State Your Case: Dave Brown

Only three NFL cornerbacks intercepted more than his 58 interceptions

(Published May 2019)

The Pro Football Hall of Fame elected Seattle safety Kenny Easley in its Class of 2018 and former University of Michigan cornerback Ty Law in its Class of 2019.

Now the Hall needs to consider another Seattle defensive back and another University of Michigan corner. Dave Brown has waited long enough for such consideration.

Brown was an All-America safety at Michigan who became a first-round draft pick by Pittsburgh in 1975. He picked up a Super Bowl ring in his rookie season with the Steelers, then was selected by the Seattle Seahawks in the expansion draft in 1976. He moved into the starting lineup at safety that season and led the team in both tackles (111) and interceptions (four).

The Seahawks moved Brown to cornerback in 1977 and he stayed there for the next 13 seasons, intercepting 58 passes. Only three cornerbacks intercepted more passes in NFL history – Dick “Night Train” Lane (68), Ken Riley (65) and Dick LeBeau (62). Emmitt Thomas also intercepted 58 passes at corner, tying Brown. Lane, LeBeau and Thomas all have busts in Canton.

Add his four interceptions at safety and Brown’s 62 career interceptions tie him with LeBeau for 10th on the NFL’s all-time list. Seven of the nine players ahead of Brown have already been enshrined in the Hall of Fame. Brown has been eligible for Canton for 25 years now but has never once been a finalist, so his career has never been discussed and debated.

Brown and Riley combined for 127 career interceptions – and they must be the quietest 127 interceptions in NFL history. Both played 15 seasons but Riley never went to a Pro Bowl and Brown went to just one. Like Brown, Riley has never been a Hall of Fame finalist. Now both are in the senior pool where everyone is a longshot for Canton.

Dave Brown, who passed away of a heart attack in 2006 at the age of 52, deserves better.

In his three seasons at Michigan, Brown was a three-time All-Big Ten selection, a two-time All-America and has since been enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame. So he arrived in the NFL as an elite defender and remained at that level for the next 15 seasons.

Brown served as Seattle’s defensive captain from 1983-86 before being traded to Green Bay in 1987. He intercepted a career-high eight passes in 1984 on his way to his only Pro Bowl. He also had four six-interception seasons, including 1989 when he led the Packers in his final NFL season at the age of 36.

Brown holds Seattle’s franchise records for interceptions (50), return yards (643) and touchdowns (five). He returned two interceptions for TDs in a 1984 game against Kansas City, scoring on runbacks of 90 and 58 yards. He also returned interceptions for TDs of 27 yards against the Chiefs in 1977, 28 yards against the Rams in 1985 and 18 yards against the Steelers in 1986.

A physical player at both safety and corner, Brown forced six fumbles in 1983 and 10 in his career. He also recovered 11 fumbles, giving him 73 career takeaways. The Seahawks enshrined him in the franchise Ring of Honor in 1992.

The Hall of Fame should be about productivity, not reputation. Few cornerbacks in NFL history were more productive than Brown. He deserves to have his case heard by the Hall of Fame selection committee.


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