Braxton during his collegiate career at West Virginia.
|Date of birth:||May 23, 1949|
|Place of birth:||Vanderbilt, PA|
|Date of death:||July 28, 1986|
|NFL Draft:||1971 / Round: 3 / Pick 57|
Career highlights and awards
|Honors:||Associated Press First-Team All-American (1970)|
Jim Braxton started playing college football at West Virginia University in 1967 and was the team's second leading rusher (272 yards) in his sophomore season in 1968. In his junior season, he rushed for a team best 843 yards and helped the team become Peach Bowl champions. He also was talented as a kicker. As a senior, he converted to tight end, catching 27 passes for 565 yards and eight touchdowns and that was good enough for first team All-American honors.
Drafted in the third round by the Buffalo Bills in the 1971 NFL Draft, he was needed not as the leading rusher, but the blocking weapon for star running back O. J. Simpson. As Simpson remarks, most of his 11,236 career rushing yards were due to Braxton.
Braxton's career took off in 1972, his sophomore season in the league, when he rushed for 453 yards on 116 attempts with 5 touchdowns and caught 24 receptions for 232 yards and a score. The following season, Braxton rushed for 494 yards on 108 attempts with 4 touchdowns, while only catching 6 passes for 101 yards. In 1974, Braxton became a premiere runner alongside Simpson, rushing for 543 yards on 146 carries with 4 touchdowns.
In his 1975 season he rushed for 823 yards and nine touchdowns, which he considered his best season. He also caught 26 passes for 282 yards and 4 touchdowns. His nine rushing touchdowns was 8th in the league, and his 13 all-purpose scores was 5th.
In the 1976 season he ended it with a knee injury and rushed for 372 yards and a touchdown during the 1977 season. He played half of the 1978 season with the Bills, rushing for 73 yards, and then finished out his NFL career in the second half of the 1978 season with the Miami Dolphins, rushing for 48 yards and two touchdowns.
For his career, Braxton rushed for 2,890 yards on 741 attempts with 25 touchdowns. His receiving totals were 1,473 yards on 144 receptions with 6 touchdowns, for 31 career all-purpose touchdowns.
Jim Braxton died on July 28, 1986 due to cancer, at the age of 37. He died at Roswell Park Cancer Institute in Buffalo, New York where he was undergoing treatment. He is survived by his wife, Pam, and two sons.
O.J. Simpson offered these goodbye words to Braxton: "I've lost a teammate; I've lost a dear friend. Bubby was my protector on the field, my companion off it. What he meant to my career is impossible to calculate, but I know many of the things I achieved wouldn't have been possible without him."
- Jim Braxton at Pro-Football-Reference.com