'Heroic, But He's No Hero': Revisiting Football Great Jim Brown

Jim Brown, a star using behind for a Cleveland Browns in a late 1950s and early 1960s, is a theme of a new autobiography by The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Jim Brown, a star using behind for a Cleveland Browns in a late 1950s and early 1960s, is a theme of a new autobiography by The Nation sports editor Dave Zirin.

Hulton Archive/Getty Images


Jim Brown

Jim Brown

Last Man Standing

by Dave Zirin

Hardcover, 320 pages |

squeeze

Many cruise a using behind Jim Brown the biggest American football actor ever. But he’s famous as most some-more than an contestant — he’s an activist, an actor, a thinker and a male with an purported story of assault opposite women.

Here’s how he’s described in a opening divide of Dave Zirin’s new biography, Jim Brown: Last Man Standing.

Football is a closest thing we have in this nation to a inhabitant religion, despite a sacrament built on a substructure of crippled apostles and disposable martyrs. In this heartless church, Jim Brown is a closest thing to a soldier Saint.

Zirin, sports match for The Nation, spoke to NPR about this difficult figure, who is now 82 years old.

“I consider it’s critical that when we demeanour during these icons of a past, that we demeanour during them not as these kinds of immortals,” Zirin says. “Because if we do that, when we deify people, a problem with that is afterwards there’s zero to learn from them or their lives. It’s a story of somebody who is unequivocally flawed, though somebody who also did drastic things. As Howard Bryant, a good sportswriter, said, he said: Jim Brown is heroic, though he’s no hero. And we consider that’s a best approach to demeanour during his life.”

Interview Highlights

On since he chose Jim Brown as a subject, and since now

There’s a contention function right now — not only in a universe of sports, though we consider nationally — about masculinity, and about what it means to be a man, what it means to be a genuine man. And we consider we are assessing some of what we’ve been taught. And we consider Jim Brown, for a final 50 years, has been this kind of idol of a aged approach of looking during manhood: somebody who tangible his strength by not display a good understanding of emotion; by personification in a National Football League and never blank a diversion for injury, and being lauded for that; as being somebody who stepped inside a black energy transformation and was an icon; as someone who stepped into Hollywood, and was suspicion that he could be a black John Wayne and participated in a blaxploitation era, that was a unequivocally hyper-masculinized form of cinema during a time; and as somebody who stepped to a turf of a squad battles in Los Angeles in a 1980s, and did a extensive volume of activism to try to move warring gangs together and move assent to a streets of South Central Los Angeles. And all of these landscapes he did with this unaffected concentration on training people of what it means to be a “real man.” And one of a things we try to disagree in a book, and this connects with a discussions that are function right now about masculinity, is either or not that contention of strength is certain or negative. And so we also demeanour in a book about Jim Brown’s story with women, that is a dim side, if we will, of this contention about masculinity — quite a emanate of assault opposite women.

On where Jim Brown grew up, and how it shabby his sold form of activism

Well, it’s a fascinating story, since Jim Brown was lifted by women on St. Simons Island, that is off a seashore of Georgia. And St. Simons was a place that was built on confidence since a belligerent was so severe that when deferential people were brought from Africa, their communities were mostly left alone. And this, we think, done a symbol on Jim Brown via his younger years, of this thought of not being an integrationist, not being someone who upheld a goals of Dr. Martin Luther King [Jr.], of being someone who some-more was on a side of: How do we, as black Americans, build a possess institutions of energy and self-sufficiency? …

Retired NFL greats Jim Brown (left) and Ray Lewis residence a media after assembly with then-President-elect Donald Trump during Trump Tower in New York in late 2016.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images


hide caption

toggle caption

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Retired NFL greats Jim Brown (left) and Ray Lewis residence a media after assembly with then-President-elect Donald Trump during Trump Tower in New York in late 2016.

Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

And this is something we consider we forget historically, is that there was a black leisure onslaught in this country, though there was a left wing and right wing to that leisure struggle. It’s not like everybody believed in marching, or everybody believed in a Montgomery train boycott, sit-ins. There was a far-reaching accumulation of meditative about how black ransom could be achieved. And Jim Brown was, we could argue, on a regressive wing of that camp. And we consider it connects to since Jim Brown currently is a believer of Donald Trump … and since he upheld Richard Nixon in 1968, as did other total of that epoch like a thespian James Brown and Sammy Davis Jr. Like, there was black support for Richard Nixon in 1968, and it was built around this thought of mercantile self-sufficiency.

On Jim Brown’s position about Colin Kaepernick and complicated sports protests

It’s fascinating to me, since Jim Brown pronounced only a other week, on a NFL Network, that if he was a ubiquitous manager of a team, he would not pointer Colin Kaepernick. Last year he walked into a locker room of a Cleveland Browns — a group that of march done Jim Brown famous — and he told players who had been kneeling that they indispensable to cut it out. And so Jim Brown is unequivocally behaving as an representative of [NFL] tenure in these cases. …

See, this is what I’m perplexing to disagree with this book, since a lot of people in a sports universe were repelled when he pronounced these things, saying: How could Jim Brown, this idol of a black leisure struggle, how could he presumably bury Colin Kaepernick in this way? How can he presumably go into a locker room and tell players to mount adult and close adult during a inhabitant anthem? And partial of what I’m arguing is that: No, these have always been his politics. He’s always had this aria of conservatism in his politics that black people do not grasp enrichment by a politics of protest, though by a politics of earning as most income as possible, and perplexing to get out of a entrepreneur complement whatever they can for a functions of building mercantile self-sufficiency. And criticism is an snag to that in a mind of Jim Brown. And those have always been his politics.

What we find so engaging is that his status on a field, we think, blinded people to what his politics were. I’ll tell we an instance of this that we find so interesting, is we scoured a black press in 1968 for when Jim Brown permitted Richard Nixon, and there are sardonic editorials opposite other black celebrities who were endorsing Nixon, and we could not find a bad word about Jim Brown.

On a story of accusations opposite Jim Brown of assault opposite women

It’s a array of accusations that go from a 1960s by a 1990s, and but a conviction. … The steady accusations and descriptions lead we to demeanour during this as a conditions where Jim Brown, during times in his life, really saw women as partial of a problem, as something that would move down a black family if they asserted themselves too most in a context of his life. And a accusations opposite Jim Brown are horrific, and they should be noticed as horrific. But it’s critical to contend that when they took place, that’s not how they were noticed — they were noticed with a poke and a wink. And so partial of what I’m essay this book is removing us to reassess those times and say: The time of nudging and winking and assault opposite women has to finish — it has to go into a cemetery of history.

Sarah Handel and Viet Le constructed and edited this story for broadcast. Patrick Jarenwattananon blending it for a Web.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

Widgetized Section

Go to Admin » appearance » Widgets » and move a widget into Advertise Widget Zone