Willie Brown Oakland Raiders & Denver Broncos
"My job was not catching passes. My job was to stop the receiver from catching it. If I could have played 15 or 20 years without an interception, that would have been fine. Anything beyond stopping a receiver, that’s gravy.”
Willie Brown's career with the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders spanned 16 seasons and 204 games from 1963 through 1978. Even though the Broncos were not successful on the playing field during Willie’s four years in Denver, the 6-1, 195-pound cornerback was already an established star by the time he was traded to the Raiders in 1967.
With a perpetually contending team in Oakland, Willie's outstanding abilities emerged into clear focus. During his 12 years in Oakland, the Raiders played in three AFL and six AFC championship games, as well as Super Bowls II and XI. Armed with speed, mobility, aggressiveness, determination and a keen football sense, Brown became a key figure in every Raider success and soon was widely acclaimed as one of the premier cornerbacks of all time.
Willie, who was born December 2, 1940, in Yazoo City, Mississippi, was an excellent end for four years at Grambling but was not drafted when his college career ended in 1963. He was signed by the Houston Oilers as a free agent but cut before the end of summer camp. He then went to Denver where he became a starter midway into his rookie season. A year later, he intercepted four passes against the New York Jets to tie an all-time individual record, won All-AFL honors, and played in his first AFL All-Star game, where he was named the outstanding defensive player.
Altogether, Brown was named to an all-league team seven years, three seasons as All-AFL and four more as All-NFL. He was named All-AFC four times. He also played in five AFL All-Star games and four Pro Bowls. During his career, he intercepted 54 passes, which he returned for 472 yards and two touchdowns. His biggest steal, however, came in Super Bowl XI, when he returned an interception 75 yards for a clinching touchdown.