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Best First Efforts...?


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  • #16
    Jim Brown? What if Decathlete?

    For those of you who might say "who in heck was Bobby Mitchell?" (the man with whom Jim Brown generally raced even in training camp dashes):

    Bobby Mitchell, Hot Springs, Ark.
    Set U.S. best in indoor 70-yard hurdles at Illinois in 1958; led NFL in receiving yards in '62 and '63.


    • #17
      Re: Jim Brown? What if Decathlete?

      Let's not do for Jim Brown what we've managed to do for Wilt Chamberlain, Johnny Mathis, et al.

      Brown's first appearance in the AAU decathlon was, indeed, in Atlantic City. But that was in 1954, and it was following his freshman year at Syracuse. Brown did finish 10th (5029). The next year, 1955, Brown finished 5th in Crawfordsville, In. (5563).

      As for the favorable comparison to Rafer Johnson, that's a stretch. In 1954, Johnson was a high school senior and finished 3rd (5874). But he was beaten by another high schooler, Aubrey Lewis, who was 2nd (6118). (Bob Richards won, 6501.)

      Here are the marks for Lewis, Johnson and Brown:
      AL \ RJ \JB
      11.0 \ 11.1 \ 11.4
      21-1 \ 20-7 \ 19-8 3/4
      39-7 \ 39-7 1/2 \ 39-7 1/2 (yes, these are correct!)
      5-5 1/4 \ 5-9 3/4 \ 5-9 3/4
      49.1 \ 51.5 \ 56.3
      15.9 \ 15.5 \ 18.4
      152-4 \ 122-7 1/2 \ 132-8
      9-0 \ 11-4 \ 10-0
      164-9 \ 163-9 1/2 \ 154-11
      5:00.6 \ 5:29.6 \ 5:01.6

      Brown spent the spring (probably) playing freshman lacrosse and spring football rather than running track. Oddly, the events I would have expected him to be best trained for from lacrosse and football - the 100, 400 and LJ - left him behind both high school kids.

      There's nothing here to suggest that Brown was faster than Johnson in the sprint-type events, even if one discounts the hurdles as a technical event. And if he's not faster than Johnson, he's certainly not faster than Campbell.

      Brown stronger than Johnson and Campbell? Yes, it looks like you can make a good case for that.

      By the way, two other finishers (relating to other threads): 5, Joel Shankle (a Duke teammate of Dave Sime in '55); 11, Stan Huntsman (Tennessee coach in '70s and '80s), as well as 4, Jim Podoley (later a running back for da Bears.)


      • #18
        Re: Jim Brown? What if Decathlete?

        You cannot compare the time aspiring Olympians Johnson, Lewis and Campbell devoted to the decathlon than that of Brown. And the '54 event was his very first, no h.s. background like the others (or Bobby Mathias before him).

        I bet if C.K. Yang was giving Johnson all he wanted in 1960, a Jim Brown who was strictly a track man from '57 to '60 (or '54-'60)would have been a Daley Thompson-type competitor. His lack of NFL injuries demonstrated he had the stamina. His times and distances would have improved, and w/ coaching (those guys later had "Ducky" Drake, technique would have made him a better jumper/thrower.



        • #19
          Re: Jim Brown? What if Decathlete?

          I can't compare them? I thought I did, at least to the extent your earlier comments elicited.

          Obviously we're disagreeing about potential. But you said Brown was faster than Johnson and Campbell. I don't think you can back that up. The link to Bobby Mitchell isn't sufficient to make the stretch to beating Campbell or Johnson.

          Okay, Johnson was an Olympic aspirant as early as 1954. But the fact is, the 1954 AAU decathlon was the first dec for either of them. (It was the second dec - 1953 AAU being the first - for Lewis.) And let's not discount the fact that Brown is a year older and more developed physically than the two high school guys who beat him.

          Great as he was in football, let Brown rest, content with the feeling that he was the best running back ever. He may well have been the best lacrosse player ever, as well. But I certainly won't go so far as to say he would have outscored Rafer Johnson, who may have been the greatest decathlete - or most talented, you pick - ever (see other threads).


          • #20
            Jim Brown? What if Decathlete?

            Nor did I say he would have beaten him. I said it was a great first effort, and many have wondered what he could have accomplished with complete dedication to the decathlon, with individual event coaching. It's just a speculation like the dream relays on these posts, the match races that never were, the '40 Olympics, et al. Just fun.



            • #21
              Re: Best First Efforts...?

              "Emil Zatopek's Olympic record victory in the marathon at Helsinki on 27 July 1952 comes to mind. He was reported as telling his fellow runners during the race that he was unsure of the pace because he had not previously run a marathon." ......

              You left out my favorite part of the story. emil asked one competitor if the pace was quick enough (they were already on record pace), and the other guy though he was kidding and replied (sarcasticaly) "No, its awful slow" and so Emil picked up the pace and left everyone else in the dust.