Timmy Brown died on April 4 at the age of 82, per the Philadelphia Eagles. His passing doesn’t appear to be from the novel coronavirus, although no cause of death was stated.
The team announced the sad news on Tuesday in an emotional Twitter post. The shifty running back retired in 1968 and ranked eighth on the Eagles’ all-time rushing list with 3,703 yards in eight seasons. He spent one season in Baltimore after the Eagles traded him to the Colts and he played in Super Bowl III. After his football career ended, Brown got into acting and appeared in TV shows and films.
Brown holds a slew of franchise records, including the most kickoff returns (169), most kickoff return yards (4,483) and most kickoff returns for touchdowns (5). He also serves as the Eagles’ all-time leader in average yards-per-touch (6.52). Brown, a three-time Pro Bowler, helped the Eagles win the 1960 NFL Championship in the pre-Super Bowl era. He was also a feared return specialist who racked up 4,781 yards on kickoffs and 639 yards on punts.
“Timmy Brown was an all-time great Eagle and one of the most dynamic multipurpose players of his era. He overcame many obstacles in his life to enjoy success both as an athlete and as an entertainer,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement, via the team’s official website. “A three-time Pro Bowler and member of our 1960 NFL Championship team, Timmy excelled as a running back and return specialist with his incredible athleticism and signature versatility.”
It’s been a tough week for former Eagles greats after the team lost Tom Dempsey over the weekend. The former Eagles and Saints kicker died from complications due to the novel coronavirus. Dempsey died in New Orleans at 73.
Eagles Great Cut by Vince Lombardi in Green Bay
The career arc of Timmy Brown might be one of the most interesting and complicated in NFL history. He was initially cut by Hall-of-Fame coach Vince Lombardi in 1959 after the Packers drafted him in the 27th round. Brown played in just one game for Green Bay that season.
“When I walked in his office, Coach Lombardi looked me up and down and said, ‘You don’t look like a football player,'” Brown told Ray Didinger. “I asked him, ‘Well, sir, what does a football player look like?’ He thought I was being cocky but I really wasn’t.”
According to the Eagles’ website, Brown grew up in an orphanage and earned a partial athletic scholarship to Ball State. He signed with the Eagles in 1960 after being waived by the Packers and helped them win a world championship. He totaled over 12,000 all-purpose yards and scored 62 touchdowns in Philadelphia.
Considered a dynamic offensive playmaker, Brown led the entire NFL in all-purpose yardage in 1962 and 1963. In 1966, he became the first player to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game. Better yet, it came in an upset win over the hated Cowboys. He was inducted into the Eagles Hall of Fame 1996 but never got the call from the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. Brown last appeared on the ballot in 2015.
Eagles Legends Comment on Brown’s Death
Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie was the first to comment publicly on Timmy Brown’s death. He remembered his “outgoing, uplifting personality.”
“He was one of the most exciting players to watch during his career,” Lurie said in a statement. “Those who knew him well have said they will remember him for his outgoing, uplifting personality and the connections he built with his teammates and the community. Our thoughts are with his loved ones during this time.”
Former Eagles great Pete Retzlaff compared Brown to Bears Hall-of-Fame running back Gale Sayers.
“Timmy was a Gale Sayers-type back,” said Pete Retzlaff, via the team’s official website. “He was very quick with a knack for finding daylight. He had great hands. He would be sensational in today’s game. Spread the offense, throw him the ball and watch him go.”
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