For anyone who’s not a math junky or a professional accountant or statistician who understands more than numbers and stats when it comes to sports and is actually interested in what goes on in football games and how plays happen and what the offense has to do to be successful and exactly what the defense needs to do to stop the offense, I’m going to explain why Jim Brown, the former great Cleveland Browns running back, is the greatest running back of all time, if not the greatest football player of all time. And then I’ll even throw in some numbers for the younger stats-addicted generation as well.
To look at Jim Brown, sure, you could look at his numbers and say they were very impressive, especially considering he only played nine seasons and 116 games and rushed for over 13,000 yards, averaged 5.1 yards per carry, and scored over 100 touchdowns. He averaged over 100 yards a game rushing in his NFL career as well but that still wouldn’t be enough to give Big Jim all of the credit he deserves, and you would need to go much further than that.
Another way to look at Jim Brown would be his size and physical talents: 6’2″, 225-230 pounds, 4 or 5 percent body fat. He could outrun not only a lot of receivers back in the 1960s but also outrun a lot of receivers today. He ran a 4.2 or 4.3 40-yard dash; I mean, he was literally a human horse with all of that power, size, and strength constantly going up against defenders; he was not only stronger, bigger, and faster than another man of that size and and speed coming right at you, but you had to stop him and that meant tackling him.
The way I look at Jim Brown is the way I look at all running backs; that is, what do defenses have to do to stop him? Based on that alone, forgetting about the stats for a minute, Jim Brown is the greatest running back of all time because he was simply the hardest to defend against and was always one broken tackle away from scoring because of his size and speed. There are plenty of running backs with that quality but no other running back was a bigger threat to score than Jim Brown.