State Your Case: Tim Brown

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.

Tim Brown photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders
Tim Brown photo courtesy of the Oakland Raiders

Courtesy of the Oakland Raiders

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