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Oakland parts ways with last L.A. Raider

NAPA, Calif. -- Tim Brown is leaving the Oakland Raiders
after 16 prolific seasons.

Unwilling to accept the prospect of reduced playing time, the
38-year-old receiver accepted owner Al Davis' decision to part ways
with the last former member of the Los Angeles Raiders. Davis
announced his intentions in a news conference with Brown on
Wednesday at the Raiders' training camp headquarters.

Oakland plans to release Brown on Thursday. The self-proclaimed
"Mr. Raider" holds most of the club's receiving records, and his
240 games in Silver and Black are the most in franchise history. He has caught at least one pass in 173
consecutive games -- the second-longest streak in NFL history behind
Jerry Rice's 273.

"I didn't want to be a distraction," Brown said. "I think
those guys have great respect for me, and I think you lose some of
that if you accept a role where you're not playing. ... When you've
played at the level I've played at, it's tough to be on the
sidelines waving a towel."

Brown ranks second in NFL history with 14,734 yards receiving
and third with 1,070 catches. His 99 touchdown receptions are tied
with Don Hutson for fourth, and his 14,734 all-purpose yards are
fifth.

"It's emotionally difficult. It's a part of your life," Davis
said. "Other than your family, this is your family. We've had many
great players, but there are certain players you fall for. It's
tough to lose him."

Brown won the Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame before the Raiders
drafted him in 1988. He soon established himself as an elite
receiver, appearing in nine Pro Bowls and going nine straight
seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving from 1993-2001.

Brown had 52 catches for 567 yards and two touchdowns last
season, but his streak of 175 starts ended in December.

He fell out of favor with former coach Bill Callahan, and also
didn't fit into the plans of new coach Norv Turner. Jerry Porter
and the 41-year-old Rice will be the Raiders' top receivers this
season, and Turner expects big things from Ronald Curry and Alvis
Whitted.

"Coming into training camp, you always think you've got a
little bit left in the tank," Brown said.

Though Brown's quiet style sometimes seemed at odds with the
Raiders' brash image, he was one of the team's most popular players
even during the franchise's dismal seasons after returning to
Oakland.

Brown also was a key member of the Raiders' AFC championship
team in 2002, when he finally reached the Super Bowl for the first
time in his career. Oakland lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown knew he would have a reduced role this season, though he
still entered training camp planning to be the Raiders' third
receiver. But Turner and his staff intend to give their younger
receivers the chance to play complementary roles to Rice and Porter
-- and Brown didn't want to be a part-time player.

"I certainly think the Raiders are going to be a very good
football team this year," Brown said. "That's another reason why
it's so disappointing.

"This won't be the end of Tim Brown. I'll surface somewhere
else, probably."

Brown plans to spend a few days with his family in the Bay Area
before flying home to Dallas and pondering the next stage of his
career. He would love to play for his hometown Cowboys, but
concedes it's unlikely.

It's difficult to tell how many teams will be interested in a
veteran whose play has slipped from its peak. If he can't find a
new team, Brown plans to retire with the Raiders -- perhaps as soon
as this month -- and seek a job in broadcasting or player personnel.

"Our relationship will continue," Davis said. "It always
does."