It seems almost impossible to fathom but it’s true.
When the College All-Star team he was on met the NFL champion New York Giants in the annual summer benefit game in 1957, Jim Brown didn’t carry the ball once.
Yes, he was healthy.
Coach Curly Lambeau did have some other options on a wet summer night at Soldier Field. Notre Dame’s Heisman Trophy winner, Paul Hornung, was on the squad. So were Tennesee’s Johnny Majors, Oklahoma’s Tommy McDonald, Wake Forest’s Billy Ray Barnes and USC’s Jon Arnett.
Brown? He served as a kick returner for the All-Stars and “performed brilliantly” according to the Chicago Tribune, but the man who some still claim was the greatest running back in NFL history, was not a featured player for the All-Stars, who dropped a 22-12 decision to the Giants. While in a limited role, it was Brown’s first taste of the NFL competition he would start to dominate in a few weeks.
Now, a photo of Brown–kicking–during workouts for the game, has surfaced and is part of RMY Auctions’ October online catalog. Dated on the back with an original clipping from coverage of the pre-game preparations that shows the photo in use, it’s among the more unusual photos in the sale, which is underway through Saturday at RMYAuctions.com.
Brown wore number 44 that night, instead of the 32 for which he’d become famous. He served as a kicker at Syracuse, so it wasn’t unusual for him to be preparing for that possibility.
The contest was the 24th edition of the game, which benefitted Chicago Tribune Charities. It was held through 1976 and then discontinued.
Brown had been named first team All-American during his 1956 senior season, rushing for 986 yards eight games Syracuse played that year. In his final college game, he ran for six touchdowns, but when the Heisman Trophy balloting was announced, Brown finished fifth.