The 1957 season marked the beginning of an era for the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland drafted Brown out of Syracuse University with the sixth pick of the first round. From that moment, Jim Brown was the face of the franchise and took the league by storm for nine seasons.

Brown impacted the team immediately, running for a league leading 942 yards. The Georgia native earned Rookie of the Year honors as well as the NFL Most Valuable Player award. Jim Brown didn’t stop there, he just kept on running, and yes, that was a Forrest Gump reference. The fullback led the league in rushing yards a record eight times, despite only playing nine years. The only season without the rushing title came in 1962, when he racked up 996 yards.

However, Brown left the NFL abruptly after the ‘65 season to pursue an acting career. Despite retiring before the age of 29, Brown walked away on top as the record holder with 1,863 yards in a single season (1963), as well as, career numbers consisting of 12,312 yards and 106 rushing touchdowns. Jim Brown was actually the first player to accumulate 100 rushing touchdowns.

The nine-time Pro Bowler (every season played) was more than just a bruiser. Jim Brown registered 262 receptions for 20 scores and 2,499 yards. Brown added 628 yards as a kick returner and three passing touchdowns. The four-time MVP did it all and continues to be the only rusher to average more than 100 yards per game throughout his career. More importantly, Brown carried Cleveland to the 1964 Championship game. The three time Pro Bowl MVP finished with 117 yards in a 27-0 rout over Baltimore.

Jim Brown helped create a winning culture in Cleveland, something we have been currently missing. Brown was an extravagant combination of power, speed, and durability. He never missed a game due to injury. Brown joined a sub-.500 team when he was drafted to Cleveland. During his time here and even seasons after, Cleveland experienced much success.

Unfortunately for Cleveland, after Brown’s retirement, the Green Bay Packers won the first Super Bowl in history. The Cleveland Browns could have been Super Bowl Champions if Brown hadn’t hung up his jersey early. Regardless of the “what ifs,” Jim Brown is undisputedly the greatest professional football player ever.

-Max Gold

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