Nebraska Athletics to Honor Bob Brown

By NU Athletic Communications
Former Husker and NFL great Bob Brown will have his jersey No. 64 permantly retired during the Colorado game.
Former Husker and NFL great Bob Brown will have his jersey No. 64 permantly retired during the Colorado game.
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Lincoln, Neb. -- The University of Nebraska Athletic Department is proud to honor former Husker and NFL great Bob "Boomer" Brown with a special ceremony on Friday, Nov. 26, 2004, when the Nebraska football team plays host to Colorado in the regular-season finale. During the halftime celebration, Nebraska will permanently retire his jersey No. 64. In conjunction with the game ceremony, Brown will speak to several University and local groups on Tuesday and Wednesday.

"We are proud to declare Nov. 26 as Bob Brown Day," Athletic Director Steve Pederson said. "No other Nebraska football student-athlete has made such an impact at the collegiate and professional levels. As Bob Devaney’s first All-American, he paved the way for future success of Nebraska student-athletes. As great as he was on the field, he was a student first and we are honored to bring him home to this institution to share his football and life experiences with us."

The University of Nebraska has retired the jerseys of 15 other former Huskers, but previously, only Tom Novak has had his number retired. Novak’s jersey was voted into retirement by the N-Club in 1949. Nebraska’s other 14 retired jerseys are those who have won major college football awards. The N-Club Advisory Club, formed in 2004, voted unanimously that Brown’s jersey should be permanently retired.

Brown is one of just 10 players among all Big 12 Conference universities to be inducted into both the college and pro football hall of fame, being so honored in 1993 and 2004, respectively. The list of other honorees attests to the difficulty of reaching that athletic pinnacle, not once but twice.

The other nine players in the conference who have been inducted into both halls of fame includes one other Nebraska player–Guy Chamberlin an end for NU in 1913-14-15. Oklahoma (Tommy McDonald, back, 1954-56 and Lee Roy Selmon, defensive line, 1972-75) and Texas (Earl Campbell, running back, 1974-77 and Bobby Layne, quarterback, 1944-47) have also each had two honorees, while four Big 12 schools have had one each, including Baylor (linebacker Mike Singletary, 1977-80); Kansas (Gale Sayers, halfback, 1962-64); Missouri (Kellen Winslow, tight end, 1976-78) and Oklahoma State (Barry Sanders, halfback, 1986-88).

Brown was a first-team All-America guard for the Huskers in 1963, earning three letters (1961-63) and wearing No. 64 his last two years. Born on Dec. 8, 1941, in Cleveland, Ohio, Brown was Nebraska Hall of Fame Coach Bob Devaney’s first All-American, and was key in the program’s turnaround. Brown graduated in four years with a bachelor of science degree in education/physical education in 1964, without attending summer sessions.

During his collegiate career, Brown helped Devaney’s first two teams post 9-2 and 10-1 records in 1962 and 1963, respectively. He was named college football’s Lineman of the Year in 1963 by the Washington, D.C. Touchdown Club. At the enshrinement ceremony into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Aug. 8, 2004, Brown said he enjoyed his experience at Nebraska, particularly the chance to play for Devaney.

"As a senior, I was noticed by Warren Schmakel, who was the freshman coach at the University of Nebraska," Brown said. "I was offered and accepted an athletic scholarship, and this exposed me to an academic and athletic college program that I think is best in the country, along with the special caveat to play for, in my opinion, the greatest teacher (and) football college coach ever–Bob Devaney."

Brown was a first-round draft pick and the second selection overall by Philadelphia in 1964 and went on to enjoy a 10-year NFL career, including five years with the Philadelphia Eagles (1964-65-66-67-68), two with the Los Angeles Rams (1969-70) and three with the Oakland Raiders (1971-72-73). Brown is known as one of the first professional football players to embrace weight training and year-round conditioning.

Brown was known as a very aggressive blocker who utilized his great size (6-4, 295 pounds) and strength to neutralize hard-charging pass rushers. Despite battling knee injuries throughout much of his pro career, Brown earned NFL/NFC offensive lineman of the year three times and was elected to six Pro Bowls (1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972). An All-Pro lineman in 1969, Brown was named to the NFL’s all-decade team of the 1960s, was named first-team All-NFL seven times (1965, 1966, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972) and was named to the second team in two of the three years he did not make first team.

In 1969, after five consecutive all-league seasons with the Eagles, Brown was traded to Los Angeles. That year, the Rams’ offensive line set an NFL record for protecting the passer. "At his best," then-Ram’s coach and future Hall of Famer George Allen said, "No one was better than big Bob Brown."

His reputation preceded him to Oakland too. One story that was retold often at the enshrinement in August, was of Brown’s first day at the Raiders’ training camp in 1971. Brown jogged out onto the field for the team’s first practice, and when he reached the end zone, he psyched himself up with a forearm to the padded goalpost–which then came crashing to the ground.

In addition to his physical toughness, "Boomer" also had a work ethic, mental tenacity and self confidence that drove him to excellence throughout his career. Introducing Brown at the enshrinement, Robert Jr., said that his father, was always determined to be the "Last man standing."

As a member of the Rams, Brown played with three other Hall of Famers, offensive lineman Tom Mack and defensive linemen Merlin Olsen and Deacon Jones. With the Raiders, Brown played for Coach John Madden. Playing against Brown six times and practicing against him as teammates for two seasons, Jones gave Brown high praise saying he had a "linebacker mentality."

"He’s a linebacker in an offensive lineman’s body," Jones said at the enshrinement. "He had a cold-blooded mentality. He’d kill a mosquito with an ax."

Former Raider teammate and Hall of Fame lineman Ron Mix said, "Everything about Brown is bigger than life–his size, his talent, his intelligence, his sensitivity. He’s one of a kind."

The University of Nebraska Athletic Department is honored to host Bob Brown, a one-of-a-kind Husker, and his wife Cecilia on campus from Tuesday through Friday, Nov. 23-26. Brown will be available to the media on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at 1:15 p.m. via teleconference after NU’s regular Tuesday football press conference. Brown will also join Steve Pederson on the Pinnacle Sports Network for the "Talk to Steve" radio show on Tuesday, Nov. 9 from 6 to 7 p.m. There will be an invitation-only reception in Brown’s honor in the West Stadium following the game on Friday, Nov. 26.

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