Pro Football Hall of Fame Field at Fawcett Stadium
Sunday August 8, 2004
ROBERT BROWN JR: Thank you all very much. It hardly seems fair that I have to follow Regis and Carl Eller, that was a fantastic speech. But before I get started, let me share something with you. I'm going to state the obvious. I'm standing here in Canton, Ohio with all of you beautiful people about to honor the man that I love more than I love myself for achieving the pinnacle of his profession. Does it get any better than this? The answer to that is no, it does not. It truly does not.
As Mr. Berman just mentioned, my father's journey started just across the road here in Cleveland, Ohio as an overweight eighth grader decided that he wanted to play some football. Well, by conventional standards he came to the game late, he didn't receive much support and encouragement, and as a matter of fact in many quarters that decision was met with ridicule. But, was that fine because he wanted to play football and so that's what he did.
Now, in the early going, because he did come to the game late, he took his lumps, he was knocked down by players with more experience but that was fine. It was hard, but it was fair. Each time he was knocked down, he got back up because even then he possessed an almost unnatural determination, a competitive fire, and a competitive nature that was second to none. So, he labored on. And, then something happened. He got better. By the time he got to East Tech High School in Cleveland, he was a standout. By the time he got to college, perennial All-American. Then, by 1964, it was time for the big show, also known as the NFL. By ?? of his hard work, his discipline, and his commitment, his football and athletic skills had long since caught up to his tremendous heart and the "Boomer" was born and the "Boomer" was ready to play. He was ready.
And let me tell you folks, please believe me when I tell you, he was a sight to behold. Six-feet-four-inches, 295 pounds of sheer mayhem. As an offensive lineman, he could do it all. And, once more, he could do it all in devastating fashion. For those of you all out there in the audience who know and understand the intricacies of line play in the NFL, he could lead sweeps, he could trap block, hold block, area block, cross block. You name it, he could take his man inside, outside, straight back, or straight down. All you had to do was tell the "Boomer" what you wanted and he would give it to you. The only way, the only way I can describe his style is to say that it was beautifully relentless. He was a wondrous blend of speed, power, agility, and quickness. Always on the attack, always making contact, always inflicting punishment – pure unadulterated, unbridled intensity and aggression for sixty minutes – play in, play out, no rest, no relief.
And, for all of his athletic and football skills, that isn't even what impresses me most. What impresses me most about the "Boomer" is his heart, his mental toughness, his tenacity, his supreme self confidence, and a work ethic second to none. Because, you see the "Boomer" knew a few things. He knew that the will must be stronger than the body. He knew that confidence is the product of preparation. He knew there could be no greatness without sacrifice, and that there could be no victory without pain. So, pain while if not his friend, was certainly his constant companion, and he turned that to his advantage. He used it as a way to test the limits of his endurance, to constantly push his body beyond his limits. 'I'm hurt but I going to run another wind sprint. I'm hurt but put another weight on the bar because I'm going to put it up. I’m hurt but I'm going to put my hand in the dirt and I'm going to take that snap.'
The bottom line is this – in the attrition that is line play in the NFL, he was determined to be the last man standing. He went at his opponents like his life depended on it and knowing him as I do, maybe it did. But, he was determined to be the last man standing, and for 10 years he was. And, in a game – a tough game with tough men, none can any tougher than Bob "Boomer" Brown.
Now, my father's career has taught me many life lessons and I've learned many lessons also through my relationship with him. And so, as I get set to close my speech, I just want to let you all know that I'm here – I honor him as great athlete yes – but, I also honor him as a father and a man.
Dad, I would thank you for everything that you've done for me. I realize that everything that you've done in order to better yourself, you've done for me. You ran those wind sprints for me, you pushed those weights up for me, you hit and got hit for me. Everything that I have is directly attributable to you. Daddy, I thank you for teaching me what is important in life. You taught me that the talent or the size of the opposition doesn't matter. Game conditions don't matter. My own pain or fatigue doesn't matter. The accolades and the roar of the crowd, though nice, don't matter. The only things that matter are the pursuit of excellence and pride of performance on a consistent basis.
Daddy, I thank you for being the ultimate role model for me as we sit here today, or stand here today, this has been the culmination of a long journey. I've obviously not been with you for all of it, but I've seen the sweat, the toil, and the pain that you've endured as you made that journey, and never once did you waver, never once did you stumble, never once did you compromise your principles, and as a matter of fact, you overwhelmed every challenge and obstacle that was put before you.
For me to say that I'm proud of you does not do our relationship justice, does not do you justice, and it is a gross – a gross – understatement. At the age of 37, I regard you with the same awe and admiration as I did when I was 7. You set the bar very high and I probably will never reach it but I aspire to be the man that you are. And, let me thank you once again for allowing me to not just share in this moment – because it would have been enough just to be here – but to actively participate in it and to hold the door open for you as you cross into the threshold of immorality.
I will now tell you publicly what I've told you privately many times. Before you there was none, after you there shall be no other. I admire you. I adore you. I respect you. And, I love you.
As I prepare to close, I would also like to thank the city of Canton. I've been overwhelmed with the welcome that I've received, the warmth, and the kindness has truly touched my heart. You have embraced me and my family and we certainly embrace you right back. As far as I'm concerned, Canton is my adopted home. I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the NFL alumni here for again welcoming us with open arms. I hope I've not embarrassed myself too badly in approaching all of these great players. I have to say, though, it's been extremely intoxicating to be in a room with so much greatness. And, I'd like to thank them as a fan of the game for their athletic performances, and I would also like to thank them for their approachability, and for their graciousness.
As far as I'm concerned, on this stage we have the greatest athletes – I'm not just talking about football – of any era.
Without any further adieu, however, let me get back to the best football player I have ever seen in my young life.
Member of the Class of 2004 – seven-time All-Pro, three-time NFL lineman of the year, the best offensive lineman I have ever seen, my father – and I like that so much I'm going to say that part again – my father Bob "Boomer" Brown.
Dad, come up here and claim was is rightfully yours.
BOB "BOOMER" BROWN: My son, and I love him. I would like to say thank you to the city of Canton, the people here for showing such great hospitality since I've been here. I would like to thank the over 3,000-plus behind the scenes volunteers who've made this the crown jewel of my sports experience.
I would like to thank my family whose support was absolutely necessary for me to reach this most magnificent moment in time. I would like to thank my mom and dad for the great gene pool (laughter) that they provided, and the unwavering verbal, moral, and spiritual support that was always there and so freely and lovingly given.
My football career started in a very inconspicuous way. Started as an eighth grader, as a student in Empire Jr. High School in Cleveland. There really was anything special about my play but that was the beginning of my love affair with the game. From there it was off to East Tech High School, a school that was primarily known for track, and its basketball prowess – where I was not a star, at best, maybe I was slightly better than an average player. My son who loves me exaggerates. As a senior I was noticed by Warren Schmakel, who was the freshman coach at the University of Nebraska. I was offered and accepted an athletic scholarship, and this exposed me to an academic and athletic college program that I think is best in the country, along with the special caveat to play for, in my opinion, the greatest teacher, football college coach ever – Bobby Devaney. Thus beginning my pro football journey.
I signed with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1964 where Joe Kuharich was not only my head coach but he was also like a second father to me, a man I respected and I loved. My line coach in Philadelphia was Dick Stanfel who was also been nominated to this Hall of Fame and I hope one day he will be enshrined. Coach Stanfel was an All-Pro guard for the Detroit Lions, and an absolute genius tactician of line play. He encouraged my super aggressive Def Con 5- style and he helped me to develop my unorthodox line stance. As a rookie, I brought to the Eagles desire to win, the need to be the best, an uncompromising work ethic to accomplish both. Coach Stanfel taught me how to take the talents that I brought to the Eagles and forged it into a workable tool that ultimately placed me here today.
My next stop – the Los Angeles Rams, which gave me an opportunity to play with three future Hall of Famers: offensive guard Tom Mack, defensive tackle Merlin Olsen, and defensive end Deacon Jones. What really made the Ram experience so good was that every day I had the opportunity to work with and against arguably the greatest defensive end ever, Deacon Jones. Each day, I knew I had to bring my "A" game to practice. I also knew that working against a great defensive end like Deacon would surely help me develop my abilities to become a better offensive tackle. My thinking being 'if it doesn't kill me the process will certainly make me stronger.' I'll say a special thank you to Deacon because what he did helped lead me to this very fantastic place. I love you for it, I love you for it. But Deac, did you have to be so rough?
My final stop was the Oakland Raiders. I'd like to thank Mr. Al Davis for trading for me and giving me an opportunity to play with the greatest, wildest, and most talented group of mixed nuts ever assembled anywhere. The football gods were kind to afford me that opportunity. Every player whose played in the National Football League should have had an opportunity to play for the '70s Raiders and Coach John Madden, a coach who is long overdue to be enshrined in this great Hall of Fame. Coach Madden and my Raider teammates made the closing out of my career wonderful, crazy, happy time for me. I'm proud and privileged to be able to have my name mentioned along with four great Raider Hall of Fame lineman – Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, Jim Otto, and Ron Mix. Better has not been born yet. I can't begin to express the honor, and pride that I feel to have been associated with these men.
To my new Hall of Fame brothers, I became a player but I've always been a fan. All you guys are heroes to me. I'm thrilled and eager to embrace you – my band of brothers. I'd like to close by saying, I like to plea to the Hall of Fame selection committee to please remember three deserving greats – Coach John Madden; Claude Humphrey of the Atlanta Falcons, defensive end extraordinaire; and L.C. Greenwood, one of the best of the best.
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