NFL legend Jim Brown died this week at the age of 87, his wife Monique confirmed in an Instagram post. Monique shared the grim news on Friday (May 19) but didn’t give a cause of death. Her statement read, “It is with profound sadness that I announce the passing of my husband, Jim Brown. He passed peacefully last night at our LA home. To the world he was an activist, actor, and football star. To our family, he was a loving and wonderful husband, father, and grandfather. Our hears are broken.”
A gifted athlete, Jim Brown was taken in the first round of the 1957 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns, the sixth overall selection. During the ninth game of his rookie season, he rushed for 237 yards, setting an NFL single-game record that stood unsurpassed for 14 years and a rookie record that remained for 40 years. Cleveland won the NFL championship in 1964 and were runners-up in 1957 and 1965, his rookie and final season, respectively. In the 1964 championship game, Brown rushed 27 times for 114 yards and caught three passes for 37.
But Brown was a multi-faceted talent. Before the 1964 season, he began his acting career, starring in the Western action film, Rio Conchos. He later starred in several blaxploitation films, including Slaughter (1972), Black Gunn (1972), Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off (1973), The Slams (1973), I Escaped from Devil’s Island (1973) and Three the Hard Way (1974).
In 1988, Jim Brown appeared in I’m Gonna G## You Sucka, a blaxploitation parody film written, directed by and starring Keenen Ivory Wayans in his directorial debut. The movie became a cult classic. Other acting credits include The Dirty Dozen, The Running Man, Any Given Sunday, Mars Attacks! and Sucka Free City.
Jim Brown was also an activist. In June 1967, he held the Cleveland Summit in support of Muhammad Ali, who refused to serve in the Vietnam War. He was joined by Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar at the time. More recently, he was attempting to secure a pardon for Jimmy Henchmen.
In December 2020, Donald J. Trump commuted Henchmen’s sentence to the time he had already served. Trump telephoned Brown and his wife Monique Brown, who’d been supporting Henchman’s years-long efforts to obtain clemency, and assured them he’d be released but failed to deliver.