- NFL fans want to know what is the significance behind the number 32 emblazoned on the front of all Cleveland Browns players' jerseys.
- It's the number of one of the franchise's (and league's) most celebrated and accomplished players, Jim Brown.
- Brown would go on to become a successful actor, and was also known for his civil rights activism.
If you've been watching the Browns this season, you may have noticed that the Cleveland-based NFL squad has been rocking the number 32 on a special patch located on the upper left side of each player's jersey, right above each player's heart. If you've been left wondering why this number is on all of their uniforms, the answer lies in the passing of a legendary running back whom fans of the sport either remember, or, at the very least, have heard of.
Why do the Browns have 32 on their Jerseys?
It's the number of former NFL running back Jim Brown, one who is heralded by many to be the gold standard for the position in the league. During his tenure with the Cleveland Browns, Jim managed to rush 12,312 yards over the course of nine seasons with the squad.
He would ultimately retire in 1965 after winning his third and final MVP distinction, a lofty accomplishment for someone in their last year playing, and pursue a successful career in acting.
Brown wasn't just considered one of the greatest running backs of all time, however — there are others who say he's one of the most influential and decorate athletes to have ever played the sport, period. In every season he played in the NFL, Brown was invited to participate in the Pro Bowl.
A year prior to his retirement, Brown also helped secure a Super Bowl championship for the Browns in 1964, and led the league in rushing yards for eight out of the nine seasons that he played. The Sporting News even ranked Brown as the greatest NFL player to have ever lived in 2002, some 21 years before he passed away on May 18, 2023.
Where is Jim Brown from?
Although Brown spent the entirety of his NFL career with the Cleveland Browns, he was born on St. Simons Island, Georgia, to professional boxer Swinton Brown and his mother Theresa, who was a homemaker.
The NFL star was an athletic prodigy from a young age, and managed to accrue 13 different letters while running track and playing baseball, basketball, lacrosse, and football at the Manhasset Secondary School in Manhasset, N.Y.
Throughout high school and college, Brown excelled not just in football, but also basketball; at Manhassett he held the record for most average points per game — 38 — which wasn't broken until Carl Yastrzemski, who would go on to become a notable player for the Boston Red Sox, came in to break that record.
In college, despite being discriminated against by game attendees who called him racist slurs, and from school administrators who reneged on scholarship promises and wouldn't allow him to stay in athlete-only dorms, Brown managed to shatter rushing records in football, become the second highest consistent scorer on his basketball team, and was named a second team All-American in Lacrosse.
Brown wasn't just committed to the Cleveland Browns during his tenure with the NFL, but also the service of his country: The prolific athlete was a part of the U.S. Army Reserves while still in the pros, and was ultimately discharged — but not before attaining a Captain's rank.
Jim Brown also shattered records in his acting roles as well: Brown starred alongside Raquel Welch and Burt Reynolds in the 1969 20th Century Fox flick 100 Rifles, which featured one of the first interracial love scenes in a major motion picture feature release.
Brown's name was not only billed above Reynolds' and Welch's, but he was also paid $200,000 for his part in the flick along with 5 percent of the movie's box office, making him one of Hollywood's highest-paid Black actors at the time. Brown would go on to be featured in a number of high-profile projects throughout his career like Any Given Sunday, He Got Game, Mars Attacks, The Running Man, and others.
The pro baller and actor was 87 years old when he passed, and declined a funeral ceremony prior to his death. Instead, his wife Monique "planned a private memorial for her husband" according to the NFL and Associated Press.