Considered one of the greatest players of All-Time, Jim Brown comes in at number 32 on our list. Besides playing football, he had a notable career as an actor and has given back to the community. Brown was a member of the Cleveland Browns from 1957 – 1965 and until this very day Brown is still a member of the Cleveland Browns family.
Brown played his college career at Syracuse University. He was the first in a line of great Syracuse running backs, followed by Ernie Davis and Floyd Little. Besides playing football, Brown was also a member of the basketball, track and lacrosse teams. As a member of the lacrosse team in his senior year, he scored 43 goals which garnered him First-Team All-American honors and he eventually got into the Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
In the 1957 Draft, the Browns drafted Brown with the 6th overall pick. Interestingly, that draft was full of Hall of Famers including Paul Hornung, Len Dawson, Don Maynard and fellow Browns player Gene Hickerson. In his rookie season, Brown had 942 rushing yards and nine touchdowns, making it to the first of his nine consecutive Pro Bowls and he was named NFL Rookie of the Year.
Over the course of his nine-year career, Brown led the league in rushing eight times and was tops in touchdowns five times. In 1964 he won his only Championship for the Browns. His career 12,312 rushing yards was a record when he retired. He was a three-time MVP, a member of the NFL 1960s All-Decade Team and on the 75th Anniversary All-Time Team. The Browns retired his number and in 1971, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. At points after his playing career was over, he could be found on the sidelines during games and he is currently a Special Advisor to the team.
Besides playing football, Jim Brown showed an interest in other activities. He starred in over 30 films including, The Dirty Dozen, Any Given Sunday and an appearance as himself in Draft Day. Brown has also tried to help youth who have been caught up in gang-related activities through a program he founded named the Amer-I-Can Program. In 2012, his love for lacrosse helped him decide to become a part-owner of a Major League Lacrosse team.
An interesting final note, thanks to Jim Brown many people became fans of the Cleveland Browns. As the Browns were a good team, they were often featured on television and everybody who watched football would watch them. In cities that didn’t have football teams, many of the people watching would become enamored by Brown’s playing style and started to root for him and the Cleveland Browns.