R.I.P.: Jim Brown, NFL player-turned-actor, has passed away at 87

Jim Brown, the legendary Cleveland Browns NFL player turned prolific actor, has passed away at the age of 87

Some sad news has come in to end the week, as it has been announced that legendary NFL player-turned-actor Jim Brown has passed at the age of 87. His passing was announced by his wife on Instagram, with no cause of death being provided.

Born on February 17, 1936, in St. Simons Islang, Georgia, Brown is considered to be one of the greatest football players of all time. He was drafted out of Syracuse University by the Cleveland Browns in 1957, and spent all nine years of his NFL career with the team. Deadline notes that “his bruising running style redefined the running back position”. He was the first NFL player to make over 100 career rushing touchdowns and set single season and career rushing records. He was a three time MVP, Rookie of the Year, eight time All-Pro, and eight time rushing leader. With him on the team, the Browns won the NFL championship in 1964 – in the days before there was a Super Bowl.

Brown was still in the Cleveland Browns when he took his first acting job, appearing in the 1964 Western Rio Conchos. As the decades went on, he racked up nearly 60 screen acting credits, including an episode of I Spy and the films Dark of the Sun, Ice Station Zebra, The Split, Riot, 100 Rifles (co-starring Raquel Welch), Tick Tick Tick, El Condor, The Slams, I Escaped from Devil’s Island, Three the Hard Way, Take a Hard Ride, Fingers, Pacific Inferno, I’m Gonna Git You Sucka, L.A. Heat, Crack House, Twisted Justice, Killing American Style, Original Gangstas, Any Given Sunday, He Got Game, She Hate Me, and One Down, Two to Go. He played the title roles in the films Kenner, Black Gunn, Slaughter, and Slaughter’s Big Rip-Off. His final acting role came in the 2014 film Draft Day.

One of his earliest roles was in one of his most popular movies, as he starred in the 1967 World War II “men on a mission” classic The Dirty Dozen. The 1987 Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle The Running Man may not be a classic on that level, but a lot of movie fans of my generation will remember Brown’s appearance as Fireball in that film. He also earned some younger fans by playing retired boxing champ Byron Williams in Tim Burton’s Mars Attacks!

In 2002, Spike Lee – who directed Brown in a couple films – made the documentary Jim Brown: All-American about his NFL days, his acting career, and his social activism. Brown was also depicted as a character in Regina King’s 2020 film One Night in Miami, where he was played by Aldis Hodge. He told his own story with the autobiography Out of Bounds, which was published in 1989.

Brown is survived by his wife Monique and his six children. Our heartfelt condolences go out to his family, friends, and fans.

Source: Instagram, Deadline

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Cody is a news editor and film critic, focused on the horror arm of JoBlo.com, and writes scripts for videos that are released through the JoBlo Originals and JoBlo Horror Originals YouTube channels. In his spare time, he's a globe-trotting digital nomad, runs a personal blog called Life Between Frames, and writes novels and screenplays.