Ruben Brown is not a household name … at least not in households outside of Buffalo.
Yet the former Bills’ offensive guard went to nine Pro Bowls (including eight straight), was named to four All-Pro teams and is a member of the Bills’ 50th anniversary team. Moreover, he was named to more Pro Bowls than everyone in Buffalo Bills' history outside of Bruce Smith.
Nevertheless, for some reason that's not clear, he failed to appear on the Pro Football Hall-of-Fame’s preliminary list until last month when, finally, he joined 107 others. Forget being a finalist or semifinalist. Ruben Brown's name never made it on any ballot, and we find that as troubling as we do puzzling.
So we found Brown, now in Buffalo, to see if he did, too … and we were surprised by his answer.
“I’m not confounded,” he said on the latest Talk of Fame Network broadcast. “I know I'm an offensive lineman … and I know there’s not much notoriety. When I played during my playing career I did not have the name of a Willie Roaf or a Larry Allen or Randall McDaniel or those guys like that who I actually look up to and are my friends. So not at all surprised.”
Well, we are. You’d think someone with Brown’s resume would get more attention from the Hall … but, then again, you’d be wrong. Voters clearly are missing something.
“I guess the voters are missing my competition, the guys I played against,” Brown said. “I’m sad to say one of my good buddies, one of my competitors, is no longer around because he was so encouraging to me as a rookie all through my early years -- and that’s Cortez Kennedy.
“He’s the only guy to get me for two sacks in a game … and I’ve seen him do worse to other guys. I really looked up to him. He was always very encouraging to me. And, in that Cortez Kennedy voice, he’d always say' ‘Hey, Rube, you really need the jacket.’ I take pride in that because I know what everybody else thought of him."
Of course, Ruben Brown doesn’t have the jacket – at least not one that’s gold. So we asked Brown how he would measure offensive linemen for Canton.
“Ask their competitors,” he said. “They’re not going to lie. Ask the other guys who played alongside them. And then go watch the film because the film at the end of the day … the film was what got me into college.
"Back in those days, they couldn’t fly all over the place and find people. A tape was sent, somebody saw it, and they’d say, 'That’s the guy.' When I got to college, I said, 'Get on the field and do my thing until I played the game.' And they watched the tape, and they said, ‘All right, he has it.’ When I got to the NFL, they played the tape, they saw it and said, ‘He has it.’
“So, if anyone wants to make a judgment on whether I got it or not, I would suggest: Just watch the film. Because that’s what everyone’s done in the past.”