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Jim Brown, NFL legend, actor and early UFC color commentator, dies at 87

50th Annual San Francisco International Film Festival - Film Society Awards Night Photo by Albert Chau/FilmMagic

NFL legend Jim Brown, who retired in the prime of his football career to pursue acting, has died at 87.

Brown’s wife Monique announced the news on Instagram after he passed away quietly at home on Thursday night.

“To the world, he was an activist, actor, and football star,” she wrote. “To our family, he was a loving husband, father, and grandfather. Our hearts are broken.”

A multi-sport athlete at the University of Syracuse, Brown was selected by the Cleveland Browns sixth overall in the 1957 draft and became one of the most ferocious running backs in football history. Brown set numerous records and was a three-time NFL MVP, taking the Browns to the NFL title in 1964.

The following year,Brown shocked the world by announcin his retirement to pursue an acting career; he went onto star in more than 30 films. Oscar winner Quentin Tarantino credited seeing Brown’s 1972 movie 100 Rifles as a moment he’s carried throughout his entire filmmaking career.

“Either as a movie consumer, or when creating movies for an audience — that goal of a Jim Brown movie on a Saturday night in 1972 is what I’m trying to recreate,” Tarantino said.

Brown was not only a well-known action star but a sports commentator. In 1993, he was hired to provide color commentary for the first-ever UFC card alongside Bill Wallace and Kathy Long.

Brown called that historic event and stuck around for the next five UFC events. Former UFC co-owner Campbell McLaren once addressed why Brown was hired, saying “well, we thought it would be cool.”

Later in his life, Brown won more film acting roles such as Oliver Stone’s Any Given Sunday. He also served as a fierce social activist, fighting for racial equality, helping at-risk youths and working to curb gang violence.

Brown is survived by his wife and five children.

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