By Ron Wynn
NASHVILLE, TN — Jim Brown was one of America’s greatest athletes and later an ardent advocate for Black economic empowerment.
Brown, who died last Thursday at 87, also had a complicated legacy, one that had many moments of glory but also periods of controversy and turmoil.
As an athlete, he was one of the greatest in the 20th century. He was an All-American at Syracuse in both football and lacrosse, while also playing basketball and baseball, even occasionally running relays in track meets. He was eventually inducted into both the college and pro football Halls of Fame, as well as the lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Over a nine-year NFL career he set rushing and performance records that stood for decades and is still regarded as the sports finest running back.
He retired early at age 30 in defiance, refusing to turn down a film opportunity to report for training camp.
Brown would go on to have a lengthy film and televsion career. But he also made his mark as an activist. From attempts at starting a Black athletes union to forming a national organization to create economic opportunities in inner city neighborhoods.
Every account of Brown’s life has included detailed revelations of his various problems with women, as well as his public support of Donald Trump.
But seen in total, there were more positive accomplishments and milestones in Jim Brown’s life than negative ones, and those will always be remembered.