Syracuse legend Jim Brown: the greatest football player of all
New York, NY — Rewind Father Time's hands, and the clock read: Super Bowl time. There I sat on the edge of Kira's sofa — cheering on Cam Newton.
"You know..." I blurted, "when Newton runs down the sideline, he kinda reminds of your grandfather."
Jim Brown's granddaughter, Brooke, flashed a tight-lipped smile.
By this point, I suspected her ears had grown comfortably numb to hearing such praise ... aimed at her mother's father. After all, when it comes to playing football, pardon, American football, James Nathaniel Brown was, is and will always be the GOAT.
Over the past few years, it's become trendy for my fellow Millennials to post hashtags or tweet "Tom Brady is the GOAT."
I sigh whenever my eyes glimpse such short-sightedness...
...I smirk whenever my ears overhear such prisoners-of-the-moment.
But I get it. I really do. After all, Jim Brown played football before any Millennial was born. Brady, on the other hand, hoisted shiny Lombardi trophies for our posting-on-Instagram pleasures. It's only natural, then, for us to judge greatness via our limited lenses...
Perhaps the same can be said of the trendy Jordan vs. LeBron debate. And as fate would have it: Brown and Jordan were born on the same day.
Why Brown is in a Class of His Own
Tom Brady finished his stellar career with 89,214 passing yards.
Jim Brown retired with 12,312 rushing yards.
The chief difference?
Ever single passing yard recorded and attributed to Brady was also given to a wide receiver, who caught the pass. Had Moss or Welker or any of the iconic Patriot's receivers dropped Brady's pass, the result would've been an incompletion.
Brown, on the other hand, never had a "Robin" to star opposite of his Batman.
You see, the unknowns who played quarterback for the Browns merely handed Brown the ball and "got out the way," as Browns' play-by-play announcer Gib Shanley loved to say.
Quite simply, Brown is the only player in NFL history to have all but singled-handedly carried a mediocre team to a championship. In a team sport. Here's the big difference between both GOATs.
"For this generation, Tom Brady is the GOAT. Greatest Of All Time quarterback," Steve Serby of the NY Post writes. "[But] Jim Brown, who passed away on Thursday at 87, is the GOAT of all GOATS. Greatest Of All Time football player."
Serby ends the piece by noting there was nobody like "Superman."
There Was Nobody Like Supeman
At Syracuse University, Brown was All-America in both football and lacrosse.
As the number one pick in the NFL draft, Brown went on to play nine seasons. Only once did he fail to rush for more yards than everyone else in the league.
50 years later, Brown still holds the record for being the only non-quarterback to retire with more touchdowns than games played...
...Quite simply, Brown dominated the sport like no other! And with his usual nonchalant, who-gives-a-...., attitude, Brown retired from the NFL in his prime. Yes, he walked away from guaranteed fame and fortune at barely 30 years old.
In Brown's eyes, he'd already conquered the gridiron and now set his sights on Hollywood — eventually starring in a groundbreaking movie with Raquel Welch.
In short, when LeBron took a special moment to pause and bow before Brown, seated courtside, King James was in effect saying:
Every head must bow ... every tongue must confess — Jim Brown was, is and will always be the greatest football player of all time.