CANTON, Ohio — Tim Brown isn’t one to kick sand in the face of his former Raiders team, but the new Hall of Famer tells a cautionary tale in regard to its courtship with southern California.
The grass won’t necessarily be greener in Carson, Brown told Balls, even if the money appears to be right now.
“L.A. is L.A.,” Brown said. “It’s going to be different. L.A. fans, if you’re 4-8, the beach is awfully tempting, if you know what I mean.”
Brown learned that fact in his first NFL game at the Los Angeles Coliseum. The first time he touched the ball, he returned a kickoff for a touchdown.
“I saw the stands, and I was like, ‘Man, there’s nobody [here]’ — and that’s when the stadium seated 110,000,” Brown said. “I found the attendance in 1988 — 38,000 in the stands. That was opening day. That’s all there was. That’s the thing about L.A. — you’ve got to be the best or one of the best in the league, or you’re not going to draw large numbers.”
Raiders owner Mark Davis has said repeatedly that he prefers to remain in Oakland, but he has no interest in building his own stadium and does not want to share land with a baseball facility.
“I know if that [move] happens, it won’t be what they want,” Brown said. “It’s going to be what they have to do. From that standpoint, I don’t know how cool that is. You have to do something. They want to be in Oakland. That’s where the team originated.”
BAR GETS HIGHER: Brown recorded nine consecutive seasons with at least 1,000 yards and 10 with 75-or-more receptions. Now the nine-time Pro Bowler wonders what the standards will be in an even more pass-happy era and whether players will stay around long enough to reach them.
“Well, if they said that I played and Andre [Reed] and Cris [Carter] played in the passing era, what in the world do they call this [for] the guys who come in after us?” Brown wanted to know. “It’s going to be difficult, no doubt about it.”
Brown believes future Hall of Fame candidates would have to make a commitment similar to that of Jerry Rice, who played 20 seasons, the most of any wide receiver in league history.
“I think for some of these guys, they may have to get up to Jerry’s numbers if that’s possible,” Brown said. “And I think it is possible, but I don’t think they’ve played long enough to make that happen. They’re throwing the ball enough, but with all the money that these guys are making, it’s just going to be impossible to stay focused long enough. You know, you got $50 million or $60 million in the bank [and] playing football it isn’t high on your priority list, going over the middle and getting hit.”
NOT SO FAST, COWBOY: Brown was born in Dallas, and there was a time when he wanted to play for his hometown team. At the 1993 Pro Bowl, he was a free agent when he broached the possibility with Michael Irvin, the Cowboys’ outspoken wide
“I sort of happily walked up to Michael thinking it was going be a great concept,” Brown recalled. “I said to him, ‘Hey, man, I’m thinking about coming home to Dallas. I would love to be No. 2 to you.’”
“He got so upset,” Brown said. ‘Tim Brown, don’t you ever think about coming here.’ I was like, ‘Mike man, what’s going on?’ He said, ‘No, I’m glad you told me first! I’m calling [owner] Jerry [Jones] right now and and telling him, ‘Don’t do it!’ That was pretty much the end of that conversation.”
Brown returned to the Raiders, with whom he spent all but the last of his 17 seasons.
BIG DIFFERENCE: Brown found it hard to relate to jumbo receivers such as Calvin Johnson who are prevalent in the game today. He singled out the Kansas City Chiefs’ Jeremy Maclin as the one whose all-around game was most similar to his as a player.
“Oh, man, these guys are so different now, you know?” Brown said. “Most of the receivers are 6-3, 6-4, 6-5 and 220, 230 pounds. It’s just a totally different game. You go from that to the 5-9, 5-10 slot receivers who can catch a whole bunch of balls and really don’t get anything done [yardage-wise].”
T.O. NEXT?: Former 49ers wide receiver Terrell Owens is the next local player in line for Hall of Fame induction.
Owens currently ranks sixth in career receptions (1,078), second in receiving yards (15,934) and fifth in touchdowns (156) in league history. He was a six-time Pro Bowler and six-time First Team All-Pro selection.
He was also an all-time doofus, Balls would add.