State Your Case: Tim Brown

Tim Brown photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders

By Clark Judge

Talk of Fame Network


When I ran into Andre Reed last month, I asked him to act as an imaginary one-man  selection committee and nominate one former player or coach not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame for immediate induction. He didn’t have to think about his answer.

Tim Brown.

“There are so many different guys,” he said, “but if I’m talking about one guy who’s a receiver, it’s Tim.”

It’s easy to see why. When Brown retired, he was second in yards receiving, third in catches and scoring receptions and fifth in punt-return yards — the only player in league history to rank in the top five in receiving and return yards. He was chosen to the Pro Bowl nine times, more than any wide receiver outside of Jerry Rice, and set NFL records with 10 consecutive seasons of 75 or more catches and 147 straight games with more than one reception.

But he was more than an accomplished player. He was a complete one, someone who was accountable, reliable and durable — setting a league record for wide receivers with 176 straight starts. A member of the 1990’s all-decade team, he was teamed with Rice, Michael Irvin and Cris Carter, and quick now: What separates Brown from that group? Uh-huh, they’re in the Hall, and Tim Brown is not.

Critics tell me there’s a reason: Brown didn’t have a signature catch.  So describe Art Monk’s signature catch. Or Charlie Joiner’s. Or John Stallworth’s. They’re in the Hall of Fame because they made a slew of significant … not signature … catches, and there’s a big difference. But unlike Monk, Joiner and Stallworth, Brown made a slew of significant returns, too — becoming the oldest player in league history (he was 35) to return a punt for a touchdown.

I’ve also heard that his Hall-of-Fame candidacy is hurt because the Raiders weren’t all that successful, and, OK, I’ll buy that. But this just in, people: Brown went to one more Super Bowl than Cris Carter.

My fear with Tim Brown is that if he’s not elected soon he gets buried … maybe lost … in the tidal wave of receivers with numbers inflated by the passing revolution — with Marvin Harrison the first to climb over him. Harrison’s in his second year of eligibility as a Hall-of-Fame candidate, and if you polled each of the 46 selectors my guess is they’d tell you they prefer him to Brown.

Yet Brown had nine seasons with 1,000 or more yards. Harrison had eight. He also had Peyton Manning as his quarterback.

Brown has been a finalist the past five years, but last February he didn’t make the cut to 10. Harrison did, and that tells me something. It tells me Brown’s candidacy may have hit the wall, and that’s not good when you look at what’s ahead. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt join the list of candidates in 2015. Terrell Owens is up a year later. Then it’s Randy Moss.

I think you get the idea. Andre Reed certainly does.

“Believe me,” he said, “I’m glad I got in when I did. It would be very tough if (the Hall) would go by the same criteria it does now because 1,000 catches isn’t going to mean anything. Those guys need to be judged in their eras, and Timmy Brown is my era.”

The question, of course, is: Is Tim Brown his equal? If so, then he belongs in the Hall of Fame.


Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders






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  1. Dan
    September 2, 2014

    I think he belongs! Now you guys would know more then me but from everything I know he was a class guy also. Which I believe should also be a consideration.

    • September 2, 2014

      It doesn’t hurt, but it’s not a consideration. Guy’s record speaks for itself. Played with a lot of lousy QBs, yet excelled. I just worry that he my get forgotten with the wave of receivers that’s coming.

  2. Gary
    September 2, 2014

    There is no doubt Tim Brown belongs in the Hall. The biggest obstacle he faces is that he played on mediocre teams and did not get to show his stuff in exciting playoff games that people remember. Who threw the ball to Andre Reed? A Hall of Famer. Who threw the ball to Tim Brown? If you discount the brief Gannon era at the end of Brown’s career, the best QB Brown played with was Jeff Hostetler. Had Brown played with an All-Pro QB, his numbers would be even greater and he would be regarded as one of the best WRs of his era. The fact is: No one remembers the Raiders’ many, dull 20-17 losses when Brown was the entire Raider offense despite being double-teamed every play. Had Brown played with Montana/Young and Jerry Rice played with Jay Schroeder…I’ll stop there.

    • September 2, 2014

      Gary, you’re right, though I think Jerry Rice would’ve excelled if Schroeder were throwing to him. But you make a good point. Tim Brown did the best he could with sub-par teams and sub-par QBs. That record of 10 straight seasons with at least 75 catches is remarkable and speaks for itself. With the proliferation of receivers today I’m not sure you’ll see one guy challenge that record for a long, long time.

  3. September 8, 2014

    It seems only fitting that he be enshrined, given his stats in spite of the above stated circumstances.

    • September 8, 2014

      Made that argument to Rick and Ron on our weekly radio program. They’re not buying it. I’m with Reed. Think it’s time to get him in before avalanche of WRs with inflated numbers comes along.

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