In memoria: Jim Brown 1936–2023

May 19, 2023

Born St. Simons Island, Georgia

It is little wonder that Cleveland Browns star fullback Jim Brown was sometimes likened to Superman. During his pro football career (1957–65), Brown’s strength, speed, and agility made him all but unstoppable as he powered his way over, around, or through his opponents’ defenses. As one lineman noted ruefully, the only way to tackle Brown was “to hold on and wait for help.” Brown’s versatility also made him a constant threat. Besides exceeding the 1,000-yards-rushing mark for seven out of nine seasons and ultimately scoring more than 100 rushing touchdowns, Brown caught passes, returned kickoffs, and even threw the ball for an occasional touchdown. Although his NFL game, season, and career rushing records have now been surpassed, experts continue to rank Brown as one of the greatest ball carriers of all time.

painting of an African American football player on the field and in uniform
Jim brown / Henry Koerner (1915–1991) / Oil on canvas, 1965 / Time cover, November 26, 1965 / National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of Time Magazine / © Henry Koerner