An undrafted college football player has a 0.3% chance of making it to the NFL and three years is the average length of time in the league. With just one year of college football under his belt at a historically Black college in the south and a year in the Canadian league, Brown managed to beat the odds…twice. In 1999, he successfully entered the NFL as an un-drafted free agent and goes on to spend 9 years in the NFL…but how?
It’s simple. Brown’s one year of collegiate experience was spent under the tutelage of legendary coach Eddie Robinson. The historically Black college was Grambling State University. As the head coach at Grambling State University for fifty-six years, more than 200 of his players went on to play professional football; to include several NFL Hall of Famers and the first Black player quarterback to win the Super Bowl. Between 1960 and 1990, Coach Robinson recorded only one losing season and in 1985, he surpassed Coach Bear Bryant of the University of Alabama with 324 wins to become the winningest coach in college football history. Joe Paterno, the head coach for Penn State surpassed Coach Robinson’s record in 2011 with 410 wins. According to Coach Paterno, “…nobody has ever done or ever will do what Eddie Robinson has done for the game… Our profession will never, ever be able to repay Eddie Robinson for what he has done for the country and the profession of football.”
“Success occurs when preparation meets opportunity…” Henry Hartman
As fate would have it, Brown’s first year as a Grambling State University Tiger would be Coach Rob’s final season as head coach. Amid the changes made with the coaching staff, Brown quickly found himself without a spot on the team for the upcoming season. Suddenly, he was forced to acknowledge the fact that his dream of making it to the NFL would most likely remain a dream. However, a phone call from Coach Robinson rekindled the possibility. During the conversation, Brown was advised to, “stay in shape and wait for me to call you back.” The rest was history.
The Last Recruit
With the distinction of being the last Eddie Robinson recruit to make it to the NFL, Brown attributes much of his success to the lessons that he learned from “Coach Rob” both on the field and off the field, “… I learned enough in one year to last a life time,” says Brown.
In addition to his fateful encounter with a living legend, an intense desire to take care of his family was the driving force behind his accomplishments.
“It is an honor to be connected to the legacy that he left behind…he is truly one of a kind.”