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Thursday, June 10, 2004
Brown was one of the first big, mobile linemen
ESPN.com news services
Hall of Famer Rosey Brown, one of three offensive tackles named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team and a 27th-round draft choice of the New York Giants who went to nine Pro Bowls, died Wednesday at his home in New Jersey, apparently of a heart attack. He was 71.
Brown and guard Jim Parker, another member of the 75th Anniversary team, were contemporaries in the '50s and '60s and the first two strictly offensive linemen elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Parker, primarily a guard, was inducted in 1973; Brown in '75.
Parker and Brown were perhaps the first two huge-yet-mobile offensive linemen, and they were members of the opposing teams in perhaps the greatest game ever played, the Colts' 23-17 overtime victory over the Giants for the 1958 championship.
By current standards Brown does not seem that large. He was 6-foot-3, 255 pounds, but on the other hand, he reputedly had a 29-inch waist that made him much more sculpted than today's more rotund linemen.
Roosevelt Brown was drafted out of Morgan State in 1953 by the Giants, who late in the draft noticed his name in a copy of the Pittsburgh Courier, a weekly African-American newspaper that had picked him for its 1952 Black All-American team.
Brown went on to be the Giants starting offensive right tackle for 13 seasons and to be picked as an All-Pro for eight straight seasons. He was a superb pass blocker for quarterbacks Charlie Conerly and Y.A. Tittle and an outstanding run blocker, pulling out to block on sweeps for Alex Webster and Frank Gifford.
"Rosie is a Hall of Fame player, and I wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame if it weren't for him," former Giants halfback and flanker Frank Gifford said.
"Our two favorite plays were 48 pitchout and (Vince) Lombardi's 49 sweep, and Rosie was the key man in all of that," Gifford said.
"The longest run in my career (79 yards) was on a 48 pitchout against Washington. Rosie made a block at the line of scrimmage. I cut it up, and then I'm running downfield and I look up and I see number 79 (Brown) in front of me, and he wiped out another guy," he said.
Parker, who was drafted in 1957 out of Ohio State, once said of Brown, "Rosey never did the same thing twice," according to the Newark, N.J., Star-Ledger. "He was incredible. He was my favorite, my idol. Everything I learned, I picked up from him. I wanted to be just like him."
Brown was one of two renowned Roseys on the Giants in the later '50s and early '60s, the other being defensive tackle Roosevelt Grier. While Grier may be better remembered, perhaps because of his association with the Kennedys and his being a member of the Los Angeles Rams' Fearsome Foursome in the '60s, Brown is bracketed with the Packers' Forrest Gregg and the Bengals' Anthony Munoz as the NFL's three best offensive tackles ever.
Chronic phlebitis forced Brown's retirement after the 1965 season and he became the Giants' assistant offensive line coach in 1966, moving up to offensive line coach in 1969 and joining the scouting department in 1971. He was around the Giants even last summer. He would watch the offensive linemen's drills during camp and accompany co-owner Wellington Mara.
Brown was a favorite of Mara, who was fond of the Giants teams of the '50s and '60s, when he was much younger. The '58 team may have lost to the Colts in the championship game, but the '56 Giants were the NFL champions.
"Rosey was a great Giant," the 87-year-old Mara said Thursday. "He was with this organization for more than 50 years as a player, coach and scout. He excelled in every area and he was always a gentleman."
Brown regularly attended training camp, often walking side-by-side with Mara.
"In 33 years in the National Football League, I don't know that I loved working with or knowing anyone more than Roosevelt Brown," general manager Ernie Accorsi said. "The world knows he was a great player. But few know what a great scout he was. He was a treasure to have in our scouting department, full of wisdom and knowledge."
Brown was stricken while in his garden at his home in Mansfield Township, according to police, who responded to a 911 call during the afternoon. He was not breathing and police began cardiopulmonary resuscitation, then took him to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Born Oct. 20, 1932 in Charlottesville, Va., Brown is survived by his wife, Linda.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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