James Nathaniel Brown (born February 17, 1936) is a former professional American football player and actor. He was a fullback for the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 through 1965. Frequently regarded among the greatest football players of all time, Brown was a Pro Bowl invitee every season he was in the league, was recognized as the NFL Most Valuable Player four times, and won an NFL championship with the Browns in 1964. He led the league in rushing yards in eight out of his nine seasons, and by the time he retired, he had shattered most major rushing records. In 2002, he was named by The Sporting News as the greatest professional football player ever.
Brown earned consensus All-America honors playing college football at Syracuse University in New York, where he was an all-around player for the Syracuse Orangemen football team. He also excelled in basketball, track and field, and lacrosse. The football team later retired his number 44 jersey. He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1995.
In his professional career, Brown carried the ball 2,359 times for 12,312 rushing yards and 106 touchdowns, which were all records when he retired. He averaged 104.1 rushing yards per game, and is the only player in NFL history to average over 100 rushing yards per game for his career. His 5.2 yards per rush is third-best among running backs. Brown was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. He was named to the NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team, comprising the best players in NFL history. His number 32 jersey is retired by the Browns. Shortly after his football career, Brown became an actor, and had several leading roles throughout the 1970s.