This past Saturday around 5:45 p.m., Tim Brown received a knock on his door. It was David Baker, president and executive director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and he had good news:
Brown, one of the best players to ever pick up a pigskin, had just been elected into Canton.
“It’s overwhelming,” Brown said on The Doug Gottlieb Show. “It really is. Whether it’s because I waited six years to get in or if it’s just the fact that it’s the Hall of Fame and I was finally being voted in, it was tough to maintain composure. My kids were there, my wife was there. It was just a mind-blowing moment, one that I would love to have over and over again.”
Interestingly enough, Brown, 48, wasn’t allowed to play football in high school because – are you ready for this? – his mother wouldn’t let him.
And then one day, Brown snuck away from band practice and joined the team.
“It’s so funny,” Brown said. “The drum major from my freshman year, she (contacted me) the other night and said, ‘I’m so glad you got out of the band.’ It’s a unique story. I think my mom had good intentions, obviously. But I think allowing dad to make the right decision at that time has paid off well.”
Brown, who grew up in Dallas, had scholarship offers from several major colleges, including Nebraska, Oklahoma and SMU. In the end, however, Brown went to South Bend and payed for the Irish.
“It was one reason and one reason only,” Brown said. “My mom and dad and my big brother at that time, they had one thing – and one thing only – on their mind, and it had nothing to do with football. It was all about the education I could get. At that particular time, football, the salary, the NFL – nobody was even talking about (that). It was all about, you go there four years, you can come back and get you a great job and have a great life. That was the plan, man.”
“If not for the educational prowess of Notre Dame, I probably would have stayed around here and gone to SMU or a Southwest Conference school at that time. But everybody just felt as if the opportunity was too great and something I couldn’t turn down.”
Brown won the Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame in 1987. The sixth overall pick in the 1988 Draft, he played 17 NFL seasons, including 16 for the Oakland Raiders. He was a nine-time Pro Bowler, played in a Super Bowl, was voted to the 1990s All-Decade team and retired in the top six in NFL history in all-purpose yards, catches and yards.
So, why did it take Brown six years to get elected? It’s simple: the competition. The Hall of Fame voters were split on Brown, Cris Carter and Andre Reed for several years. Carter was elected in 2013, with Reed following in 2014.
“You couldn’t have a bigger split in the room,” Brown said. “Trying to get 80 percent or whatever that number is just wasn’t going to happen. I told my guy, ‘Look, if the room is going for Andre, do Andre. If it’s going for Cris, go with Cris. Just get somebody in so we can break this tie and move on.’ But I just think . . . it’s a very difficult thing trying to get everybody through the process and make everybody happy.”
Six years later, though, the wait was more than worth it.
“Oh, no doubt,” Brown said. “No doubt.”