Gilbert Brown
refer to caption
Brown in 2005.
No. 93
Position:Nose tackle
Personal information
Born: (1971-02-22) February 22, 1971 (age 53)
Farmington, Michigan, U.S.
Height:6 ft 2 in (1.88 m)
Weight:340 lb (154 kg)
Career information
High school:Mackenzie (Detroit, Michigan)
NFL draft:1993 / Round: 3 / Pick: 79
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games Played:125
Fumble recoveries:1

Gilbert Jesse Brown (born February 22, 1971) is an American former professional football nose tackle who played for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (1993–99, 2001–03), Brown played 125 Packers games (103 starts) recording 292 tackles (186 solo) and seven sacks. Nicknamed "The Gravedigger" in honor of his celebratory dance following a thunderous tackle, Brown played in 15 Packers playoff games. He was a major contributor on strong defenses during the mid-1990s. His most successful season was in 1996, when he started all 16 games and Green Bay won Super Bowl XXXI. He was also part of the Kansas team that won the 1992 Aloha Bowl and was selected for the All-Academic Big Eight team in 1991.

Early years

Brown grew up in Detroit, Michigan with parents Leroy and Ann Brown, older brother Leroy, and younger siblings, Carla, Carlos and JoAnn (all of whom went to college and became athletes).[1]

During his career at Mackenzie High School, Brown recorded 189 tackles and 19 sacks. His senior year culminated in all-state honors. He also lettered in track, competing in the shot put. He graduated from high school in 1989.[2]

College career

Brown chose to attend the University of Kansas, and majored in human development.[2] With the Jayhawks, Brown helped build a winning program, along with Dana Stubblefield. He started all but 2 games in four seasons at the University of Kansas (1989–92), and was tied for sixth in school history in tackles by a defensive lineman with 168, fifth in career tackles for loss with 30, and had 7+12 career sacks. He finished second on the team in sacks, tackles for loss and fumbles recovered in 1991 while helping the Jayhawks hold opponents to an average of 150.9 yards per game on the ground, which was the best run defense at Kansas since 1968 at the time. A year earlier, as a sophomore, was named as the Jayhawks' 'Co-Defensive Most Valuable Player' and earned second-team All-Big Eight Conference recognition. Brown started nine games at nose guard as a freshman...An All-Academic Big Eight selection in 1991.[2]

He came up with the "Gravedigger" move at Kansas—after a big defensive hit, he would dig an imaginary grave, which became his trademark and nickname.[1]

Professional career

Pre-draft measurables
Height Weight Arm length Hand span 40-yard dash 10-yard split 20-yard split 20-yard shuttle Three-cone drill Vertical jump Broad jump Bench press
6 ft 2+34 in
(1.90 m)
330 lb
(150 kg)
32+34 in
(0.83 m)
9+38 in
(0.24 m)
5.12 s 1.83 s 3.02 s 4.84 s 7.59 s 23 in
(0.58 m)
8 ft 8 in
(2.64 m)
24 reps
All values from NFL Draft[3]

Brown was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the 1993 NFL Draft (79th overall pick), but was waived during the final roster cutdowns on August 30, 1993 in his first training camp due to his weight.[4] He was listed at 315 in college, but showed up to Vikings camp at a hefty 355. But the Packers, desperate then for defensive linemen, picked him up on August 31. Brown played in just two games that season while he worked off some of his weight in practice. In 1994, he played but his season was cut short with a torn Anterior cruciate ligament. Again in 1995, he played, but an elbow injury cut that season short. In 1996, he started all 16 games next to Santana Dotson, Sean Jones and Reggie White, a defensive unit that allowed a league record low 19 touchdowns. Brown had a career-high 51 tackles, and his first complete 16 game season.[citation needed] Brown became a fan favorite, partly because of his eccentric gravedigger dance, and partly because of the "Gilbertburger" — a Double Whopper with extra everything, cut in half with extra cheese, no pickles — always obtained from the Oneida Street Burger King in Green Bay. Burger King even made it available for a short time as a promotion in Wisconsin Burger King restaurants.[5]

Brown was a highly sought after free agent after the 1996 season, but he elected to take a pay cut to stay with the Packers. On February 18, 1997, he signed a three-year, $8.25 million contract, which was 10 times his 1996 salary, but was about $1 million less than the offer he received from Jacksonville.[1] Despite his weight, he posted three sacks during the 1997 season, which tied his career high from 1994.

After playing all 16 games during the 1998 and 1999 seasons, he spent the 2000 season out of football after his contract with the Packers was not renewed. Before the 2001 training camp, he worked out and lived for a time with Fred Roll, his former strength and conditioning coach at the University of Kansas, and subsequently returned to Green Bay for training camp in July at 339 pounds.[2]

Brown had two good years after his return to football. However, he ruptured a biceps during the 2003 pre-season, but played on without having surgery. He recorded 14 tackles, one fumble recovery (the first of his career) and one pass defensed. In a victory over Chicago (Dec. 7), Brown posted a season-high four stops, along with a pass breakup.

On March 2, 2004, the Packers released Brown. He had played 125 Packers games (103 starts) with 292 tackles (186 solo) and seven sacks. He also played in 15 Packers playoff games. In franchise history, only Brett Favre (22), Mason Crosby (23) and Aaron Rodgers (21) have more.[6]

In 2014, Brown made the NFL Top 10 list of "Big Guys" at #2.

Life after football

Brown started the Gilbert Brown Foundation, which helps inner-city kids, and many other causes such as Breast Cancer and Make A Wish.[7] In 2002, he combined his love for cars with his desire to give back when he organized a car show, Gilbert Brown and Friends, in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, which benefited the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

On October 23, 2007, the Milwaukee Bonecrushers of the Continental Indoor Football League announced that Brown had signed a three-year contract to be the team's new head coach. The Bonecrushers began their season in March. However On Tuesday, April 8, 2008, Gilbert Brown resigned as head coach of the Milwaukee Bonecrushers citing irreconcilable differences with ownership.[8]

In 2008, he was inducted into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame.[9]

On August 6, 2009, it was announced that Brown would return to coaching as the first head coach of the expansion La Crosse Spartans of the Indoor Football League.[10]

On April 1, 2011, Brown announced he was taking a leave of absence from the La Crosse Spartans.[11]

From 2011 until 2014, Brown was the head coach of the Green Bay Chill of the Lingerie Football League, which was later renamed as the Legends Football League.[12]

On March 12, 2014 Gilbert Brown and his project partner, the Vistelar Group, launched an IndieGoGo project to raise money for the production/development/distribution of curriculum to counteract bullying, called the Bully-Proofing Playbook for Parents, Teachers & Kids.[13]


  1. ^ a b c "Brown eats up leftovers and running backs". Archived from the original on 2004-06-26. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  2. ^ a b c d "As Heroes Pass..." Archived from the original on 2007-07-26. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  3. ^ "Gilbert Brown NFL Combine Stats". July 5, 2022. Retrieved July 5, 2022.
  4. ^ "1993 NFL Draft Listing". Retrieved 2023-03-31.
  5. ^ "What's Eating Gilbert Brown?". Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  6. ^ "Packers Release DT Gilbert Brown". Archived from the original on 2007-12-20. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  7. ^ "About Brown Brown". Archived from the original on 2008-02-01. Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  8. ^ "Gilbert Brown Named Head Coach of Bonecrushers, Player Signings". Retrieved 2007-12-17.
  9. ^ Christl, Cliff. "Gilbert Brown". Archived from the original on May 25, 2023. Retrieved September 20, 2023.
  10. ^ "Indoor football back in La Crosse". Retrieved 2009-08-06.
  11. ^ "Spartans' Brown takes leave of absence from team".
  12. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-24. Retrieved 2011-09-04.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  13. ^ "Bully-Proofing Playbook for Parents, Teachers & Kids".