His salary was $12,000—not a princely sum, but not bad for a rookie in 1957. Jim Brown put his name on a Cleveland Browns contract in the summer before his first NFL season and now, a copy of that pact, including two Brown signatures, is on the block. SCP Auctions says it could sell for $35,000 or more when bidding wraps up this weekend.
Measuring 8″ x 19-5/8” the one page yellow document remains in excellent condition, with the usual horizontal folds. The “standard” NFL contract features all the printed legal details plus typewritten specific notes.
The 21-year-old Brown would get “75% of said salary in weekly installments commencing with the first and ending with the last regularly scheduled League game played by the Club during such season and the balance of 25% of said sum at the end of the last regularly scheduled League game.”. The annual salary, “$12,000.00”, is hand written in blue ink. In today’s dollars, the deal was worth just over $102,000.
“Jim Brown’s 1957 rookie contract has to be one of the most important pieces of Jim Brown memorabilia known and is certainly among the most significant football related documents in existence,” said SCP Auctions Vice President Dan Imler.
The contract has been signed on the bottom left by NFL Commissioner Bert Bell. On the right side is Brown’s signature, “James N. Brown” along with that of Cleveland Browns scout Richard Gallagher. Two witnesses have also signed on the left.
On the back is a handwritten addendum written by Gallagher that reads: “In consideration for signing this contract the Cleveland Browns Inc., agree to pay Jim Brown $3000.00 (three thousand dollars) at his option (as a bonus for signing this contract). Both Jim Brown and Gallagher signed the addendum in the same blue ball point pen.
Brown responded with a strong rookie season for the Browns, leading the league in rushing yards (942), rushing touchdowns (9) and rushing yards per game (78.5). Brown never missed a game due to injury and would lead the NFL in rushing for his first five years in a row and in eight of his nine seasons overall. After leading the Browns to an 11-3 record and the NFL Title Game in 1965, Brown retired at the age of 29 to enter the motion picture business.
Online bidding is open to registered bidders only and concludes on Saturday, April 25 at SCPAuctions.com.