Jim Brown ’57
Arents Award Recipient for Excellence in Athletics and Social Activism
Jim Brown ’57 wore No. 44 for the Orange football team for three seasons (1954-56) and is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes in history.
He was a four-sport star at Syracuse University (football, lacrosse, basketball, and track) and a 1956 All-American in football. In 1982, Brown was presented with the NCAA Silver Anniversary Award.
During his nine-year NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, Brown led the league in rushing eight times and was a nine-time Pro Bowl selection. In 2002, he was named the “Greatest NFL Player” by Sporting News and is on the All-Time NFL Team, 1960s All-Decade Team, the NFL’s 50th Anniversary Team, and the NFL’s 75th Anniversary Team.
Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1983, and the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995. His No. 32 uniform was retired by the Cleveland Browns.
At age 30, at the peak of his playing career, Brown retired from professional football to concentrate on acting. He has more than 40 film credits to his name, including The Dirty Dozen and Any Given Sunday. In 2002, Spike Lee released the film Jim Brown: All-American, documenting Brown’s life.
In June 2016, Brown was inducted into the inaugural class of the U.S. Army ROTC National Hall of Fame. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant through Army ROTC following his graduation from Syracuse University, then continued his military training commitment while playing in the NFL. Eventually, he was honorably discharged from the Army Reserve with the rank of captain.
As a social activist, Brown supported African American causes by helping to create the Negro Industrial Economic Union in the 1960s and, in the 1980s, founding the Amer-I-Can program, which strives to turn around the lives of young gang members. His vision is to help young people turn a feeling of “I can’t” to “I can” by showing them that they are responsible for determining the direction of their lives.
Brown earned a bachelor’s degree in physical education from Syracuse University.