The Cleveland Browns will honor Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown with a statue at FirstEnergy Stadium.
The Cleveland Browns used the occasion of Jim Brown’s 80th birthday to announce that they have commissioned a statue of the Hall of Fame running back.
The statue, which will be placed outside of the southeast corner of FirstEnergy Stadium, will be unveiled this fall during the annual Browns Alumni Weekend.
“Everyone admires the incredible impact that Jim Brown has made for Cleveland, the Browns and the NFL throughout his lifetime, and we have had the special opportunity to know and learn from his contributions to our team on a personal level, as well,” owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam said in a team news release. “It is only fitting that one of the most iconic professional football players and members of Cleveland and the Browns is commemorated with this statue as he will always be such a permanent fixture in our city.”
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The statue will be the second in recent months to honor Brown for his football accomplishments. Last fall, Syracuse University unveiled a bronze statue of Brown, along with Ernie Davis and Floyd Little, who all wore No. 44 at the school, outside the team’s practice facility.
“It humbles me to be honored in this manner,” Brown said of being honored by the Browns. “Dee and Jimmy Haslam, thank you for the respect and love. Your investment in Cleveland is unparalleled. To the fans of the Cleveland Browns, I guess I’ll always be with you – thank you.”
The Browns commissioned nationally recognized sculptor David L. Demming for the statue. Demming has worked with the Browns before, as he created 11 of the 15 cast bronze relief plaque portraits of the Browns Hall of Fame players that are on display at the stadium, as well as a bust of former owner Al Lerner that is housed at team headquarters.
Brown finished his career with 12,312 rushing yards and averaged 5.2 yards per carry, still one of the top marks in league history for a running back. Brown made nine consecutive trips to the Pro Bowl, was an eight-time First Team All-Pro selection, led the NFL in rushing eight times in his nine seasons, and is still the franchise leader in rushing yards, attempts and touchdowns.
Simply put, Brown was the greatest running back the NFL will ever see, as can be seen from his Pro Football Hall of Fame bio page:
"Brown was more than just a one-of-a-kind running back. He caught passes, returned kickoffs, and even threw three touchdown passes. His 12,312 rushing yards and 15,459 combined net yards put him in a then-class by himself. Jim was a unanimous first-team All-NFL pick eight times, 1957 through 1961, 1963-1965. He played in nine Pro Bowls in nine years and was the game’s outstanding back three times. He closed out his career with a three-touchdown outburst in the 1966 Pro Bowl."
"Brown was unanimously named the Rookie of the Year in 1957. He was recognized that season as the NFL’s Most Valuable Player by many media organizations. In all, he earned league MVP honors four times (1957, 1958, 1963, and 1965). At Syracuse University, Brown was All-America in both football and lacrosse and a letterman in basketball. Jim selected football as his career sport, however, and thus became the Cleveland Browns’ number 1 draft pick in 1957. Even though coach Paul Brown was traditionally reluctant to use rookies as regulars, Jim Brown was a regular and a star from day one."
The statue is long overdue and, according to the team, is the first of several “opportunities” that team officials are looking at to recognize major contributors with commissioned artwork at the stadium. With a statue to Jim Brown in the works, it shouldn’t take very long (or be very difficult) for the team to realize that former head coach Paul Brown should be next in line.