When discussing the greatest professional football player of all time, there are a lot of directions in which one could go. You could begin by looking at the player who may have been on the winningest team of all time. You can look at the player who has compiled the gaudiest statistics.
Or you can, perhaps, try to look at the player who you believe was the best pure athlete to ever play the game. One who was able to take that superb raw athleticism and apply it to the NFL in a way which made him not good, not great, but legendary. That player, is Jim Brown.
Jim Brown only ended up playing 9 seasons in the NFL, all for the Cleveland Browns, but his impact is still felt and his aura is still lauded today, 42 full years following his retirement. Over the course of his 9 seasons, he amassed a then NFL record 12,312 rushing yards (at the time of his retirement he also held the single season rushing record of 1,863 yards). He also held the records in rushing touchdowns, total touchdowns, and all-purpose yards (the category that, in my opinion, most often reflects the overall value and versatility of a player on the football field).
Brown, to this day, still holds the Cleveland Browns single season rushing yardage record with that 1,863 yard mark, and none of the other 31 NFL franchises currently have a longer tenured record holder. He also won 3 league MVP awards during that span. The fact is, Brown at the time that he played was far and away the most dominant running back in the game, and was also far and away the best player in the NFL.
What made Jim Brown the player that he was, is that unlike most other players in the National Football League, he was not only a great football player. He was also a tremendous athlete. He was blessed with all of the physical tools that one could ever want, and was also gifted with the mental ability to be able to effectively and without fail pick up and adapt to new athletic challenges, and excel at them in fact.
So much so, in fact, that upon graduating from high school in Long Island, Brown received 42 scholarship offers, eventually choosing to attend Syracuse University.
While studying at Syracuse, Brown earned All-American honors not only in football, but also in lacrosse, and Brown is also regarded by many to be one of the best lacrosse players in the history of collegiate lacrosse.
Jim Brown's Bust in the NFL Hall of Fame. Thanks to kbilancini at flickr.com for the picture.
One reason why Brown's true greatness is sometimes overlooked these days when looking at all-time great NFL players is, in fact, due to the relatively short length of his career. Nine seasons, while a substantial NFL career, it is not considered lengthy, and a number of modern day running backs who were perhaps slightly behind Brown in overall talent, have managed to play more years and therefore have compiled statistics that pass Brown's.
However, it should not be forgotten that Brown, in retiring in 1966, retired in his prime, and left at least 3 very strong years on the table, much like more recent retiree Barry Sanders. So, his name will undoubtedly continue to tumble down the overall all-time list of NFL running backs, as well as the list of all-time NFL players overall in the minds of many. However, one should never forget the dominance that Brown demonstrated during his too brief career.
You will note this article was specific to the greatest pro football player ever. Here's another site that says Jim Brown was the best football player of all time. You may know that we think Herschel Walker was the best college football player ever. And, here's something you may enjoy reading: Peyton Manning is Best All Time Football Player. Check out the others:
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Jim Brown nah Walter Payton is the BEST ever
You can't just say Jim Brown. The competition wasn't as good back then as it was from the 70's on till today. The league back then was almost all white …
Walter Payton Best Football Player Ever
Walter Payton, no question. Anyone who had the luck to watch him play his heart out every single play, whether or not he touched the ball (unlike Jim Brown …
2011 NFL Fantasy Football Picks Not rated yet
Probably none of our fantasy football picks will ever be considered the best pro football player of all time …
joe montana was the best by far Not rated yet
It has to montana by far over the others. He won 4 nfc title games and won 4 superbowl rings with 49ers. joe has a record 3 superbowl mvp awards and do …
Darrell Green Not rated yet
Don't forget darrell green. playd 20 seasons, fastest man in the nfl, 3 super bowls, and wasn't afraid to hit!
Walter Payton was the best football player EVER Not rated yet
Unlike most backs today Payton was able to block catch pass run and stop an oncoming hit. He is by far the greatest football player ever. He would play …
Dick Butkus Best Football Player Ever Not rated yet
As much as I love Jim Brown, he is the best offensive player ever, in my opinion, Dick Butkus is the best football player ever. The real argument begins …
BEST NFL PLAYER OF ALL TIME Not rated yet
YES JIM BROWN DOMINATED, NO DOUBT IN THAT, BUT THE PLAYER WITH THE MOST HEART, THAT DESPITE HIS MEAGER SIZE CONSISTENTLY "FOUND A WAY" TO PRODUCE ABOVE …
Old School Football Not rated yet
Yes Brown is certainly a force that was to his era unseen..but also add the likes of Unitas, Marino, Butkis, Simpson, Rice, Montana, Starr, Tarkenton, …