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Monday, February 2, 2009
How does Ruben Brown rate in Bills history?


Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Graham

Perennial Pro Bowl guard Ruben Brown announced his retirement Monday night on my friend Brad Riter's radio show on WECK in Buffalo.

While this isn't earth-shattering news -- Brown couldn't get a job in 2008 -- it does bring to an end one of the most decorated careers in Buffalo sports history.

 Brown

"Thirteen years, nine Pro Bowls, two teams, four surgeries ... That's not bad," Brown said.

Brown also is one of my favorite barroom topics in Buffalo because every fan there seems to have a strong opinion of him. He went to eight straight Pro Bowls for the Bills, but many thought he was overrated and found his untimely penalties insufferable.

So where does Brown rank among the all-time great Bills?

He certainly deserves to be on the team's Wall of Fame at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Does his career warrant more? Players with lesser credentials have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

No opinion from me in that last sentence. Just framing the conversation.

Bruce Smith, selected Saturday as a first-ballot Hall of Famer, is the only Bill to have made more Pro Bowl teams than Brown. Jim Kelly and Thurman Thomas went to five apiece. O.J. Simpson was chosen for six. Andre Reed made seven Pro Bowls.

Brown never was an All-Pro and, of course, didn't win a Super Bowl. He arrived too late for the Bills' four consecutive Super Bowl streak. But eventually he did play in one, earning his ninth Pro Bowl selection with the NFC champion Chicago Bears in 2006.

"I was upset that here I was prepared ... and I didn't have any game to go out and test all of that work I've been doing as far as staying in shape and staying flexible out against any other athletes," Brown said.

"But I've already done it against the best. The top guys in the business, the guys that are going down as legends, I played against those guys, and I did all right. They taught me a lesson or two, but I did all right."

You can listen to Riter's interview with Brown, who has a weekly spot on the program. The retirement announcement comes in the second segment, but you can listen to anything Brown has to say and understand why he can leave the game. He has a bright future in broadcasting.