NFL LEGEND JIM BROWN: HE RAN AGAINST THE WIND-LOVE HAD NOTHING TO WITH IT!
JIM BROWN IS THE GREATEST RUNNING BACK TO EVER PLAY IN THE NFL–-BAR NONE!
In a interview with legendary NBA Coach, Red Auerbach back in the 80s, he said, “Whenever the conversation comes up regarding the greatest all-around athlete, two names always lead the discussion, Jim Brown and Jackie Robinson.”
I met Jim my freshman year at Winston State University(aka Teachers College) in 1960 in Winston Salem, NC. He was the guest speaker for our athletic banquest. Coach Clarence ‘Bighouse’ Gaines made the banquet off limits to all freshman athletes. I showed up anyway (May 21st Happy Heavenly Birthday Bighouse). Coca-Cola sponsored the banquet.
When I hear vocalist Bob Seager’s classic “Running Against the Wind” I think of Jim Brown. He ran against the wind on the biggest stage available, The Game Called Life. He carried his act from the University of Syracuse, to the NFL and on to Hollywood, never saying, “I am sorry.”
I was an off and on friend/associate of his for 60 years “I am sorry” was not a part of his vocabulary.
Legendary jazz crooner, Frank Sinatra was not the only one to do it “My Way”!
Jim Brown was a complicated and complex human being. He definely marched to his own drum beat. I was an eye witness up close and personal to his Good, Bad and Ugly ways.
There were times I had to wear my “Peace Maker Hat” to squash beefs he was having with his peers and they always seen to be other great pro athletes, two of them were friends of mine.
First, meet the great Avatus Stone a native Washingtonian and one of the greatest all-around athletes to ever come out of DC.
THE GREAT AVATUS STONE
He was a standout athlete from Armstrong High School in NW Washington D.C. Avatus lettered in football, basketball and baseball. He entered Syracuse in 1949 to become the first black player during the era of Coach Ben Schwartzwalder.
Avatue Stone was a standout quarterback, defensive back and punter. He was a force on the Syracuse squad in 1950, his first season on the varsity squad. Although newspaper accounts described his play as “erratic” there is no denying he was a dangerous player when he was on his game. Washington, DC’s Wilmet-Sedat Singh was the first black QB to play for Syracuse in the 1930s.
Against Rutgers that 1950 season, Avatus boomed a 67-yard punt that stood as a school record for decades. Another Syracuse record was set against Penn State when he grabbed three interceptions – running one back 98 yards for a touchdown and another 85 yards to score. Only two other players have been able to tie that single game total since, Tommy Meyers in 1970 and Markus Paul in 1985.
Avatus returned to Syracuse in 1951 and when quarterback Pete Stark suffered a broken leg, he was moved to the position making him the only black QB for a major college team that season.
The Orangemen promptly went on to win three of the final four contests that season. Avatus threw a school record three touchdowns against Fordham and his 25.9 yards per completion that day remains 7th in the Syracuse record book.
With all these achievements he was expected to have a stellar senior season in 1952. But two days before the first game he tore the ligaments in his knee in practice and missed the entire season.
When Syracuse announced the roster for the Orange Bowl game, it was legit there were no black players on the Syracuse roster when the University of Alabama barred any black players to play against them in the Orange Bowl in 1952.
AVATUS STONE WAS DOWN BUT NOT OUT IN 1952
Integration came slowly to Syracuse from Wilmet-Sedat Singh in the 30s to Avatus Stone in the 50s. The Syracuse football team in 1950 was not equal for black players. Avatus was not allowed to eat or room with white teammates and the coaching staff forbid him from fraternizing with white co-eds (who he reportedly dated while at school). When Stone lashed out against these prohibitions he was labeled as a “troublemaker.”
Due to untimely injuries, Avatus never reached his full college potential. He was drafted by the NFL St. Louis Cardinals in 1953. He reported to the Cardinal’s camp and two weeks later disappeared. He was found in the Canadian League with the Ottawa Rough Riders. It was rumored the Rough Riders gave his mother $2,000 to come to Canada.
The Cardinals threaten to sue, all of the threats and posturing between the two clubs never materialized in a lawsuit. Avatus remained with the Rough Riders and enjoyed a fruitful season in 1953, finishing among the league leaders in rushing, scoring, pass interceptions, punting, and kickoff returns.
He played in the Canadian league through 1957, was twice named to the All-Star team, and in 1955 received the Jeff Russel Memorial Trophy as the Most Outstanding Player in the Eastern Division.
Avatus Stone was last seen in 1958 in the camp of the NFL Baltimore Colts. He played in one game and disappeared again for the last time.
I first met Avatus in the early 50s in my Parkside Housing Project in NE DC. The brothers from the housing project would meet after school on an empty lot and play tackle football behind the DGS Food Store.
There was a new middle class apartment complex Mayfair Mansions built directly across the street from my housing project in the 50S.
One evening a mother from Mayfair showed up with her son and left him to join us. It didn’t go well for her son. We roughed him up pretty good and he ran home with tears in his eyes.
The next day she brought him back again and left him to fend for himself. This time he would return home with a bloody nose. The very next day she returned with him again, but this time Avatus Stone was with them.
Avatus, took charge of the field with pass catching drills and taught us defensive passing skills. The little kid had no more problems from us.
The little kid went on to become a trailbalazing wide receiver for the Naval Academy and the University Maryland. His name is Darryl Hill. The history he never talks about (CRT). He wants us to believe he was born tough.
TRAILBLAZING PASS CATCHER DARRYL HILL
Avatus and I would later become great friends, his wife Carrie and my wife Hattie were PE teachers at McKinley Tech High School in NE DC. We hung out on his boat on the weekends, and there were the dinner parties at their home in SW DC.
We would talk about his football trials and tribulations at Syracuse, the Canadian League and the NFL, no regrets except Jim Brown.
He could not figure out why Jim spend his NFL career bad mouthing him about Syracuse Unversity! It was hard for me to believe these two great athletes had never met!
He knew Jim and I were good friends. He asked me to set up a meeting for the two of them. No problem, Jim would becoming to DC in a couple of weeks for a fund raiser for Kids In Trouble, Inc.
CONGRESSMAN LOU STOKES & JIM BROWN ON THE HILL
The fundraiser would be held at the PIER 7 on the SW Waterfront. I invited Congressman Lou Stokes (D-Ohio) an Vinnie Cohen. Stokes and Jim were good friends during his great playing days in Cleveland and Vinnie was his roommate at Syracuse.
As luck would have it Avatus was now a successful businessman and he was called out of town for an important business meeting on the day of the fundraiser. Avatus died a year later–I tried.
Lenny Moore of the Baltimore Colts is considered one of the most electrifying players to ever play in the NFL. The tandrem of QB Johnny Unitas, WR Raymond Berry, TE John Mackey and WR/RB Lenny Moore was considered the most dangerous offense in the entire NFL in the 60s.
Lenny Moore was an All-American at Penn State. In the NFL he played both halfback and flanker. He spend his entire 12 year career with the Baltimore Colts from 1956 to 1967. Lenny’s NFL trademark was the white tape he wore outside of his football cleats during the games (Spats). He is the only running back in NFL history to score 25 pass catching touchdowns averaging 50+ yards. He spend his entire professional career giving back to others. Kids In Trouble was one of the benefactors and the Baltimore Juvenile Justice System was the other. Lenny was an officer and a gentleman.
When the Cleveland Browns returned to Baltimore after a 12 year absense it was the homecoming of homecomings. Jim Brown traveled from California to Baltimore to maintane his ties with owner Art Modell.
Lenny Moore made his home in Baltimore after his career was over. He was a fan favorite during and after his playing days. The Baltimore Raven players loved him and confided in him. Jim tried to maintain his locker room presence but found it difficult traveling from California to Baltimore for home games.
He became paranoid about Lenny’s presense in the locker room with the players. He spreaded the word Lenny was telling lies about him to the players.
When Lenny called to ask me to come to Baltimore, I had no clue that Jim would stoop that low to spread that kind of gossip about one of the nicest brothers in pro sports. He was truly a man of integrity.
I introduced the University of Maryland All-American running back Lamont Jordan to Lenny at one of my Kids In Trouble Christmas toy parties at Union Station. Lenny told him, ” If you need any advice heading into the NFL, I am just a telephone call away in Baltimore”.
Jordan was drafted by the New York Jets and later signed a multi-million dollar contract with the Oakland Raiders. He squandered millions of dollars away on drugs and prositutes listening to John Thompson and Doc Walker. Lenny was just a telephone call away. Sad to say, “A fool and his money are soon parted” Jordan returned home a broken man, but he seems to have recovered.
When I met with Lenny in Baltimore, he was very emotional. He blurted out, “Man you are not going to believe what I have to tell you. Jim Brown is going around telling people I am telling lies about him to the players.” I was stunned, and finally said, “Say What?”
Lenny, asked me to give Jim a call and try to staighten the matter out. Lenny Moore, loved Jim Brown like a brother.
It took me several days to catch up with Jim, I told him, “Lenny Moore would never say anything negative about you to anyone. He loves you like a brother.” Evidently, he took my advice to call Lenny and straighten things out. Lenny called me several days later to say Jim had called and claimed it was all a misunderstanding. Usually, when there were misunderstanings, it was never his.
UNION STATION KIDS IN TROUBLE CHRISTMAS TOY PARTY: GEORGE NOCK (NFL)-LAMONT JORDAN (MD. U)-LAWRENCE WADE (EASTERN HS)-STANDING: BERT RANDOLPH SUGAR (BOXING)-SAM JONES (NBA)-HBELL & LENNY MOORE (NFL)
LAMONT AND THE BOYS AT A EASTERN HIGH SCHOOL SPORTS BANQUET
There were several other incidents in media and politics I had to step in and call a truce on Jim’s behalf. There were sports media personalities like James Brown, he thought it was funny to introduce himself as not the Jim Brown who tossed women over baconies. This was all done during a sports media panel discussion on the campus of the University of the District of Columbia (before CBS). I took James aside after the panel discussion was over and told him, “Your introduction was not funny and as a black man you shown no respect.”
There was USA Today sports columnist Jon Saraceno. He wrote a column saying, “Jim Brown will always be a hero to blacks, but he does not deserve their admiration. His domestic violence abuse of black women is shameful.”
This was not Saraceno’s call, he had never walked in Jim Brown’s shoes or any other black man in America. He should have checked the history of white men and their abuse of black women long before Jim Brown (not to deny Jim had some issues).
I called Saraceno out and invited him on sports talk radio to discuss Jim Brown’s abuse of black women. I wanted to know, what did he know and when did he know it as it related to Jim’s abuse of black women?
Instead, Saraceno called Cowboy Reggie a sports talk show host friend of mine in Richmond, Virginia begging him to ask me to stop misquoting him. Saraceno later apologized to Jim in his column.
Congresswoman Maxine Waters a dear friend of Jim Brown or so he thought, called him out at one of the annual Congressional Black Caucus Weekends several years ago. She called him a pimp and hustler in the black community (Jackie Joyner Kersey did something similar on national television).
When Jim heard Water’s testimony, he said, “I introduced her to her husband, my teammate, Sidney Williams. She has been at my home in the company of Jack Kemp (Secretary of Housing and former NFL QB). I don’t know where she is coming from?” Famous last words! This is the best example of the kettle calling the pot black (Maxine Waters vs Jim Brown).
Jim Brown has been accused of domestic violence on six different occasions. His wife Monique called the cops the sixth and last time in 2007. When the cops arrived he was found smashing her car up. He was arrested and taken to jail.
He went before the judge, she offered him probation but he needed to first pick up trash off the side of the road. Jim Brown’s response, “I take jail!”
His one call from jail was to his wife Monique, it was a call for help. He told her to call me to help get him released from jail and I did. Jack Kemp was instrumental in assisting me to getting Jim an early released.
He served less than than 30 days. He hated asking anyone for help. It is the one thing I got from our relationship, I wear as a badge of honor–Jim Brown asked Harold Bell for HELP!
Jim Brown was a complicated and complex man and love had nothing to do with it–accept for himself!