My first football hero, Larry Brown, Jr., is still my favorite player. He didn’t stay healthy enough to actually be elected to the NFL Hall of Fame, but if they’d had the medical technology they do now he might have been able to come back from having his knee torn up all the time. He wasn’t the biggest guy or the fastest guy, and I didn’t appreciate what he was doing at the time, but video of his playing days shows that he ran with as much heart and disregard for personal safety as anyone ever has. George Allen was a defensive coach so he tended to play it close to the vest on offense. That meant handing the ball to Brown about a million times a game and letting him hurl his body into the opposition. Everybody in the stadium knew it was coming, but on balance it was more effective than it had a right to be.
This was not a smart way to treat such a valuable asset; by his fourth year in the league you can see he’s practically running on one leg.
Even so, he was only the second player in league history to run for 5,000 yards in his first five seasons (a feat O.J. Simpson matched the same year with his 2,000-yard season). He didn’t get much farther than that, and he isn’t remembered as much as he should be (in my opinion), but I was happy to see him included in this picture when I pulled into Canton, OH.
Granted, the picture is of his efforts being largely thwarted as the Dolphins defeated the Redskins in Super Bowl VII to complete their perfect season, but it made this fan happy to see him remembered at all. Brown was the NFL’s Offensive Player of the Year that year, despite missing the final two regular season games to injury. I think about him sometimes when things get tough.