finished with the team lead in receptions (47) to go along with 996 rushing yards and a combined 18 touchdowns.

Sept. 15, 1963


Under new head coach Blanton Collier, Brown opens the 1963 season with an 83-yard touchdown reception and an 80-yard touchdown run in Cleveland’s 37-14 rout of the Washington Redskins. Brown finished the season with a career-best 1,863 rushing yards and won his third MVP honor.

Dec. 27, 1964


Brown rushes for a game-high 114 yards and catches three passes for 37 yards in Cleveland’s 27-0 win over the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship. The NFL title was the Browns’ fourth in franchise history and first since 1955.

Jan. 2, 1966


In what would be his final game with the Browns, Brown closes out his fourth MVP season by running for 50 yards on 12 carries in the Browns’ 23-12 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the 1965 NFL Championship. In 118 games, Brown rushed for 12,312 yards and 106 touchdowns and added 2,499 yards and 20 touchdowns as a receiver. His career average of 104.3 rushing yards per game stands today as an NFL record.

July 13, 1966


At the age of 30, Brown announces his retirement from football. He notified owner Art Modell of the decision with a letter and a long-distance phone call from London, where he was acting in the movie, “The Dirty Dozen.”

July 31, 1971


Brown is enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a class that includes Vince Lombardi and Y.A. Tittle.



Brown, along with 17 other former Browns, are named Cleveland Browns Legends in the inaugural year of the program’s existence.

May 29, 2013


Owner Jimmy Haslam brings Brown back to the Browns as a special advisor, a role he continues to hold today.

The Civic Leader

Brown’s passion to unite and uplift the black community and at-risk youths started during his NFL career and continues today.

Timeline Express



Brown founds the Negro Industrial and Economic Union, an organization that would later be known as the Black Economic Union. The goal of the organization was to help and guide black entrepreneurs.



On June 4, Brown and a who’s who list of African-American athletes at the time gather inside the Black Economic Union’s Cleveland offices to interview boxer Muhammad Ali and decide whether or not to support his stand against being inducted into the U.S. Military in the midst of the Vietnam War. Former Brown John Wooten, Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bobby Mitchell were among those in attendance. Ultimately, the group decided to support Ali.



Brown founds Amer-I-Can, an organization that helps gang members and other at-risk youths “meet their academic potential, conform their behavior to acceptable society standards, and improve the quality of their lives by equipping them with the critical life management skills to confidently and successfully contribute to society.”



Amer-I-Can initiates a truce between rival gangs in the Los Angeles area.



The Amer-I-Can Foundation for Social Change is incorporated as a non-profit organization with the goal of expanding its services to communities and individuals that would otherwise be unavailable because of financial hardship.



At the age of 75, Brown appears on MSNBC to promote and explain Amer-I-Can’s role in aiding black youths who grow up without a father figure.



In its 28th year, Amer-I-Can continues to “empower individuals to take charge of their lives and achieve their full potential.”

The Movie Star

Brown smoothly transitioned from the gridiron to the big screen and ultimately starred in a number of well-known films.

Timeline Express


Brown, in the midst of his eighth NFL season, makes his big-screen debut in the western “Rio Conchos.” Brown plays the role of Sgt. Ben Franklyn. “It’s a long ways from a football field to a movie studio, but it’s wonderful what can be accomplished with a talented team behind you,” Brown said in a promotional advertisement for the movie.



After Brown phoned Art Modell from the set in London to inform the Browns owner he’d be retiring, “The Dirty Dozen” is released to critical acclaim. The movie was the fifth-highest grossing movie of 1967, received four Academy Award nominations and was ranked No. 65 on the American Film Institute’s “100 Years … 100 Thrills” list.



Brown stars in three action movies over a three-year stretch: Ice Station Zebra, 100 Rifles and El Condor.



Brown stars in his first of a handful of African-American films, “Slaughter.” The movie’s tagline: “It’s not only his name, it’s his business and sometimes — his pleasure.” One year later, “Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off” is released.



Brown makes his first of a number of cameos on popular TV shows. He appeared three times on “CHIPs” and also saw time on Knight Rider, T.J. Hooker, Cover Up and The A-Team.



Brown plays Fireball, a villian in the movie “The Running Man,” which starred Arnold Schwarzenegger.



Brown is Slammer in “I’m Gonna Git You Sucka,” an action-comedy parody of the blaxploitation movies in which Brown starred just a decade earlier.


Brown serves as a color commentator on the first-ever Ultimate Fighting Championship pay-per-view event.



After a four-year hiatus from acting, Brown returns for two movies: Original Gangstas and Mars Attacks! The latter of which featured a loaded cast that included Jack Nicholson, Glenn Close, Pierce Brosnan, Annette Benning, Sarah Jessica Parker and Michael J. Fox.



Brown plays Montezuma Monroe, the defensive coordinator of the Miami Sharks, in “Any Given Sunday.”


Brown appears as himself in “Draft Day,” which was partially filmed in the Browns facility in Berea.


Watch a Jim Brown tribute video, relive his top five plays, and more.




Jim Brown's 5 Greatest Plays

Did you know?

Stats and facts from Jim Brown’s impressive career in football, acting, and activism.

Total Games
Career Touchdowns
Total Carries
Total Rushing Yards


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