Willie Brown, 1940-2019

Willie Brown, 1940-2019

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Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Brown passed at the age of 78.

Legendary cornerback Willie Brown starred with the Denver Broncos and Oakland Raiders for 16 seasons and 204 games from 1963 through 1978. He established himself as one of the game’s finest defensive backs during a career that earned him a bronzed bust in Canton, Ohio in 1984. Brown played in three AFL and six AFC championship games, as well as Super Bowls II and XI during his 12 years with the Raiders. His memorable then Super Bowl record 75-yard interception return for a touchdown in Oakland’s Super Bowl XI victory is a moment etched into NFL history.

“The entire Hall of Fame family mourns the loss of a great man,” stated Hall of Fame President David Baker. “Willie Brown was the epitome of the Raiders’ motto of ‘commitment to excellence’ that was integral to the team’s sustained success. He embodied virtues like passion, integrity, perseverance and always led by example. His character, on and off the field, made all those around him better. His legacy will be preserved forever in Canton, Ohio to inspire generations of fans.”

Brown enjoyed a great collegiate career while playing for iconic head coach Eddie Robinson at Grambling. Yet, he went undrafted in both the AFL and NFL before signing with the Houston Oilers who eventually cut him. He 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, earned All-AFL honors, and played in his first AFL All-Star Game, where he was named the outstanding defensive player.

Brown was named all-league seven seasons (All-AFL three times and All-NFL four times). He also played in five AFL All-Star games and four Pro Bowls. In all, he intercepted 54 passes, which he returned for 472 yards and two touchdowns.

During his playing career, Brown worked in the off-season for the Shell Oil Company in both public and employee relations. However, when his playing career ended, Brown’s love for the game could not be denied and he rejoined the Raiders as an assistant coach. He worked with the Raiders’ in a variety of positions over the years and was currently serving on the team’s football operations staff.

The Hall of Fame flags on the Hall’s campus are being flown at half-staff in memory of Brown.


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