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BOSTON (CBS) – On Thursday, former Patriots receiver Troy Brown got to try on his brand new red jacket.
On Saturday he’ll get to actually keep it, as he is enshrined as the newest member of the New England Patriots Hall of Fame.
“This is a great way to cap off what everybody has talked about as a great career I put together myself, with the help of so many different people,” Brown said from Gillette Stadium on Thursday. “You can’t get any greater honor than this if you’re a Patriot.”
Troy Brown With Levan Reid:
Brown will join the likes of other Patriots All-Time greats Drew Bledsoe, Ben Coates, and Andre Tippett (just to name a few) Saturday afternoon, the final chapter of a 15-year NFL career that saw him wear only a New England uniform.
Brown did it all for New England, from being the top receiving threat to a special teams specialist to even a brief stint as a defensive back. The versatile Brown was also a silent leader in the locker room, spanning from the end of the franchise’s dark days of to the glare of Super Bowl glory.
“A lot of humble beginnings make for humble endings,” he said. “It’s been special. It makes me appreciate it that much more when you have to fight and claw and scratch to get it.”
That fight began at the very beginning of his pro career, when Brown was selected in the eighth round in 1993. Head coach Bill Parcells cut him that preseason, and Brown didn’t suit up for the Patriots for half the year.
And when he did, it wasn’t even the same uniform he donned that summer.
“That made me a better player and a better person. Being cut is not fun,” he recalled. “I was out for over half the season that year. I came back and I lost my number. I used to be Irving Fryar (81) and I came back as Stanley Morgan (80). It wasn’t fun. He kind of beat me up a little bit when I got back.”
After making it through his rookie year, more uncertainty surrounded Brown.
“When the season was over, I was a free agent. I didn’t know if he was going to sign me again,” Brown continued. “He did. He gave me another opportunity and it’s been pretty good since then.”
Now, nearly 20 years later, Brown can tout he was with the franchise for three Super Bowl titles, and left as the team’s all-time leader in receptions with 557 to go with his 6,636 yards and 31 touchdowns.
But while he likely won’t be the franchise leader in receptions come Sunday afternoon (Wes Welker also currently has 557 and should replace Brown atop the list Sunday when the Patriots host the Arizona Cardinals), Brown will always have his memories.
One of his favorites is his famous punt return against the Steelers in the 2001 AFC Championship game, setting the Patriots up for a 24-17 win and a trip to the Super Bowl.
“It was against a team I hated as a kid. My brother was a huge Pittsburgh fan and they beat up on the Cowboys in the ’70s. That was my team, so what better way to get back than to deliver a blow yourself,” Brown recalled. “They came in that game pretty arrogant, and Bill [Belichick] did a good job selling that to us.
“We were ready, and man, you couldn’t ask for better weather in January – in Pittsburgh – that day,” said Brown. “We went out and beat them in every aspect of that game.”
The next week, Brown made a crucial catch-and-run late in the fourth quarter to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning kick as the Patriots beat the Rams 20-17 for the franchise’s first Super Bowl.
“They were covering us up pretty good to start that drive,” Brown recalls. “The middle of the field was wide open, and I know that was where they wanted us to be to burn timeouts and use the clock, but it was still just wide open and I was able to catch the ball, go up field and get out-of-bounds. We welcomed it. It was just one of those drives where everyone was calm.
“It all starts with your leader,” he said of Belichick and Tom Brady. “I was going to be calm regardless. But when you think about it, if you look up and see the guy who is handling the ball and commanding this drive, and he’s in a frenzy, it’ll probably drive everyone into a frenzy.”
That wasn’t the case, and the rest is history.
As for the history that still has to be written, Brown is anxious to don his red jacket as an official member of the Patriots Hall of Fame. It will be an emotional day, but Brown doesn’t see himself shedding any tears.
But in a good way.
“I don’t see myself doing that right now,” he said. “I like to have fun with it. I’ll smile a lot, and have fun with the crowd. It might be a little unusual, but I like to have fun with people. Smile and laugh, joke around a little bit, and maybe share my thoughts on how I feel about them.”
Saturday’s Hall of Fame induction will be held at the Hall at Patriots Place at 5 p.m., and is free to the public.
Tune in to 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Gresh and Zolak on Friday, September 14 at noon when Troy Brown joins the show!