CLEVELAND (WJW) — Legendary Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown has died at 87.
He’s being remembered as one of the NFL’s most prolific players and remains the Cleveland Browns’ all-time rushing leader.
“Jim Brown is a true icon of not just the Cleveland Browns but the entire NFL. He was certainly the greatest to ever put on a Browns uniform and arguably one of the greatest players in NFL history,” Browns team owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in a statement.
“When Jim Brown’s name was announced in a room, other Hall of Famers stood and applauded him,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter. “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.”
Brown played from 1957 to 1965.
He had 12,312 rushing yards and 106 touchdowns across his nine-year career.
He led the league in rushing eight times and was voted MVP three times.
“We are heartbroken by the passing of the legendary Jim Brown. One of the greatest players in NFL history, a true pioneer and activist. Jim Brown’s legacy will live on forever,” the NFL said in a statement.
Legendary Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar said Brown meant so much to ex-players and fans.
“His wisdom on and off the field, in the locker room and in downtown Cleveland,” Kosar said. “He’s made such a core difference in communities around the country, not just here in Cleveland.”
LeBron James posted a series of photos and videos to remember his friend. Part of his caption on Instagram said: “We lost a hero today. Rest in paradise to the legend Jim Brown. 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.”
Brown was an NFL Champion with the Browns in 1964 and helped lead them to the NFL Championship game in 1957, 1964 and 1965.
He was also voted to the Pro Bowl every year of his career.
Brown was considered the greatest running back in the history of the sport at the time of his retirement and remains one of the greatest rushers to ever play in the NFL. He sits 11th all-time in rushing yards and sixth all-time in rushing touchdowns.
Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
In 1965, one year after his pro football retirement, Brown founded the Negro Industrial and Economic Union, an organization that would later be known as the Black Economic Union.
On June 4, 1967, Brown participated in the Cleveland Summit, one of the most important moments in sports and civil rights history. He and several other prominent Black athletes gathered inside the Black Economic Union’s offices in Cleveland to interview boxer Muhammad Ali and decide whether to support his stand against being drafted into the U.S. military during the Vietnam War. John Wooten, a former Browns player, and Bill Russell, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bobby Mitchell were also in attendance.
“His commitment to making a positive impact for all of humanity off the field is what he should also be known for,” Jimmy and Dee Haslam 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.”
In 1988, Brown also founded Amer-I-Can, an organization that helps gang members and at-risk youths.
“Jim Brown is the Cleveland Browns,” Jimmy and Dee Haslam said. “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.”
“Fran and I are saddened to learn of the death of legendary NFL running back Jim Brown,” Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said in a statement. “As a young boy, I would watch Jim play for the Cleveland Browns on TV every Sunday, and few could keep him out of the end zone.”
Browns’ acting career spanned over five decades. His final role was as himself in “Draft Day,” which was filmed at the Browns’ headquarters in Berea, in 2014. Brown starred in over 50 movies and television shows.
Since 2008, Brown had worked with the Browns as an executive adviser and special adviser for the Browns. A statue of him was erected outside Cleveland Browns Stadium in 2016.
In February, the NFL announced it had renamed the league rushing title as “The Jim Brown Award.”