​Lacrosse on the offense

"Stick to it" is what all aspiring Lacrosse players are urged to do -- not that they necessarily have to stick to just that one sport. Mo Rocca has been doing some field research:

In 1964 Jim Brown led the Cleveland Browns to the NFL championship title. Brown is considered one of greatest football players who ever lived. But you probably knew that.

But what a lot of people don't know is that Brown was also a pioneer in lacrosse.

"Well, I just found that out talking to you today," Brown laughed. "I never thought of it that way!

"It was a fascinating game because of the nature of the game, the speed and combination of strength and power and skill," he said.

Football (and lacrosse) great Jim Brown with correspondent Mo Rocca. CBS News

In lacrosse players armed with sticks run, throw, and battle their way downfield. The game is played fast and furious.

It was first played by Native Americans hundreds of years ago. Their sticks were made of wood, and heavy -- carrying rocks instead of balls.

Today the sticks are lightweight titanium, but the game is no less challenging.

Brown demonstrated a "cradle": "The cradle is a rocking motion. So the ball sits right here and it doesn't move when you rock it."

"Oh, I see," said Rocca. "So 'Rock-a-Bye Baby' -- wow. Okay, did I do that right?"


Brown picked up the game in high school in Manhasset, New York. At Syracuse University he dominated in football, basketball, track ... and lacrosse. Brown is in both the NFL and Lacrosse Halls of Fame.

Rocca asked, "If there had been pro lacrosse back then, do you think you might've ended up playing that?"

"I might've flipped a coin," Brown laughed.

What a difference a half-century makes. Today, college scholarships, bona fide lacrosse stars and, yes, two pro leagues have helped make America's oldest team sport its fastest-growing team sport, with participation tripling in the past decade.

If the sport has a sweet spot in popularity, it would be along America's East Coast, where it became popular in the late 1800s at elite colleges like Harvard, Princeton and Yale.

Lacrosse is the fastest-growing team sport in America. CBS News

At Baltimore's Boys' Latin prep school, lacrosse has been played since 1929. Bob Shriver has been head coach for 35 years.

"It's hard to describe," he told Rocca. "Once you start playing, honestly it gets in your blood.

"I think kids like activity, and lacrosse is definitely active."