Superman’s Feet Of Clay

James Wolcott does a deep dive into the legend of Jim Brown, NFL superstar, activist, and erstwhile movie actor: ‘In 1966, at the top of his game, to the shock of the sports world and the lamentation of fans, Brown quit pro football. He had been cast in Robert Aldrich’s The Dirty Dozen as one of the hard-ass incorrigibles and bug-eyed crazies recruited for a suicide mission. (Brown had made one previous film, the western Rio Conchos, and had gotten a hankering to be the black John Wayne.) With the production of The Dirty

Dozen behind schedule in Britain and the next NFL season fast approaching, Browns owner Art Modell made the mistake of turning an owner–player dispute into a public test of Brown’s manhood. Modell ordered Brown to report to training camp on the set date or receive suspension without pay and a $100 a day fine. “Everything comes back to his manhood,” says former sports columnist Robert Lipsyte, who was reporting on the filming of The Dirty Dozen at the time.

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