Hall of Famer Jim Brown Passes Away
IRVING, Texas (May 19, 2023) – Jim Brown, the 1995 College Football Hall of Fame inductee who starred for Syracuse at halfback from 1954-1956, passed away May 18. He was 87.

IRVING, Texas (May 19, 2023) – Jim Brown, the 1995 College Football Hall of Fame inductee who starred for Syracuse at halfback from 1954-1956, passed away May 18. He was 87.
“We are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Jim Brown, one the game’s true legends,” said NFF Chairman Archie Manning. “Jim Brown was a thrill to watch. He simply set the standard by which all others were measured, and he used his position on the field as a platform to help address civil rights injustices in our country throughout his life. His contributions will not be forgotten, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time of loss.”
“We all know that Jim Brown was the greatest running back and the best of all time, but the thing that resonates in my mind is how good of a person he was,” said John Wooten, a 2012 College Football Hall of Fame inductee from Colorado who blocked for Brown in the NFL on the offensive line with Cleveland. “He said to me: ‘We are not going to be involved in sit-ins and demonstrations or marches. We not going to sit on the sidelines and not participate in this fight for human dignity and civil rights… He said the thing we can do is we can work in our own communities, making things better for young people and people who don’t have the monies to do things with.’”
Jim Brown put up some sensational numbers for Syracuse, earning the nickname “First Down Brown” along the way. He scored a then-NCAA record 43 points, including rushing for six touchdowns and 197 yards against Colgate in 1956. He had other games with rushing totals of 162, 155, 154 and 151 yards, and he made runs of 78, 66, 53, 41 and 37 yards. His season rushing total in 1956 was 986, a Syracuse record which landed him third in the nation, and he averaged 123.3 yards per game that season. During his three seasons with the Orange, he amassed 23 touchdowns and 2,091 yards on the ground, averaging 5.79 yards per carry, in 24 games. He also led the Orange in kickoff returns in 1955 and 1956, amassing 611 return yards during his three seasons. He was also a place kicker, which added to his scoring.
A unanimous First Team All-American in 1956, he finished fifth in the Heisman Trophy voting, and he concluded his college career in the 1957 Cotton Bowl, rushing for 132 yards and three touchdowns against TCU. In 2005, Syracuse University retired No. 44, which he wore along with fellow College Football Hall of Fame inductees Ernie Davis and Floyd Little and several others. Twelve-foot Bronze statues of the three Hall of Famers create a lasting tribute to their accomplishments on Plaza 44 outside the Orange’s current practice facility
Brown’s achievements went beyond football at Syracuse, earning 10 letters in four sports. He was on the basketball team two years and averaged 14 points a game in one season. A member of the track team, he placed fifth in the decathlon at the national AAU track meet in 1954. And he was most notably considered the nation’s best lacrosse player, an All-America star in the sport and, in 1957, co-winner of the national scoring championship.
He once competed in two sports the same day. On a warm May day in 1957, he wore his track suit, won the high jump and javelin, placed second in the discus, and helped Syracuse beat Colgate in a dual meet. Then he put on his Lacrosse uniform and led the way to an 8-6 win over Army, winding up an undefeated season for the lacrosse team. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree and was named the class marshal, leading the class in a parade to the stage for the commencement program.
The Cleveland Browns drafted him in the first round, sixth overall of the 1957 NFL Draft. He was named the NFL Rookie of the Year in 1957 and the NFL Player of the Year four times. A nine-time All-Pro and Pro Bowl selection, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. He is the only person enshrined in the College Football, Pro Football and National Lacrosse halls of fame.
After his NFL career, he became a movie actor and sports broadcaster. He involved himself in charity work and in 1972 organized Food First, a program that sent food to Marshall County, Mississippi, the nation’s poorest county.
The NCAA gave Brown one of its Silver Anniversary Awards in 1982. The award is based on an athlete’s performance for the 25- year period after graduation. In 1988, Brown founded the Amer-I-Can Program, which focuses on working with at-risk and high-risk youth in underserved schools and juvenile detention facilities. He said of this work, “This is life. That’s tougher than any football game.”
An Army ROTC trainee at Syracuse, Brown was commissioned as a second lieutenant following his graduation and continued his military service in the Army Reserves while playing in the NFL. Brown continued to serve for four more years and was honorably discharged from the Army Reserve with the rank of captain.
He was named to Syracuse University’s All-Century Football Team, and during the 2020 CFP National Championship Game, he was crowned the No. 1 player of college football’s first 150 years by ESPN.
Born Feb. 17, 1936, on St. Simons Island, Georgia, Brown is survived by his wife, Monique, their children, Aris and Morgan, and his daughter, Kim, and his sons, Kevin and James Jr.