Thursday, August 5, 2004
Brown muscles his way to Canton
Bob Brown went to work wearing a helmet and pads. He would have
been equally comfortable carrying a hard hat and lunch bucket.
The former Raiders, Eagles and Rams offensive tackle had a
Playing in the NFL "was a job and like any other job I was
raised by a man who taught me that if you work for someone and you
take their money, you give them an honest day's work," he said.
"I never dogged a play. I ran the tank completely dry."
His effort took him all the way to Canton, Ohio.
Brown, who made six Pro Bowls and earned All-NFL honors five
times during a career that lasted from 1964-73, will be inducted
into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday along with John
Elway, Barry Sanders and Carl Eller.
One of the first NFL linemen devoted to year-round weight
training, the 6-foot-4 Brown was nicknamed "The Boomer" because
he loved to beat up on defensive ends. The Cleveland native played
at 300 pounds, but that was muscle, not flab.
"I had two options. I could either go out there and be real
good and be the beater, or I could go out there and be very
mediocre or ordinary and be the beatee. I liked the role of beater
better," he said in a humble voice.
Brown is so soft-spoken that it's hard to imagine he ever played
in the NFL. But when it was time to go to work, he was a menace to
the man across the line of scrimmage.
"He would knock out a guy every day almost at practice. He was
just tough. Nobody never beat him," said Gene Young, a childhood
friend and Brown's college roommate and teammate at Nebraska.
Brown said his goal was to wear down his opponent physically and
mentally: "If I hurt you enough, I can make you quit."
Hostile words from a 62-year-old devoted husband, father and
While Brown was as tough as they come on the field, he never
brought the brutality of his work home. He taught his son, Robert
Brown Jr., about the cerebral aspects of football and how he could
apply that to his life.
"My father has always been highly disciplined and I learned
from him that in order to achieve excellence you have to be willing
to sacrifice and put in the time and work extremely hard," said
the younger Brown, a deputy city attorney in Los Angeles who has a
green belt in karate.
Brown's wife of 39 years said their 37-year-old son has been
practicing his father's Hall of Fame induction speech "since he
"The only person with a better work ethic is my son," CeCe
But Brown Sr. still works hard.
He lifts weights three days a week at his home in Oakland,
exercises every day and puts countless hours into his hobby of
restoring classic cars. He used to build muscle cars, but said he
can't "wrench" anymore because of surgery on his back and a hip
He just finished restoring a 1964 pearl white Cadillac
convertible -- with a pale green and white leather interior -- that
he's owned for about 30 years.
"The car is absolutely splendiferous," said Brown, who's
planning to start a car restoration business with a friend.
Brown was the second overall selection in the 1964 NFL draft by
Philadelphia -- San Francisco took Texas Tech tight end Dave Parks
at No. 1 -- and the first pick of that year's AFL draft, by Denver.
Young, a fullback who first played with Brown on their ninth
grade team in Cleveland, said his best friend was nimble for a big
man, which helped him kick and play linebacker and tackle for the
"As I look back, the one thing I didn't realize is he could
dance," Young said. "He was light on his feet."
When he got to Oakland toward the end of his career, Brown
played on a line with three other future Hall of Famers: Art Shell,
Gene Upshaw and Jim Otto. He retired before the Raiders started
making Super Bowls and regrets not playing in the big game, but
takes satisfaction knowing he gave his all on every play.
"Every week to me was a Super Bowl," he said. "I had to play
my own personal Super Bowls. I was not going to take a whipping, I