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Pick up your own copy of Running Against The Grain: The Story of Philadelphia Eagle and Movie Star Timmy Brown at Amazon, or at the Official Ball State University Bookstore (with local pick up available).




A must-read for those who want insight into growing up black in Indiana in the 1950’s. Timmy Brown was the most famous football player ever to graduate from Ball State University (BSU) in Muncie, Indiana. He went on to be a National Football League (NFL) legend for the Philadelphia Eagles and later a gifted entertainer and a Hollywood movie star. This well-written book describes Timmy’s struggle with racism in a state that was a 20th-century leader in its KKK membership The book highlights the NFL’s unequal treatment of Black athletes in this era. There was, however, a cadre of friends including the BSU president who gave Timmy lifetime support. For me, as an educator and graduate of BSU, I find the biography one of hope given a backdrop of poverty and discrimination.

– William Hatcher, retired superintendent, Kern High School District, Bakersfield, California

In this first biography of Philadelphia Eagles star Timmy Brown (1937-2020), the authors not only tell the engaging story of Timmy’s career as a professional athlete, singer, model and actor but also provide a window into the tumultuous period of the Civil Rights movement, in which Timmy Brown was a pioneer and role model for young Black men.

The highly detailed biography is not a hagiography. The authors make clear that Timmy had no success as a professional singer and only limited success as an actor. His charismatic personality and self- confidence, however, shine through the pages, and he was able to make and keep lifelong friends, including some of the world’s most famous people, including singers Chubby Checker, Dionne Warwick and Diana Ross. The authors do not hesitate, however, to explore his failed marriage and difficult relationship with many of his family members. His son and former wife’s dedication to him during his final years of poor health is, nevertheless, a testament to his ability to form lasting attachments.

The book is also a snapshot of a turning point in American history, an era in which Blacks emerged from second-class citizenship to full legal equality. As Timmy pointed out in a 2010 visit to Ball State, when he joined the Green Bay Packers in 1959 there was an unwritten rule that no pro football team could have more than three Black players.

The appeal of this biography is its foundation on fourteen years of original research. The authors interviewed not only Timmy himself several times but also twenty-five people who played important roles in his life from his childhood through his sports and entertainment careers. They also read numerous documents, including material stored in multiple boxes in Timmy’s storage unit and condo in California. Given the passage of time, no future biographers of football great Timmy Brown will have personal access to those who knew him best. Running Against the Grain will remain the definitive biography of Timmy Brown for decades to come.

– Kenneth Holland, retired Professor of Political Science, Ball State University