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Perhaps the most historically significant football document to come to auction if not in existence, this two-page letter - dated July 5, 1966 - is written by Jim Brown to Mr. Arthur Modell, embattled owner of the Cleveland Browns. Brown is notifying the Browns of his shocking decision to retire after only nine record-smashing NFL seasons. It begins, "I am writing to inform you that in the next few days I will be announcing my retirement from Football. This decision is final and is made only because of the future that I desire for myself, my family, and if not to sound corny my race." He goes on to speak passionately about trying to work things out to play another year and continues with some scorn, "I was very sorry to see you make the statements that you did, because it was not a victory for you or I but for the newspaper men. Fortunately, I seem to have a little more faith in you then you have in me." Brown was angry with statements that Modell had made in the press. There's much more content of significance, discussing his movie career among other things. He lays out the importance of the shooting schedule. The letter is signed "Your Friend Jim." Comes with original envelope postmarked from London where he was shooting the classic "The Dirty Dozen." This letter defines once and for all the pivotal role his film career (and this classic film specifically) played in his retirement decision. The letter is lightly folded, otherwise NM.
Comes with additional letter critical to this important lot. Framed in this 19x42" display is the spark that ignited the fire and dated 6/16/66, a few scant weeks before Jim Brown sent this retirement reply. Modell is threatening suspension without pay for failing to show for training camp at Hiram College. It is an angry statement, made by an obviously frustrated team owner.
We have never seen anything like this in all our years. The actual retirement letter and the move that sparked it for a player considered by most to be the greatest of all time. And the venerable Sporting News agreed, naming him the greatest professional football player ever.
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