He intimidated people on and off the football field. He was brutal yet brilliant, narcissistic yet magnanimous, relentless yet unyielding. Most of all, he was the greatest football player of all time. He was Jim Brown.
Jim Brown was an astonishing physical specimen with tremendous skills and intelligence. An athlete who played a number of sports at Syracuse University, he ultimately discovered that it was the violence of football that appealed to him most. The idea of physically dominating other men, surviving ferocious battles on the field against opponents who would just as soon call him a nigger as try to gouge out his eyes fueled an astonishing, record-making NFL career that led to the Hall of Fame. He battled his defenses, sometimes his teammates, and often the Cleveland Browns' legendary head coach Paul Brown.
But Jim Brown had ambitions greater than football. He used his athletic brilliance to launch a movie career, becoming Hollywood's first black action hero, culminating in a scandalous love scene with America's sweetheart Raquel Welch. He leveraged his popularity into helping the NFL's black players and becoming a civil rights activist. Never shy about expressing his opinions, Brown would become the subject of FBI investigations and surveillance throughout parts of his life.
Then there were the women. The patient wife who was essentially a single mother and who endured public humiliation. The girlfriends he ran through and the scandalous accusations of violence made by some of them.
A complex and fascinating story, Jim Brown is a towering biography of a living legend.
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Mike Freeman is an NFL Insider for CBSSports.com. Before that, he was an NFL writer, investigative reporter, and columnist for the New York Times; a columnist for the Florida Times-Union; and a sports reporter, features writer, and investigative writer for the Washington Post, Boston Globe, and Dallas Morning News. He lives in New Jersey.From Publishers Weekly:
In the context of today's world of sports-commercialization, bloated salaries and superstar athlete egos-the newest from sports writer and author Freeman (Bloody Sundays) is not just a definitive biography of pioneering African-American athlete Jim Brown, arguably the best football player ever, but a fascinating look at a culture in transition. Broken down by decade, each section of the book covers a distinct phase in Brown's life and career, based on old coverage as well as new interviews with family, friends and enemies. In an engaging, honest and powerful narrative, Freeman covers all aspects of the American hero, including his amazing athletic feats-besides football, he was also a top-notch lacrosse player-as well as his work with the Civil Rights movement, his explosive anger and his run-ins with the law. Beginning in the fifties, Freeman convincingly recreates the dirty game of the time, in which shoves and blinding jabs to the eyes were commonplace-especially for Brown, as Freeman uncovers in candid interviews with players and coaches who admit to pointed attacks on the running back. Though he forgives the American hero a little too easily for his history of domestic abuse, Freeman captures the life of a legend with grace and passion, while brilliantly exposing the hypocrisy and cruelty suffered by the black athletes of yesterday.
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