Tag Archives: walter payton

“Going Out On Top”: The Story Of Jim Brown’s Nine Season NFL Career

When football fans think of the greatest running backs of all time a few names usually come up.  Names like Walter Payton, Emmitt Smith, Gale Sayers.  There is a player some would consider greater than those previously named, Jim Brown.

The legendary Jim Brown. (Getty Images)

The legendary Jim Brown. (Getty Images)

Jim Brown was taken by the Cleveland Browns with the 6th overall pick in the 1957 NFL Draft.   Brown was a first-team All American at Syracuse University.  His senior season at the school was the most impressive.  During the 1956 College Football season Brown ran for 986 yards and scored 14 touchdowns in only eight games that season.

Jim Brown’s pro career would mirror the success of his college days.  When he came to Cleveland the Browns had yet to find an incredible running back since Hall Of Fame running back Marion Motley quit the team in 1954.  During his rookie season Brown ran for 942 yards and had 9 touchdowns.  Brown really turned it up a notch in his second season in 1958, rushing for 1527 yards with 17 touchdowns.

This amazing running back went on to seven seasons with 1,000-yards or more during his nine year career.  His highest rushing yardage season came in 1963 when he ran for 1,863- yards.  Brown’s 1963 season became the running back record for most rushing yards in a single season.  The record stood until 1973 when O.J. Simpson ran for 2,003-yards.

Jim Brown’s final season came in 1965.  His final game was on January 2, 1965 in the NFL Championship game against the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, WI.  Brown ran for 50-yards, caught 3 passes for 44-yards but scored no touchdowns.  The Packers defeated the Cleveland Browns by a score of 23-12.

During his final campaign Brown ran for 1,544 yards and once again recorded 17 touchdowns on the ground.  Brown would decide to leave football following 1965 season to pursue an acting career.  Many around football could not believe he would leave the NFL while still proving to be one of the best players in the game. At the age of 29 Jim Brown was retired from football and would never play again in the NFL.  

His nine season career still stands out as one of the best in NFL History.  Jim Brown amassed 12,312 yards (An NFL record not broken until 1984 by Walter Payton) while rushing for 80 touchdowns and caught 20 touchdown passes.  Brown led the league in rushing for eight of his nine seasons and was selected as a Pro Bowler in every season he played in the NFL.  In 1971 Jim Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall Of Fame.

When going back through the records and accomplishments during his playing days it is hard to deny that Jim Brown is one of the greatest players of all time.  He may no lomger hold any of the amazing records he set during his career but they are still impressive 49 years after he retired. He was a bruising power back the likes we have never seen since and may never see again.  Jim Brown truly left the game of football while still on top.

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How Mike Ditka Stole Super Bowl Glory From Walter Payton

Walter Payton was one of the greatest running backs in the history of the National Football League.  He retired after the 1987 season with the Chicago Bears.  Payton finished his career with 110 rushing TD’s, 15 receiving TD’s and 16,726 rushing yards.  He was also on one of the best bears teams ever, the 1985 Chicago Bears.  The Bears won Super Bowl XX and cemented Payton’s place in the Hall Of Fame as a Super Bowl winner.  There however is one thing missing from his career.  Payton never scored during the only Super Bowl appearance and you might be suprised to find out it was no fault of his own.

Walter Payton in Superbowl XX. (Getty Images)

Walter Payton in Superbowl XX. (Getty Images)

When the season began Head Coach Mike Ditka was very high on his 1st draft pick William “the refrigerator” Perry.  Perry came into camp very unimpressive and was overweight at 380lbs.  The Defensive coach Buddy Ryan was not impressed by Perry and did not want to play him.  During the early part of the season Ditka got the idea to use Perry in offensive plays to block for Walter Payton.  Perry sometimes even rushed with the ball himself.  He was later put into the defense and played well.  During the season Perry became an offensive gimmick.  He was the funny fat guy that the fans cheered for.  Perry almost overshadowed the rest of the team in popularity.

William Perry (Getty Images)

William Perry (Getty Images)

The Bears made it through the season with a 15-1 record.  They plowed through the divisional and championship games to make it to Super Bowl XX in New Orleans.  Their challengers were the Cinderella team of that season,  the New England Patriots.  Nobody expected the Pats to make it as far as they did.  They were the underdogs going into the title game.  The Bears dominated the Pats on the defensive side of the ball.  The Offense of the Bears was stifled a bit, although the score tells a different story.  The Patriots based their defense around stopping Walter Payton.  They did just that, Payton was held to 66 yards on 22 carries.  Even with the lack of success Payton was still the Bears leading rusher in the game.

Mike Ditka made two decisions during that game that haunt him to this day.  On the two opportunities where the Bears were close to the goal line and a rush for the touchdown seemed the best choice, Ditka chose William Perry and Quarterback Jim McMahon to make those TD’s.  The most disappointing TD for Walter Payton was the Perry rush for the TD.  Perry had been primarily a defensive player and a gimmicky running back.  For Payton not to be allowed to gain the glory of scoring a TD in the biggest game of his career is a complete disgrace.

Mike Ditka after Superbowl XX. (Getty Images)

Mike Ditka after Superbowl XX. (Getty Images)

Walter Payton was always a stand up man and until the day he died he never openly questioned Mike Ditka for not letting him run in a TD in the Super Bowl.  Ditka has come out in recent years an said if he could do it all over again he would have opted for Payton to get the Super Bowl glory.  While Ditka can own up to his mistakes he will never be able to give those moments to the great Walter Payton.