Steve Harvey and Jesse, his dad, used to love to watch the Cleveland Browns and cheer on star running back Jim Brown.
It made sense. The Harvey’s lived in Cleveland. The Browns were the hometown team.
But Jesse Harvey wanted his son to pay attention to Brown for other reasons. The details of how Brown ran, even how the NFL Hall of Famer carried himself back to the huddle provided meaning.
Harvey, the comedian, author and game-show host, said watching Brown run taught him a basic fact of life. He told the anecdote for NFL Films when the production team queried celebrities about their favorite players.
“See, my father made me understand him,” Harvey said. “He’d say “watch this man right here. He don’t run out of bounds. (He’s) over here by that sideline, he’s going to get some more.’ (Harvey’s father) said ‘watch how slow he gets up.’ He’d be the last person into the huddle.
“And my father taught me something. He said ‘hey, you know what that is? He delivered. In life, just get up slow because you’re going to have to pick yourself up a bunch of times. You don’t need to rush it.’ ”
Yes, it was profound for a child.
“I was like wow, you’re a little black kid in the 60s, man, you’ve got to go, wait, wait a minute,” Harvey said. “What’s happening here. (So) this is doable you mean? So, he was quite an inspiration.”
Steve Harvey Was Inspired by Jim Brown’s Work With Civil Rights
Harvey said of Brown “he was around in the time where America was trying to change. Some people were really trying to bring about change. For him to be an athlete and be involved with that, it was inspirational. It was was Jim Brown out there.
“It was Jim Brown saying ‘we’ve got to stand up and stick together.’ It was Jim Brown out there on the front line who was saying ‘we’ve got to stand up for justice’ and saying ‘hey man, we’ve got to be treated equal.’ That was incredible.”
Brown played for the Browns from 1957-65. He led the Browns to an NFL championship in 1964. Brown topped the league in rushing for eight of his nine seasons. He averaged more than 104 yards a game. And he’s still the only running back ever to average more than 100. So when you’re talking greatest football player of all time, Brown is in the conversation.
Here’s a look back at some of Brown’s top plays.
But Brown’s life never was just about football. He also fought for civil rights. He’s still involved.
Brown told the NFL Network earlier this year that he appreciated the players protesting for racial equality.
Brown said: I think it’s fantastic. I think it was needed. The events that occurred were very shocking and it brought a lot of people together. And when you think of African Americans and you think of Caucasians, to see them work together, to see the young people work together, it does my heart good.”
Check out some of the other favorite players: