By Gil Brandt
NFL.com Senior Analyst
Special to Profootballhof.com
(July 21, 2004) -- Bob Brown was one of the first really big, fast men to play in the NFL. In the spring of 1963, he was 6-foot-3 3/8, a whopping 273 pounds and ran 4.81 on a grass surface. This was in a time when 240 pounds was considered big, and here he was 30 pounds heavier and running very well. Players played both ways in college back then, and Brown lined up at guard and linebacker. His nickname was "Boomer" for his amazing hits and ability.
Brown was surprisingly light on his feet. He had tremendous quickness and athletic ability for a guy his size. I watched him practice on Sept. 25, 1963 and was floored. When looking at film of him playing at linebacker, he made an interception against Oklahoma State and ran it back for a touchdown. Now this didn't look like Keith Traylor did a few years back running an interception back; this was a man who made the play and ran away from people. It's no wonder he's a part of the College Football Hall of Fame both as an offensive lineman and linebacker.
On Nov. 24, 1963, the Cowboys were set to play the Browns in Cleveland. In those days, I was not only a talent scout but also a recruiter because we were fighting teams from the AFL for players. So on the 23rd, I took a cab and went up to Brownie's Store on Quincy Ave. in Cleveland -- Bob's father's grocery store, which happened to be near Brown's high school (Cleveland East Tech). There were no agents then -- players represented themselves -- and we were considering drafting Brown with our first pick in the NFL draft, which was the following Monday. So the clock was ticking for us.
|Notes from an actual scouting report Gil Brandt wrote on Brown for Dallas: |
|Brown measured up at 6-foot-3 3/8, 273 pounds and ran a 4.81 in the 40-yard dash on a grass surface. ... This is the most impressive physical specimen I have seen since working for the Cowboys at the college level. He has everything that you want and need to be a good player. ... Having a personal conversation with him, I was really impressed with his values in life. |
So I went to Mr. Brown's store and spoke about the Cowboys and what a great future we had. Eventually, I asked Brown's father, "If we were to draft your son, what would it take to sign him?"
His answer was very quick: "Four on the floor with a lot of green in the back!"
I said, "Does that mean he wants a stick-shift automobile with a trunk full of cash?" Mr. Brown said I was absolutely right. We had a very good conversation, and in all probability at that time, Brown was going to be our first pick.
Bob Brown was a giant problem for opponents during his career.
I got Mr. Brown a sideline pass for our game against Cleveland. Of course, I told Coach Tom Landry about this and how I was going to introduce him to Brown after the game. We lost 27-17 but the game was closer than the score suggested, so Landry wasn't in any sort of good mood. After Landry spoke with the media (only about seven or eight reporters back then), I introduced him to Brown's father. Landry changed gears from disappointed football coach to energetic recruiter and told Brown he hoped we were lucky enough to draft him. To that Mr. Brown replied, "Well coach, if you would have had my Brownie out there today, you wouldn't have lost." Coach started chuckling after that comment.
On Dec. 2, 1963, the Eagles selected Brown with the second overall pick in the draft. This was a double whammy for us -- not only did we come up short (we drafted sixth overall), but he went to a division rival, and that meant playing against him twice a year. To show you how desirable Brown was, he was the highest guard selected out of college in the NFL draft and he was Denver's pick in the AFL Draft that same year -- and it spent the No. 1 overall pick on him.
Brown became a right tackle in the NFL and was a pillar of strength for years. In one game, the Eagles were playing Washington and Philadelphia left tackle Charlie Cowens was having a terrible day. So all of a sudden, here comes Brown moving from right tackle to left tackle and he dominated. When I found out the Eagles traded Brown in 1969, I was elated until I realized he was going to Los Angeles to play with the Rams. That was the team we scrimmaged against during every single training camp, and that made it tough on our defensive line. During his career, Brown played in six Pro Bowls for three different teams -- the Eagles, Rams and Raiders.
There were all kinds of stories of things Brown did as a player. His most famous one was when he forearmed a goalpost and broke it! That's a pretty clear example of just how strong Brown was. He was a gruff guy, but I'd say he was a mellow guy as well. When I spoke with him recently, he told me that he always liked the way I signed my name, which was an interesting comment from Brown. Perhaps it was that attention to detail that made him such a great player. Brown suffered several knee ailments throughout his career and tore up his knee in a game at New Orleans. His career would have been a lot longer with today's modern medicine.
His son, Robert Brown, is presenting him into the Hall. He's an attorney for the city of Los Angeles, another living testament to Bob Brown.
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