BASN Classics: Jim Brown vs. O.J. Simpson

Updated: September 10, 2016

By Anthony McClean, Editor In Chief Emeritus


NEW HAVEN (BASN) — By the time the 1963 NFL season began, Cleveland’s Jim Brown had already established himself not only as the league’s best running back but the most dominant player in the game.

During the offseason, longtime head coach Paul Brown was fired by owner Art Modell and replaced by Blanton Collier. The move would prove to be very beneficial for the team and the future Hall of Famer.
Brown would lead the league in rushing for the sixth time in the last seven seasons. His 1,863 rushing yards set a league single-season record at the time and it still remains a single-season franchise record.
It would take a decade before anyone would even come close to Brown’s mark.
One year after having his first breakout season, O.J. Simpson would not only break Brown’s mark in 1973 but would make his own history. He became the first back in league history to rush for over 2,000 yards.
While six other men would later eclipse his 2,003-yard campaign, Simpson’s season stands alone because he was able to accomplish the feat in 14 games. While it doesn’t diminish the feat of the others, because it was the first in many ways it stands alone.
To no one’s surprise, both Brown and Simpson were named the league’s MVP during those historic seasons. In many ways, they may have been the two greatest rushing campaigns ever.
Over the next 14 Sundays, BASN will take a look at the signature seasons of Simpson and Brown. If you’re looking for off the field stuff, turn away right now. This is all about football and nothing else.
brown vs washingtonWEEK ONE 1963: Cleveland defeats Washington 37-14
Collier’s emphasis on making Brown even more of the focal point of Cleveland’s offense was on full display in the home opener. Up 10-7 in the second quarter, Brown would take over the game. He took a short pass from Frank Ryan and rambled 83 yards for a score to make it 17-7. Brown would add another score — a 10-yard run — as Cleveland took a 24-7 lead to the locker room. Washington would eventually make a ballgame of it. Former Brown Bobby Mitchell’s 99-yard scoring pass from George Izo would cut the lead to 27-14 in the third quarter. However, Brown’s third score of the day — an 80-yard run — would put the game on ice for Cleveland.
BROWN’S LINE: 15 carries, 162 yards, two TDs. Three catches, 100 yards, TD.
o_j_simpson_1973_09_16WEEK ONE 1973: Buffalo defeats New England 31-13.
The “Juice” was truly on the loose in the season opener at Schaeffer Stadium. Simpson would set a then-NFL single-game record with 250 rushing yards, breaking the previous record of 247 held by the Rams’ Willie Ellison in 1971. He scored two touchdowns, including an 80-yard jaunt in the first quarter. Simpson added a 22-yard scoring run that put the game out of reach in the fourth quarter. Buffalo also got a huge performance from tailback Larry Watkins who added 105 yards on 18 carries and two scores. Ironically, the Bills had gone winless (0-6) during the preseason. The loss spoiled the pro head coaching debut of New England’s Chuck Fairbanks.
SIMPSON’S LINE: 29 carries, 250 yards, two TDs.
Anthony McClean can be reached via email at

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