Jim Brown, Football Great and Civil Rights Champion, Dies at 87

After the 1962 season, Brown led a group of players who complained to Modell, the team owner, that Paul Brown, the franchise’s founder and head coach, was too rigid in continuing with conservative offensive schemes that were being bypassed by other N.F.L. teams using wide-open offenses.

Blanton Collier was named coach in 1963, and Brown had his greatest season, running for an N.F.L. record 1,863 yards. The Browns defeated the Baltimore Colts for the N.F.L. championship in 1964. Brown won his third M.V.P. award in 1965, when the Browns again played for the league championship, this time losing to the Green Bay Packers.

Brown led the N.F.L. in rushing in eight of his nine seasons. He also set N.F.L. records for career yardage (12,312), total touchdowns (126), touchdowns by running (106), and average yards rushing per game (104) and per carry (5.22). He ran for more than 1,000 yards seven times when teams played only 12 and then 14 games a season (they now play 17), and at a time when the rule book favored the passing game over running plays. He caught 20 touchdown passes, and he returned kickoffs.

Brown credited his offensive linemen with springing him into the secondary, and then, as he told Alex Haley in a 1968 interview with Playboy, “I was on my own.”

“Then I had a man-to-man situation going me against them; that’s when I’d go into my bag of stuff,” he said. “They’re in trouble now; I’m in their territory; 55 things are happening at once; I’m moving, evaluating their possible moves, trying to outthink and outmaneuver them, using my speed, quickness and balance.”

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