Willie Brown
refer to caption
Brown in 2007
No. 24
Personal information
Born:(1940-12-02)December 2, 1940
Yazoo City, Mississippi, U.S.
Died:October 21, 2019(2019-10-21) (aged 78)
Tracy, California, U.S.
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:195 lb (88 kg)
Career information
High school:Taylor (Yazoo City, Mississippi)
College:Grambling State
Career history
As a player:
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
As a coach:
As an administrator:
Career highlights and awards
AFL record
  • Most passes intercepted in a single game: 4 (tied)
Career NFL statistics
Interception yards:472
Player stats at NFL.com · PFR

William Ferdie Brown (December 2, 1940 – October 21, 2019)[1] was an American professional football player, coach, and executive. He played as a cornerback for the Denver Broncos and the Oakland Raiders in the National Football League (NFL). Following his playing career, Brown remained with the Raiders as an assistant coach. He served as the head football coach at California State University, Long Beach in 1991, the final season before the school's football program was terminated. Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a player in 1984. At the time of his death he was on the Raiders' administrative staff.[2]

Playing career

Brown played college football at Grambling State University and was not drafted by any professional team after leaving school in 1963. He was signed by the Houston Oilers of the American Football League (AFL), but was cut from the team during training camp. He was then signed by the AFL's Denver Broncos and became a starter by the middle of his rookie season. He won All-AFL honors in his second season and played in the AFL All-Star Game.

In 1967, Brown was traded within the Western Division to the Oakland Raiders and spent the remainder of his playing career there. He served as defensive captain for 10 of his 12 years with the team. He was named to five AFL All-Star games and four NFL Pro Bowls. He was also named All-AFL three times and All-NFL four times.[3]

Perhaps Brown's most memorable moment as a Raider came late in Super Bowl XI, when he intercepted a Fran Tarkenton pass with under six minutes remaining and returned it a Super Bowl-record 75 yards for the clinching touchdown.[4][5] NFL Films immortalized Brown's play with a film clip of Brown running with the ball, appearing to be running straight to the camera. He was also given a popular nickname as a result of Bill King's radio call of the play: "He (Tarkenton) looks and throws...intercepted by the Oakland Raiders Willie Brown at the 30, 40, 50...he’s going all the way!...Old Man Willie!...Touchdown Raiders!"[6] His record stood for 29 years, until it was broken by Kelly Herndon's non-scoring 76-yard interception return from the end zone in Super Bowl XL.[7]

Brown retired after the 1978 season, and finished his Raiders career with 39 interceptions, tied for first all-time on the team. He finished his sixteen seasons in professional football with 54 interceptions, which he returned for 472 yards and two touchdowns. He also recovered three fumbles.[8]

Brown was selected to the American Football League All-Time Team[9] and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 28, 1984, his first year of eligibility.[3] In 1999, he was ranked number 50 on The Sporting News' list of the 100 Greatest Football Players, making him the highest-ranking Raiders player.[10]

Coaching career

Brown served as a defensive backfield coach for the Raiders from 1979 to 1988. He was also the last head football coach at Long Beach State before the program was discontinued.[11] Brown had succeeded George Allen, who had died just after the end of the 1990 season. He earned a master's degree at the same school in 1991, and later coached at Jordan High School in Los Angeles in 1994. In 1995, he returned to the Raiders as the Director of Staff Development.[12]




Brown died on October 21, 2019, at the age of 78.[1]

Head coaching record

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Long Beach State 49ers (Big West Conference) (1991)
1991 Long Beach State 2–9 2–5 T–5th
Long Beach State: 2–9 2–5
Total: 2–9

See also


  1. ^ a b Sandomir, Richard (October 22, 2019). "Willie Brown, Hall of Fame Defensive Back With Raiders, Dies at 78". The New York Times. Archived from the original on October 23, 2019. Retrieved October 23, 2019.
  2. ^ Judge, Clark. "Raiders, Hall Mourn the passing of Willie Brown". si.com. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Willie Brown". profootballhof.com. Pro Football Hall of Fame. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  4. ^ Jenkins, Dan (January 17, 1977). "The Raiders were all suped up". Sports Illustrated. p. 10.
  5. ^ "Records set Sunday: Super Bowl XI". Eugene Register-Guard. (Oregon). January 10, 1977. p. 4C.
  6. ^ McDonald, Jerry. "Raiders cornerback 'Old Man Willie' Brown: His big moment in Super Bowl XI came to him in a dream," Bay Area News Group, Friday, January 29, 2016. Retrieved August 8, 2021
  7. ^ Hensley, Jamison (February 6, 2006). "Steel Will". The Baltimore Sun. Retrieved April 3, 2020.
  8. ^ "Willie Brown Stats". pro-football-reference.com. Sports-Reference, LLC. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  9. ^ "Raiders legendary Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown dies at 78". nbcsports.com. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  10. ^ "The Sporting News 100 Greatest Players of All-Time". futurefootballlegends.com. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  11. ^ Kirk, Roger. "Willie Brown, Long Beach State's Final Football Coach, Passes Away". longbeachstate.com. LONG BEACH STATE UNIVERSITY ATHLETICS. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  12. ^ "Willie Brown - Hall of Fame". raiders.com. The Las Vegas Raiders. Retrieved January 26, 2022.