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Jim Brown!!

May 21, 2023

“Remembering,” usually precedes above, however, as I commence the difficult task of noting Jim Brown, an activist, athlete and actor (an Andy hero, whose Hollywood Hills home I was invited to on two occasions), who died days back at age 87, I start with his name, as called in myriad instances.

Certainly there is the “pitch to” as the superb broadcaster Ken Coleman “started” a run, by the greatest to ever do so in pro football.

In Richard Pryor’s brilliant, poignant and ultimately sad comedy, regarding his addiction to cocaine, specifically crack cocaine, JIM BROWN is heard as he did try to help Richard, regarding that so powerful “pipe.”

It was so often his name and the high praise for it, even by those, the vast — if not total populace, that unlike me, rooted for the local Giants. I was for Jim Brown, originally Paul Brown and the Cleveland Browns.

Over the years, I was fortunate to have spoken with Jim many times and as I got some insight into his advanced thinking, his football exploits were almost never, if ever, a topic.

Thus Jim, I never told you what December 27, 1964 and your/”my” Cleveland Browns’ title win vs the great John Unitas and the Baltimore Colts, meant to me. I am telling you now, it is still and hopefully always will be a great memory

It was Frank to Gary thrice (Ryan threw 3 TD passes to Collins), my grandmother, dad, mom and me in an upholstered chair watching the only time “my” Browns ever won it. (Of course led by the immortal, “Automatic Otto,” Mr. Otto Graham, they won 3 NFL crowns and all 4 All American Football Conference title tilts that were played but that was before my time. I no longer root for them. I will say with Jim being honored somewhere on their football parapharnalia, I hope and believe they will play well in 2023)

1966 and I thought, not knowing better, it was still a good world, despite the fact ‘they’ blew the back of President Kennedy’s head off, as my great sports heroes, #32’s (an aside-the first time I met Jim was in the summer of ’89 and I recall his nice words to Sandy as he walked past Jim and me as we were doing an interview), Jim and Sandy Koufax were playing and in their great prime.

Soon that changed, the rest of the guys cheering loud in the movie theater, when Jim’s “Jefferson” ran to his death in “The Dirty Dozen.” Maybe they were so happy Jim was no longer playing vs their team.

Then November came, Dad came home from work, it was a Friday as it would be when news came another hero Muhammad Ali died and 2 days back when Jim left (he had died on Thursday May 18th, an eery 60 years to the date that fellow Syracuse star, Ernie Davis died at the tragically young age of 22–more on that later), I probably asked for the newspaper (remember them) before saying hello and then I saw that Sandy, now my lone still alive original sports hero, had retired from baseball, doing so a la Jim, at his individual peak or near it.

Life got tougher as it does for most, especially those of us who were “big fishes in little ponds,” soaking wet behind the ears but in fairness, “of the ideal,” and that as the kids “botch,” SO included loving Jim Brown.

One way I began to cope with Jim’s death was playing Bob Seger’s “Hollywood Nights,” as it helped recall my natural high driving both up and down, the song referenced Hollywood hills, before and especially after a former gang member turned activist, named “Rock,” held the camera and I interviewed Jim, sitting on his couch, the view at the window so great!

So often, always with respect it was “hey brother how are you doing and a short conversation” when I called Jim. However, he had been on my cable show via phone at least once, that in 1991. (I better find this stuff as a tangible memory to be referenced and enjoyed on occasion).

That December 1992, a “good” Friday, if you will, hearing I was in Los Angeles (I spell it out in honor of Jim) he, incredibly and kindly, invited me to his home for the interview.

Rather than go on and on, (also words in “Hollywood Nights” and there will be other remembrances and some past posts with Jim referenced will display), I cite my second visit to his home, a scant month after I lost the last and most important person (my dad had died 7 years earlier) in my life, my mother.

There was Jim playing chess (as one Orenthal James Simpson, in a very nice tribute to Jim on something called Twitter, said “Jim was the most competitive person” he knew) intensely with Rock, who remembered me.

We were seated on Jim’s deck, overlooking the city. This time many former, (maybe still) gang members, Jim and Rock worked with hoping to steer them toward better, completed the table’s populace.

I was so down, Jim noted I lost weight, but in just being there, in having this great man speak and encourage me, somehow life went on.

Now Jim’s incredible life on earth, his accomplishments and flaws documented elsewhere and barely touched here, has ended. It rips at me, this and so much else gone wrong!

However, in changing the same letters, save the “S,” into Rest In Peace and address it to Jim, I think of how fortunate I was to have admired, understood and interacted (we went really long the night of #2/’97 World Series, when it was a pitching matchup of Brown (Kevin) vs (Chad) Ogea, (pronounced O Jay) and then and at other times discussed the horrors of slavery, The Holocaust and economic hardship) with the indomitable Jim Brown!!

P.S. if you will, I must figure tags, find a picture or two and previous posts referencing Jim. To Monique, you know he loved you very much. Before my mother died there was Jim in Manhattan. I was with a guy whose name, as he told Jim, was similar to your Ari.

Jim was headed back to the hotel and we invited him to meet us later. We intended, in our futile efforts to meet women. When told of our plans and given a reminder of the fact he was married, Jim remarked “I can look can’t I”

Now he will look down upon you and his whole family, having done so much for so many while here on earth.

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