Did Jim Brown win a Super Bowl?
Jim Brown is, arguably, the best NFL running back of all time and a legend among legends.
However, Brown never won a Super Bowl as a player because the game didn’t exist at the time.
That said, Brown did help Cleveland win an NFL championship in 1964, their last as a town until the Cavaliers a championship in 2016.
Why the Super Bowl Did Not Exist in Brown’s Playing Time
Back in the early days of professional football, the NFL was likely the largest league in the nation but was far from the only game in town.
The American Football League or the AFL was getting bigger all of the time.
The origin of their rivalry began in 1959 when Lamar Hunt and many others formed the AFL.
Although the NFL did welcome the new league formally, they expanded into areas where the AFL had set up base.
And while the NFL initially believed that the AFL would only attract second-rate players or those well past their prime, the league started gathering up great players such as Joe Namath.
As a result, the competition between the leagues grew high with the AFL drawing one million fans to its games every year.
As a result, the two leagues came to a merger agreement on June 8, 1966.
This new league would be called the NFL, as it had more clout than the AFL.
The two leagues would split into conferences: the NFC would be the old NFL, and the AFC would be the old AFL.
All eight teams from the original AFL were added, which made the league one of the biggest in professional sports.
The two leagues decided that their championship game – the first in 1967 – would be between the two leagues and would be called the Super Bowl.
And while the NFL won the first two under the Green Bay Packers, Joe Namath and the Jets from the AFL beat Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts in an upset during Super Bowl III.
The Browns won the championship by beating the Colts in 1964 with Jim Brown leading the team.
The 1964 Championship
Although Jim Brown did not win a Super Bowl, he was a significant part of the last championship win the Browns ever earned.
This championship is one that many fans still talk 50 years later.
The excitement is understandable – the Browns won playing a team better than them and won in a big way.
At the time, the Baltimore Colts were heavily favored to win the game and were 12-2 in the regular season.
The Browns were 10-3-1 and had struggled on defense all season.
They had given up the most yards of any NFL team all season, and many figured that they were going to lose.
In fact, a fan came up to the team in a bar and played taps on a small plastic trumpet to mock them.
The Browns seemed to snap into shape after that mockery and put on one of their best defensive performances of the year.
They not only held the Colts to just 181 total yards of offense but picked off Hall of Fame quarterback Johnny Unitas twice.
Jim Brown had a typically excellent game of 114 rushing yards, in spite of the nearly freezing temperature.
This win came with Browns quarterback Frank Ryan threw three touchdowns and was an excellent turnaround from his struggles earlier in the game.
At one point, he threw an interception and was forced to make the tackle in front of the Colts sideline.
The players mocked him heavily and were very arrogant about their chances to win, in spite of both teams being scoreless at the half.
Cleveland then adjusted its approach, doubled-down on defense, and started getting the right passes and the right runs at the right times.
They jumped out 17-0 at the end of the third quarter and fans – particularly Baltimore followers – were stunned.
Everybody kept waiting for Unitas to mount a comeback and take his team to the end zone, but snow, the cold, and the eager Browns’ defense held the team scoreless going into the fourth.
And a further 10 points by the Browns in the last quarter put away the Colts.
This upset, while not the biggest in championship history, was still one that excited Cleveland fans and sports followers for years.
And while the Browns made it to the championship game the next year – in a loss to the Packers – they’ve never again had such a big moment.
Most of that success at the time is owed to Jim Brown, who helped the team stay relevant long after they lost their best coach.