Ross Browner
Tight headshot of a dark skinned man with a slightly long afro lookin into the camera. His football shoulder pads are slightly visible.
No. 79
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born:(1954-03-22)March 22, 1954
Warren, Ohio, U.S.
Died:January 4, 2022(2022-01-04) (aged 67)
Nashville, Tennessee, U.S.
Height:6 ft 3 in (1.91 m)
Weight:262 lb (119 kg)
Career information
High school:Warren Western Reserve
College:Notre Dame (1973, 1975–1977)
NFL draft:1978 / Round: 1 / Pick: 8
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Fumble recoveries:10
Player stats at · PFR

Ross Dean Browner (March 22, 1954 – January 4, 2022) was an American football defensive end who played for ten seasons in the National Football League (NFL), mainly for the Cincinnati Bengals. He played college football for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and was selected by the Bengals in the first round (eighth overall) of the 1978 NFL Draft.

Early life

Browner was born on March 22, 1954, in Warren, Ohio, where he also grew up. As a child he was primarily interested in swimming and diving, before concentrating on football. He attended Warren Western Reserve High School and during his senior year he was named first-team AAA (big school) all-state defensive end.[1]

College years

Ross Browner was one of the most decorated defensive players in the history of college football. At the University of Notre Dame he was a four-year starter at defensive end in 1973 and 1975–77.[2] He was a unanimous All-America his junior and senior seasons of 1976 and 1977. In 1976, he won the Outland trophy as the nation's best interior or defensive lineman; also in 1976, United Press International named him Lineman of the Year. He won the Lombardi Trophy as the nation's best lineman and the Maxwell Award as the nation's best player and again won the UPI Lineman of the Year Award, the only player ever to win it twice. In the decade of the 1970s, Browner was the only lineman who won the Maxwell. In 1977, he also placed fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. During his senior year in college, he was featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated with the subheading of "Notre Dame's Peerless Ross Browner."

Notre Dame had a 39–7 record in his time that covered 11–0 in 1973, 8–3 in 1975, 9–3 in 1976, and 11–1 in 1977. Notre Dame won National Championships in 1973 and 1977. His career statistics record 340 tackles, a school record; ten deflected passes, two blocked kicks. He also scored a touchdown and two safeties. Browner was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.[3]

Professional career

He was the first-round draft pick in the 1978 NFL Draft for the Cincinnati Bengals. Voted the team's Most Valuable Player in 1978, he played nine seasons for the Bengals. He set the Super Bowl record for tackles by a defensive lineman in Super Bowl XVI. In 1985, he jumped to the Houston Gamblers of the USFL, but returned the same season to the Bengals. Browner played one season (1987) with the Green Bay Packers before retiring.

Later life and death

After retiring, Browner lived for several years in Mason, Ohio, and worked in sports entertainment, the cleaning industry, insurance, mortgages, and business development. He latterly worked in real estate and lived in Nashville, Tennessee.

Browner was the father of former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive tackle Max Starks and former University of Arizona player Rylan Browner. Ross' brothers are former NFL players Jimmie Browner, Keith Browner and Joey Browner.[4] His nephew, Keith Browner, Jr., played for the Houston Texans.

He died of complications from COVID-19 on January 4, 2022, at the age of 67.[5]


  1. ^ "1972 All Ohio Football Teams" (PDF). Ohio High School Athletic Association. Retrieved February 14, 2023.
  2. ^ "Ross Browner Bio :: Notre Dame Football :: UND.COM :: The Official Site of ND Athletics".
  3. ^ "Ross Browner – American Football Defensive End".
  4. ^ "Waking the Echoes: Ross Browner // The Observer". 30 October 2014.
  5. ^ Hobson, Geoff (4 January 2022). "Bengals Super Bowl Stalwart Ross Browner Passes At 67". Bengals. Retrieved 5 January 2022.