Thursday, September 25, 2008

Troy Brown

Troy Brown, all the football player anyone would ever want, retired today. Although the two men could not be more different, in that Brown is good fellow and his athletic doppleganger is a twisted sleaze, AS A PLAYER in his sport, the person Brown most reminded me of was Pete Rose.

Brown and Rose shared an invaluable trait. They had more ways to help win a game than others in their sports. Whatever it took to win, they made happen.

Brown was a wide receiver and the career Patriots' reception leader. Rose had more career base hits than any other player. And yet, their signature plays had nothing to do with those specialties. They were examples of improvisational art.

For Rose (at least if you're a Phillies fan, and I am), the self-defining play was in the field, when he caught the pop foul that dropped out of Bob Boone's catcher's mitt in Game 6 of the 1980 World Series. There have been many, well, a good number anyhow, of players greater than Rose in baseball history. None of 'em, not Mays, not Gehrig, not Wagner, could have made that particular play. Just Pete.

Brown's most memorable play, cited by Bill Belichick I'm happy to say, was his return of a blocked field goal followed by a lateral for a touchdown in the 2001 AFC Championship Game against the Steelers. Brown, who a Pro Bowl wideout that year, was on the field to guard against a fake field goal play that went outside.

Think about that one for a minute. Imagine what Terrell Owens (a better pass catcher than Brown) would say to Wade Phillips if the Cowboys' coach suggests he pull that duty this Sunday. Special teams grunt work. Basically, Brown was being asked to perform night watchman duty on the play.

And Brown had the creativity, reflexes, and poise to turn a nothing assignment into a touchdown, mixed in with the one play that NEVER works, a lateral. The odds on that play being repeated are the same odds we get our money back from Hank Paulson's bailout. No bet. There aren't any other players in the NFL with the mental, physical, and emotional skill set to make that happen.

Almost forgot to mention. Brown had ALREADY run back a punt for a touchdown in that game. He also caught 8 passes for 121 yards. Otherwise, he took the day off.

Brown was a wide receiver in several Super Bowl victories and a defensive back in another. When he was unable to dress for a Patriots Super Bowl, they lost. Coincidence? Perhaps.

It is a pleasure to write about Troy Brown, football player. One only hopes the pleasure will return when Brown's career receives the official honors its deserves. As far as I'm concerned, it deserves his sport's ultimate honor-even though he won't get it.

Pete Rose isn't in Cooperstown because he bet on baseball. Troy Brown's bust will never see Canton, Ohio because while everyone in the football world says it's a team game, not enough of them really believe it.


At 9:16 AM, Blogger Rich said...

And don't forget about his play against the Chargers in the 2006 AFC Divisional game to strip the ball and save the game after McCree intercepted Brady for what should have been the game-clinching play.

At 12:37 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

a class act. bingo!


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