Card: Upper Deck Collector’s Choice 1994
Acquired: In Person 1994, Houston Oilers Training Camp
Failure: TTM 2013, C/o The Cleveland Browns
Gary Brown of Penn State originally played at safety. I remember vividly watching Gary in the Holiday Bowl stripping the ball from Ty Detmer in spectacular fashion and running 53 yards the other direction for a touchdown.
The Houston Oilers drafted Gary Brown in 1991 and converted the defensive back to runningback. He’d back up Allen Pinkett and Lorenzo White in 1991 and see mop up duty in his first season cleaning up the Los Angeles Raiders in the 4th quarter of the first game, running for 60 yards and a touchdown on only 5 carries. Once I saw his performance I was very comfortable with Brown- and at 5’11”, 230 was impressed by his perfect balance of power, explosiveness, and speed.
He’d get some more playtime in 1992, where he’d again show up in mop up duty, this time squarely behind Lorenzo White, rushing for almost 100 yards on the season, however 1993- that would be Brown’s long awaited coming out party.
Gary Brown did what few runningbacks had done before him, galloping for 1000 yards starting 8 games subbing for injured starter Lorenzo White that season. Brown helped the Oilers pull of their best record in Oiler history at 12-4. He’d rush for 166 yards in a 38-3 victory over the Bengals and then follow that up with 194 yards over the Browns. Later in the season he’d post 100+ yard efforts against Cleveland (again), Pittsburgh, and San Fransisco, just clearing 1000 yards by 2, and averaging 5.1 yards a carry. Unfortunately nicks and tears caught up with Brown, and injuries increasingly took their toll on him in 1994 and 1995.
By 1996 Gary was out of football, but returned in 1997 to play for the Chargers. He’d fit in well with the Chargers, running for 945 yards in 14 games. (He’d lose comeback player of the year honors to Jerome Bettis.) Brown kept running and sign as a free agent with the New York Giants for 1998. He’d endear himself to Giants fans with his churning style, rushing for a career high 1063 yards. (The 4 seasons between 1000 yard efforts was for a while an NFL record.) He’d play 2 games into 1999 for the Giants before losing the rest of the season on injured reserve, where he’d subsequently retire.
Gary Brown is rumored to have earned the nickname “Tecmo Man” for his obsessive playing of the game Tecmo Super Bowl. The game did not really do him justice in the 1991 incarnation, but the Super Nintendo one honored his power and speed making him a fun runningback to pilot.
After retirement he went into coaching and worked his way up from the high school level and into college where he coached runningbacks at Rutgers in 2008. In 2009 he moved on to the Browns where he worked on the coaching staff as their runningbacks coach- a role he held through 2012. He’d then join the Cowboys in 2013 in the same capacity, holding that role through 2019. After a battle with cancer, Gary decided to coach again, this time at Wisconsin in 2021.
I tried him TTM back in 2013 when he was coaching with the Browns, but no dice. He stopped signing essentially in 2009 and never looked back.
Gary Brown, who spent this past year coaching running backs at Wisconsin, passed away tonight. He was in hospice for the last couple of weeks at in hometown in Williamsport, Pennsylvania. Gary- was 52.