Legendary Oakland Raiders cornerback and Pro Football Hall of Famer Willie Brown has died. He was 78.
The Raiders released a statement Tuesday, calling Brown “an integral part of the organization through six decades.”
“Willie Brown will forever be cherished as a true Raider. He exemplified the Raider spirit, originally entering the AFL as an undrafted free agent out of Grambling State before joining the Silver and Black in 1967. He remained an integral part of the organization through six decades. His legendary performance on the field changed the way the cornerback position was played and his valued guidance as a coach, mentor and administrator permeated the organization and touched countless individuals both on and off the field. Willie’s loss will leave a tremendous void, but his leadership and presence will always be a major part of the fabric of the Raiders Family.”
Brown’s cause of death has not been revealed.
Brown spent 16 seasons in the NFL. His first four came with the Denver Broncos. Brown made two Pro Bowls and was named to the All-Pro team once during his tenure with the Broncos.
Brown joined the Raiders in 1967, and compiled some unbelievable accomplishments during his first seven seasons with the club. From 1967-73, Brown made seven straight Pro Bowls. He was named to the All-Pro team four times during that period.
Following his NFL career, Brown spent a few seasons as the Raiders’ defensive backs coach. He also coached at Long Beach State and Jordan High School. Brown eventually rejoined the Raiders in a front office role in 1995.
Brown is perhaps most famous for his game-clinching interception in Super Bowl XI. With Oakland leading 26-7, Brown picked off a Fran Tarkenton pass in the flat with 8:18 to go in the fourth quarter. Brown then raced 75 yards for the touchdown. The moment is regarded as one of the most iconic interceptions in NFL history.
That was the only Super Bowl that Brown won as a player. He won two more Super Bowl rings as a Raiders coach.
In recent seasons, Brown was one of the former Raiders to appear at the NFL draft to announce one of the team’s draft picks. Before announcing the pick, Brown would pay tribute to mothers, and remind fans that Mother’s Day was just around the corner.
Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984, the first season in which he was eligible for the honor. He’s still considered one of the best NFL players of all time.
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