Doc Five: The best two-sport college football/basketball players – No. 1, Jim Brown

This offseason we will count down various topics from Monday through Friday, bringing you the top five of the important and definitely some not so important issues in college football. It's the Doc Five, every week until we will thankfully have actual games to discuss.



Jim Brown might be the best football player ever. I'd pick Jerry Rice, but if you argued it was Brown, I couldn't put up much of a fight.

Brown is considered by some to be the best lacrosse player ever. This I won't bother arguing, I'll just have to take people's words for that one.

Then there's this: Brown averaged 13.1 points per game for Syracuse's basketball team in his two seasons with the Orange.

Brown didn't play basketball as a senior. He was going to be a backup, and the story that has been told is Brown felt that was because the Orange had two black starters already and there was an unwritten rule against having three. That story was also told in the book "Legends of Syracuse Basketball," by longtime Syracuse beat writer Mike Waters.

"Jim quit the team," Vinnie Cohen said in the book. "He said, 'I don't need that. I'm going to play football. I don't need basketball.'"

And, well, that turned out to be very true. Whatever the reason behind Brown not playing basketball as a senior, the other long-told story surrounding his absence is that it might have cost Syracuse a Final Four berth, and maybe more.

Syracuse went 18-7 and made the NCAA tournament for the first time. The Orange lost 67-58 to North Carolina in the East Region final. It wouldn't have hurt having Brown in that game.

"We always got a good 14 points from Jim Brown," Cohen said in "Legends of Syracuse Basketball." "Who knows?"

"Jim might have made a difference," teammate Manny Breland said. "They might be talking about us now."

Yes, maybe the great running back Jim Brown could have also been a part of a NCAA championship basketball team. He was good enough in basketball for Syracuse (and was a great high school player, too) that the "what if?" is legit.

Brown, who was also a standout in track at Syracuse, was the type of freak athlete who could just pick up anything and excel. It just so happened that football and basketball were two of his choices.

Previously on the Doc Five:
No. 5, Jackie Robinson
No. 4, Tony Gonzalez
No. 3, Terry Baker
No. 2, Charlie Ward

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