Long have I been a fan of the Cleveland Browns footbal team. I was first drawn to their play back in 1957 when I was just starting the second grade. I had just been introduced to the sport of football by the guys I knew and asked my dad if I could watch the games with him on TV. He was only too glad to have a football buddy to join him while mom napped on the couch those Sunday afternoons. When it came time to watch the game of the week, we watched CBS, Channel 10, WBNS in Columbus, Ohio. They always showed the regional game. Back then that meant that they showed the Cleveland Browns.
Dad and I watched and I caught his enthusiasm for the game and the Browns. Dad told me all about them and their team. He and I were introduced to their rookie running back together while watching the first game of the season in '57. That guy was amazing. He was big and strong and fast and shifty and...let me just put it this way; he was Jim Brown. THE Jim Brown; the back who redefined the position and is still the measuring stick by which all other backs are reckoned for greatness. I got to watch just about every game Jim Brown played in over his career, right at Dad's side in the living room there in Jeffersonville, Ohio.
He became my favorite player. When I bought my first pack of football cards there was a Jim Brown card in the pack. I flipped it over and read the particulars. "Nathaneal James Brown - 6' 2" - 228 lbs. - Born: February 17,1936, St. Simons, Georgia." Whoa!!! Wait just a minute. No wonder he's so special. He was born on my dad's fifteenth birthday. That was my impression. To this day, he is still a special figure to me; a legendary presence that overshadows the Browns organization as he represents the link of the Browns franchise to the glory years.
Jim Brown played on the last National Football League Championship team that the Browns had. They beat the Baltimore (yes, Baltimore, not Indianapolis) Colts 27 - 0 in 1964. If pressed to do so I could probably name the entire starting lineup for that championship team. One of them, left tackle Dick Schafrath, actually became an acquaintence of mine with whom I've shared a couple of meals in Bellville, Ohio. The point is this, as great as Jim Brown was, he was nothing without Dick Schafrath and the others out in front of him. They were a team and meshed so well as a unit. Each one did what they needed to do for the Browns to win, not for personal glory, but for the team.
"We should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness by which they lie in wait to deceive, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ - from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love." Ephesians 4:14-16 It's not about who is the greatest Christian or player. It is all about winning for the body, the team. It is all about glorifying Christ, not us.
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