A Day and Night with Jim Brown at Williams

Jim Brown with students & media in Hopkins Hall
Jim Brown with students & media in Hopkins Hall

WILLIAMSTOWN, MA -- With the large media presence in attendance to chronicle Jim Brown’s talk in Chapin Hall it makes no sense to re-hash what has already been reported in other locations – see below for current links.

Brown first appeared in Paresky Auditorium at 3:00 PM to talk to and with members of the Eph football and men’s lacrosse teams.  The players of both Eph teams were in awe and it took a little prodding from Brown to get them to loosen up.

Brown appeared pleasantly surprised that even at his advanced age that the Ephs seemed to know who he was and what he had achieved in sports, but he quickly related that what sports gave him most was confidence.

“Athletics gave me the confidence to do other things and that confidence was necessary for me to have a vision to make things happen.”

Brown told the assembled athletes and coaches that he did his homework, “I know about the academic excellence of this school.”

“I grew up in Manhasset on Long Island and I had the best education you could get. I lived with some of the richest people in the country, but they were good people. I took advantage of that education and I used it to make myself stronger and make me more than just a big, strong athlete.”

Jim Brown in Paresky with Eph football
& lacrosse

“Never be happy to just be rich, there is always another purpose in life – help someone else have a better life. Your quality of life is your relevance.”

“People try to compliment me by saying I was the best football player ever and I don’t need that… there is plenty of greatness to share, look at Barry Sanders and Gayle Sayers… they were great too. I don’t need to be the best. We can all be champions.”

“Winning is not the important thing – being a man and accepting your responsibilities are much more important – take responsibility for your actions, stand up for your principles and show character.”

“Ed Walsh my football coach at Manhasset High school showed me what goodness was and I couldn’t be fooled by being told it was something else.”

“The Superintendent of Manhasset High School flew up to Syracuse and told me not to quit the football team when I was down about not playing. I went from 5th string to All-American in two years. From that day forward I always believed that if we were of equal ability I would beat you because I would out work you and out prepare you… no one was going to tell me what I could or could not do.”

“Don’t let anyone ever tell you that you can’t do something.”

On leaving pro football early: “I had a good contract with Pepsi and a three picture deal with Paramount. I wanted to do other things in my life and I had already achieved an NFL title, 3 MVP awards and been All-Pro nine times. I left on top of my game when I wanted.”

“I was the first black actor to do a love scene with a white women – you know Raquel Welch (?) – it was in the movie 100 Rifles.”

“In the movies I wanted to play every role and break down stereotypes. There are so many wonderful things to do in life.”

Commenting about the youthfulness of his wife Monique – “I only like old money and old wine.”

“I don’t have any trophies in my house, but I do have one certificate from the NCAA that says I was one of the top 5 student-athletes of all-time. Education is power, man.”

Manhasset HS Hall of Famers (l.) Jim Brown meets
Renzie Lamb in Paresky Auditorium

Little did Brown know that on this day Ed Walsh, who had passed on recently, had one more gift for Brown.

At the conclusion of Brown’s talk, Eph assistant football and lacrosse coach and SAAC Coordinator, Donnie Brooks told Brown that retired Eph assistant football and head lacrosse coach Renzie Lamb had a gift for him. Brown was pleased to meet another man who is enshrined in the Manhasset Hall of Fame, Brown as an athlete and Lamb as a the lacrosse coach. Lamb led Manhasset lacrosse to an undefeated season just prior to come to Williams.

As Lamb spoke of Ed Walsh everyone could see how excited Brown was to know that Lamb and Walsh were friends, but when Lamb handed Brown an orange bag, Brown was touched to learn that Ed Walsh had given Renzie Lamb highlights of Brown’s career at Manhasset and now Lamb was giving them to Brown. After collecting himself Brown said, “I’ve lived a good life, I mean I mention Ed Walsh and up walks a man [Renzie Lamb] way out here with a bag with a film in it of my high school games that Ed Walsh gave him… I’m going to watch that… what were the chances of that being planned… life isn’t amazing (?)… c’mon man it’s a great ride.”

After speaking to and with Eph football and men’s lacrosse Brown headed over to Hopkins Hall for a modified press conference and Q & A with students.

Brown told the students it was Professor Bernard Moore (Political Science) who through his friendship with his wife Monique and support of Amer-I-Can that prompted him to visit Williams.

“Professor Bernard Moore can teach you so much. He goes to Washington all the time and works on laws and knows everyone. Use him.  He put Amer-I-can in places where we could never have gone on our own. We’re working on a plan now that will get Congressional support and end up going to the President to help this nation work on getting kids educated and eliminating violence.”

“I speak the truth and I say it straight. There are things I’ve done that I’ve regretted, but I have lived life and it is a beautiful life.”

“Today the world has changed a lot since Brown and Celtic great Bill Russell and Muhammad Ali brought social justice and racism issues to the public mind. “Money is so dominant now that every athlete has a manager and an agent and they have endorsement contracts so no one wants to rock the boat like we did… too much money to be made.”

“End zone dancing and fumble and sack celebrations bring back the old stereotypes of African-Americans.”

Jim Brown at Chapin Hall

“I had 50 gang members from the Bloods and Crips in my house… I mean killers and not a one of them pulled a gun on me or put a hand on me – why? Because I told them the truth and I gave them respect and you know what I learned? Most of them did not want to be in that situation.”

“Corporate greed is causing a lot of problems in America today. The capitalists said, follow us we’ll be your example, but then we found out that they were stealing from grandmothers and taking huge bonuses too. Capitalism has run amok, it may be time to add some socialism.”

“The 60s were the most provocative of times with young people out front demanding change and trying to make this country all that it can be. Those were the good people who stood up and said we’re not going to live like this.”

Brown created the Black Economic Union. “We created 400 black-owned companies just by assembling the top back athletes in one spot and getting them on board.”

“Law enforcement is after the fact, it does not deal with prevention. Prisons are big money, so there is no reason to rehabilitate folks and send them back to society.”

“America is for all of us.”

“The legacy of slavery is still there and it is still being fought. African-Americans are our own worst enemy – the family was destroyed and the black father disappeared.”

“Black families encouraging their kids to be the next Michael Jordan is crazy… Michael Jordan was a freak if nature… get your education and become a producer and not a consumer.”

“I will help any person any way I can.”

“Most change comes from people who care about others – it’s not always money, it can be love.”

“The NCAA is the most ridiculous organization – they don’t care about education they only care about making sure the “amateurs” don’t make money while they have the best food and rooms at their annual conventions…”

Brown readily admitted to having had a controversial life, but he firmly stated that he had no regrets. He has lived life on his own terms, a realization and fortitude forged from the moment he considered walking away from Syracuse football because he was mired on the fifth team and he was being told he was not good enough.

Chapin Hall

Jamaal Johnson, a sophomore on the Eph baseball and indoor track & field teams introduction of Brown was passionate and even ground breaking. Johnson spoke of his lifelong admiration of Jim Brown as an athlete and as a man engaged in social change.

Brown was impressed with the introduction noting, “That young man Jamaal did something no one else has ever done in introducing me… he found out I was drafted by the NBA’s Syracuse Nationals in the first round… that’s pretty good.”

Brown then told one an all that Williams being number nationally in academics and athletics is “a tremendous reflection of what excellence in America is all about.”

Brown quickly singled out Professor Bernard Moore for praise in getting him to visit Williams.  Brown attributed Moore’s connections with prominent members of Congress for getting Brown to testify in front of Congress the day before he came to Williams. Brown told Congress that it is shameful the way the NFL and has been treating its players’ and their medical issues.

Further, it was Moore who was able to get Brown to meet and speak to members of Congress to hear about Brown’s Amer-I-Can program [http://www.amer-i-can.org/].  “We’re going to get this program in front of the President with Congressional support,” said Brown. “And then I’m going to call all of my friends and we’re going to say, “Mr. President we have an answer to youth violence in America, we need your support.  You will be hearing about this soon… look for it.”

For Professor Moore the entire day and night with Jim Brown and the reception offered Brown and his wife Monique by the Williams Community was, ”Simply overwhelming.”

First year wrestling candidate Chris Simmons from LA was equally impressed. “Jim Brown is awesome, I’ve seen what he can do in LA and I can only hope to do something as great as he has.”

Junior Lorenzo Patrick called Brown an inspiration for “all the work he has done with his Amer-I-can Program, especially in the LA area.”

Donnie Brooks, “I’m just so happy to see the large response from our students and the community to the appearance of Jim Brown on our campus. He can teach us all a lot about life and change.”

Commenting on leaving football early again to enter business and the movies Brown said, “I would rather stand here and talk about what more I might have done in football having my health than playing three more years, breaking three legs, being washed up and put on the second team and having you pity me when I retired.”

“Best advice I can give you:  Be a righteous person. If you do that a lot of our problems will go away.”

“The purpose of life is to give back, to help people. The joy you get from helping someone is wonderful.”

“When you can look around an see the small things, life is good.”

“I always say God Bless you and God Bless the world, not America, because we are all human beings.”

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iBerkshires.com -- Jim Brown Hoping to Score Social Change -- http://www.iberkshires.com/story/32894/Jim-Brown-Hoping-to-Score-Social-Change.html

The Canadian Press -- Jim Brown Blames NFL, player, for failing to take care of impaired retirees -- http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5jnaOB0yqNCEvJ2rOKdiORqtapL0A

WBZ CBS 38 Boston -- Jim Brown shares Lessons With College Athletes -- http://wbztv.com/newsletter_afternoonupdate/wireapsportsma/Hall.of.Famer.2.1280070.html

Ch. WRBG Schenectady, NY -- Jim Brown Interview -- http://video.cbs6albany.com/m/27156014/jim-brown-interview.htm

North Adams Transcirpt -- Football hero, actor and activist Jim Brown speaks his mind during Williams appearance -- http://www.thetranscript.com/sports/ci_13675448

Berkshire Eagle -- Jim Brown frank in speech at Williams -- http://www.berkshireeagle.com/sports/ci_13673939