It’s hard to describe Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady without diving straight into superlatives. With Brady alone covering two decades of NFL history, and Mahomes the established face of the league’s future, the quarterbacks’ active presence has a way of erasing the past. It makes a sort of sense, given their habits of setting new standards for the level of play.
But there are some records that neither quarterback has managed — some they never will. The Hall of Fame stands in Canton for a reason, enshrining the greatness of the past even if the press of today has long since moved on. In those record books, you’ll find players like Jim Brown, who hold nigh insurmountable records, including one that literally no other player has achieved.
Patrick Mahomes and Tom Brady have accomplished so much but fall short in one way
Mahomes and Brady both embarked on their NFL journeys as undervalued draft picks. The NFL undervalued Brady, of course, far more than most obvious Hall of Fame candidates. Alongside Ben Roethlisberger, they’re on a list of quarterbacks who led their teams to Super Bowl wins at 24 or younger, according to Sports Illustrated.
The Kansas City Chiefs star will have to prove himself in terms of repeating his feat, of course. Brady himself won his seventh against the young Mahomes. Meanwhile, as an individual performer, Mahomes set the all-time NFL record for the most passing yards in 50 games. Neither has apparently reached the ceiling of achievements. But it is fullback Jim Brown who holds a record so singular that, logistically, neither of today’s two top QBs can ever match.
Jim Brown did the one thing Mahomes and Brady never will
Brown is sometimes more noted for his later career as an actor or his many years generating tabloid drama. Before all that, he was one of the most talented football players at any position. It was a talent he developed as soon as he joined the Cleveland Browns in 1957, earning him the NFL MVP award in his first season.
For all the raw talent and hard work Mahomes and Brady exhibit, they had to develop as NFL players before truly debuting as the best at their position. Not so for Brown. According to The Cold Wire, he rushed for 942 yards. He ran in nine touchdowns on the ground. He caught 16 passes. This, as a rookie player across a short 12-game season.
It was an immediate disruption to the status quo of the league. He was the clear MVP, so clearly above and beyond what anyone else had done. Walter Payton wouldn’t break Brown’s 12,312 rushing yards record until 1984, The Undefeated reports. And that, of course, at a time where Payton had more games per year to work his magic.
Brown’s legacy on and off the field serves as both an inspiration and a warning for current NFL stars
Brown only won the Super Bowl once during his career. He retired in 1965, surprising NFL fans, given how great he still looked on the gridiron. He made up for his nine empty ring fingers with a vibrant post-NFL career as a commentator and actor. His meager earnings from football have been heavily subsidized to the tune of an estimated $50 million total net worth.
He appeared in films, TV, and commercials from the 1960s onward. He stands utterly alone in making his case for NFL MVP in his first year. So why isn’t he talked about more?
Unlike Brady and Mahomes, who have maintained sterling public reputations, Brown had repeated run-ins with the law over the years. His legacy still stands, indelible as it is. But he also serves as a warning to players looking to maintain their standing in the public’s eye well after retirement.