Antonio Brown, the New England Patriots receiver, made his debut for the team on Sunday, September 15, 2019, wearing number 17.
What’s the significance of that? Why did Brown choose that number? It’s likely in homage to Eddie Brown, Brown’s father. Eddie Brown is considered by many people to have been the best Arena Football League player in history. He wore number 17 when he played in that League. “It’s the number his father, Eddie, wore when he played for the Albany Firebirds of the Arena Football League,” CBS Boston reported of jersey number 17.
Antonio Brown and his dad weren’t always very close growing up, as he was raised largely by his mother and even ended up homeless for a time. However, by all accounts they’ve since formed a pretty close bond, with Eddie Brown gushing about his son in interviews. On social media, Antonio Brown has returned the favor. “The #greatests from day one. Always lookin up. Love you pops,” Antonio wrote on Instagram with a throwback picture of his father.
Antonio Brown is now weathering major controversy. Brown been accused of rape by his personal trainer Britney Taylor in a lawsuit. He denies the accusations.
Here’s what you need to know:
Antonio Brown First Wore Number 17 in a Patriots’ Practice
According to PatriotsWire, Brown was first seen wearing number 17 in a Patriots’ practice. He also wore number 1 in a practice but League rules prevent him from wearing that number during games, the site reported.
MassLive reported that NFL receivers have to pick numbers between 10-19 or 80-89. Brown was No. 84 with the Steelers and Raiders. Ben Watson already has that number for the Patriots, though.
Eddie Brown Was Known as ‘Touchdown Eddie Brown’ When He Played for the Firebirds in the Arena Football League
Eddie Brown was a two-time league MVP in the Arena Football League. According to ESPN, Eddie Brown “played his entire career with the Firebirds, from 1994-2000 in Albany, N.Y.” He retired in 2003.
At that time, he was “the AFL’s top career receiver for TDs with 303,” ESPN reported, adding that he set a record by scoring nine touchdowns in a single game and “had 949 career catches.” “Eddie Brown was simply the best receiver to play Arena Football,” Chicago Rush coach and committee member Mike Hohensee told ESPN.
Eddie Brown told ESPN that he doesn’t feel competitive with his son. “I’m never in competition with him,” Eddie said. “If you ask who was better, I’ll always tip my hat to him. He’s the best.” You can see Eddie Brown’s career stats here.
Eddie Brown once scored nine touchdowns in a single game. That earned him the nickname, “Touchdown Eddie Brown.”
He was once asked how he was able to accomplish such an astonishing record. According to Bleacher Report, he responded with a laugh and said, “First, they have to throw you the ball that many times.”
He added: “I just figured the quicker I could score, the quicker I could sit down,” Brown says. “Less wear and tear on my body.”
According to Bleacher Report, Eddie Brown ended up in the Arena Football League after the Phoenix Cardinals cut him in 1992. From Miami, he was a “junior college standout,” the site reported. Steelers Wire explains how “dynamic” Eddie was and how he is now a coach.
READ NEXT: Eddie Brown, Antonio’s Dad.