Bob Brown, the bully on NFL offensive lines, dies at 81

Bob Brown, who was considered one of the NFL’s most feared, offensive tackles in his era but who had to wait more than 30 years after his retirement in 1973 to be elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 16 He died on June. Oakland, California. He was 81 years old.

His son, Robert Jr., said he died at the rehabilitation facility in April due to complications from a stroke Brown had suffered.

At 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, Brown was both powerful and agile. In a 10-year career with the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders, he was just as adept at protecting his quarterbacks as he was at leading the blocking for his running backs.

He viewed line play as a four-quarter fight, during which he would do almost anything to win, including deploying his forearms as weapons or using one of his thick thumbs as the “real edge” of the opponent’s body. The fleshy, good parts” included putting in where the shoulder pads ended, he once told NFL Films.

An NFL Films narrator dramatically stated, “He didn’t just block people.” “He buried them.”

One day during practice with the Rams, Brown was tired of being slapped on the sides of his helmet by defensive end Deacon Jones—a tactic that Jones used to confuse opposing linemen and get them out of his way. So Brown removed a screw from the face mask of his helmet and replaced it with a longer screw that he hammered into a sharp point. In the next practice, Jones impaled his left hand on a scruff and required a tetanus shot.

“I had two choices,” Brown told The Associated Press in 2004, looking back on his career. “Either I can go out there and be really good and be a hitter, or I can go out there and be very mediocre or ordinary and be a hitter. I liked the role of beater more.

His approach worked. Brown intimidated future Hall of Famers like Mean Joe Green of the Pittsburgh Steelers and Herb Ederle of the Green Bay Packers. He was named first-team All-Pro five times and was selected to six Pro Bowls. The Pro Football Hall of Fame named him on its All-Decade Team of the 1960s.

Robert Stanford Brown was born on December 8, 1941, in Cleveland. His father, Ulysses, owned a grocery store; His mother, Beatrice (Lumpkin) Brown, was a homemaker and helped out in the store.

Robert started playing football in junior high school. As a senior at East Technical High School, he was recruited by the University of Nebraska, where he played offensive guard and linebacker.

In 1963, his senior year with the Cornhuskers, Brown was an All-American as an offensive guard. He was the first black All-American in Nebraska’s football history.

Brown was selected by the Eagles in the first round of the 1964 NFL Draft. He was coached by the team’s defensive line coach, Dick Stanfel, and quickly established himself as one of the top offensive linemen in the league. But after five years, he asked for a trade, unhappy with the Eagles’ hiring of a new general manager, Pete Retzlaff.

He was sent to the Rams before the 1969 season, during which the team had an 11–3 record. But they lost 23–20 to the Minnesota Vikings in the Western Conference Championship Game. The Vikings scored a safety in the fourth quarter when future Hall of Fame defensive end Carl Eller of Minnesota tackled Brown in the end zone to sack the Rams’ quarterback, Roman Gabriel.

In 1971, Brown was traded again, this time to the Raiders, where he joined an offensive line that included four other future Hall of Famers: Art Shell, Gene Upshaw, Jim Otto and Ron Mix. John Madden, who coached the Raiders from 1969 to 1978, recalled Brown’s first impression on his new teammates in training camp.

“He hits the goal post with his forearm. Crack! And the whole goal post just goes down. Everybody’s looking like that,” Madden told NFL Films, his mouth open and eyes wide to explain his reaction. Then, he said, “he turned around and walked off the field.”

Injuries limited Brown’s playing time in the 1973 season—he only started eight games and played in two more—and his career ended after three years with the Raiders. Over the next half century, he spent much of his time restoring classic and muscle cars.

In addition to his son, Brown’s survivors include his wife, Cecilia (Gryer) Brown, and a granddaughter.

Despite receiving numerous accolades during his football career, Brown had to wait 31 years to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

“I was disappointed after being left out of the ball for the first five years. I thought after so long I must have been nominated and elected. But it didn’t,” he told The Lincoln Journal Star of Nebraska in 2004. “After nearly a decade,” he continued, “I finally let it go.”

At his induction in Canton, Ohio, in 2004, he spoke about his teammates, including Deacon Jones, and the battles in practice that helped propel him late.

“I love you for it,” he said. “But Dick, did you have to be so harsh?”