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June 18, 2023

Eagles great and Hall of Famer Bob Brown passes away at 81

A tackle whose size made him unmistakable for his era, Brown spent the first five seasons of his decorated career with the Eagles.

Hall of Fame tackle Bob Brown, who was an Eagle through the first five years of his decorated career, passed away Friday at 81, the Pro Football Hall of Fame announced on Saturday

The second overall pick by the Eagles out of Nebraska in the 1964 NFL Draft, Brown was an offensive lineman unmistakable during his era at an intimidating 6-foot-4 and 280 pounds, using that size – and a mean streak to match – to block his way to six Pro Bowls and five First Team All-Pro nominations, with three of each being earned in Philadelphia. 

At his request, the Eagles traded him to the Los Angeles Rams ahead of the 1969 season, where he spent another two successful years before being dealt again, this time to the Oakland Raiders and legendary coach John Madden. 

With the Raiders, Brown earned one more Pro Bowl nod in 1971, but injuries began to mount and ultimately forced him into retirement after one more run in 1973 and 126 total NFL games. 

In 2004, 31 years later, Canton came calling. 

“Bob Brown played offense with a defensive guy’s personality,” Madden said of Brown about their time together in Oakland. “He believed that he could hit you with his forearm and take a quarter out of you. In other words, if he really hit you, you wouldn’t play hard until the next quarter.”

“I didn’t try to finesse guys,” Brown once told NFL Films. “I just tried to beat up on them for 60 minutes.”

And opponents felt it, with an impact that still echoes all these years later. 

“Bob was the most intimidating player I’ve ever seen," Gene Upshaw, a fellow Hall of Famer who was a teammate of Brown's in Oakland, once said. "I had opponents come up to me during games and say, ‘Gene, tell Bob to stop hitting me.’”

The message was never received and an indelible mark was made in football's history because of it. 

“Bob Brown demonstrated different personalities on and off the field,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement. “On the field, he was as fierce an opponent as any defensive linemen or linebacker ever faced. He used every tactic and technique – and sometimes brute force – to crush the will of the person across the line from him. And took great pride in doing so.

“Yet off the field, he demonstrated a quiet, soft-spoken and caring nature that his son, Robert Jr., captured eloquently when he presented his dad for enshrinement in 2004. The Hall extends its thoughts and prayers to [his wife] CeCe and Robert Jr. for their loss.”

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