NFL icon Jim Brown, who retired prematurely from football to pursue a career in acting, has passed away at the age of 87. Monique Brown, his wife, confirmed the news revealing that he passed away peacefully at home on Thursday evening. “To the world, he was a football hero, an actor and an activist,” she wrote. “To us, he was a devoted spouse, father and grandfather. We are devastated by his loss.”
Brown was a multisport athlete at Syracuse University before being selected in the sixth overall draft pick by the Cleveland Browns in 1957. He became one of the most ferocious running backs of all time, breaking numerous records and winning three NFL MVP awards. He helped to guide the Browns to a victory at the NFL championship in 1964.
In 1965, Brown sent shockwaves around the world by announcing his retirement from football to excel in the acting profession. He went on to appear in over thirty movies, including the 1972 release 100 Rifles, which had a huge impact on the Oscar-winning director Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino said, “Seeing a Jim Brown movie on a Saturday night in 1972, whether you’re a filmmaker or just someone who loves movies, that’s the reason you’re doing it.”
Aside from his successful acting career, Brown also worked as a sports commentator and was hired to provide colour commentary for the first-ever UFC card alongside Bill Wallace and Kathy Long in 1993. He went on to call the next five UFC events. When UFC co-owner Campbell McLaren was asked about Brown’s recruitment, he said, “We thought it would be great.”
Later in life, Brown took on further acting work in films such as Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday. He also became a passionate social activist, fighting tirelessly for racial equality, working to reduce levels of gang violence and supporting at-risk youths.