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Icon of the Week: Jim Brown

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    National Football League (NFL) Rookie of the Year,  Jim Thorpe trophy winner, Hickok Belt Athlete of the Year in 1964, and two time NFL Player of the Year. All of these titles and more were acquired by one man, Cleveland Browns running back Jim Brown.

      In his freshman year at Manhasset High School, Brown showed exceptional skill and caught the attention of local coaches. A natural athlete, Brown was very talented especially at football. Brown was so dominant that by the time he graduated he had received offers from forty-five college and universities. Brown chose to head to New York’s Syracuse University.  Everyone expected to be the shining star of the football team right away, but that was not the case. During the 1950’s, racism was a problem and this reflected in the roster and position of Syracuse players. Despite the fact that Jim was better than most of the other players who tried out, he was repeatedly passed over for lighter-skinned colored players, and only got his chance to shine when a teammate was injured. When he did play, he made a mockery of his opponents’ skills so much that the crowd would chant his name (Contemporary Black Biography).

     In 1957, Brown was the first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Browns. As soon as Brown was drafted he became the Browns’ starting fullback. By his fifth game, Brown had already surpassed the team’s record of most touchdowns in a season with nine. Brown helped to lead the Cleveland Browns to the Eastern Division Championship of 1967. Brown was unanimously voted Rookie of the Year. Very few people could match Brown when it came to skill, and he was voted to the All-Pro team from 1958 to 1965. Brown then dominated football for a few more years before he became a part of the movie industry. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. The rest, as they say, is history.

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