It was something that Tim Brown had heard soon after retiring from the NFL in 2005, and it’s something he’s often heard since.
“Of course I had heard, ‘Oh, you should be a first-ballot Hall of Famer,” said the former Raiders receiver who this year is one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“It would just be the ultimate,” Brown said. “At the end of the day, you look up and you’re in the position to be immortalized with the greats of the greats. It’s an incredible opportunity.”
But the opportunity of being enshrined in Canton, Ohio, has been marred by demoralizing rejection. Despite being a finalist two years running and the leading receiver in franchise history, this will be Brown’s third go.
“The thing that drives me nuts is I have no control over this whole process,” said Brown, who over 17 seasons was always in charge of his own football fate.
He caught 1,094 balls, gained 14,934 yards receiving and scored 100 touchdowns receiving.
But now, he waits in the company of fellow receivers Chris Carter and Andre Reed.
“Just sitting back waiting, it’s very nerve-racking,” Brown said. “But at the same time, I know thousands of other players would love to be in this position.”
The first time Brown’s number was called as a finalist in 2010, he was in the company of Jerry Rice, arguably the greatest receiver of them all, and running back Emmitt Smith, for which the same could be said for his position.
Rice and Smith were elected. Brown wasn’t.
“It was quite the feeling when it didn’t happen,” he said of 2010. “So from that standpoint, last year wasn’t as bad.”
While at Notre Dame, Brown became the first wide receiver to win the Heisman Trophy. That was 24 years ago, and since then, there has been only one other player of the same position to receive that honor, which recently has been quarterback-dominated.
The Hall of Fame, in Brown’s estimations, has also been in favor of the passer.
“It seems to be a little unfair that they would say, ‘Yeah, the quarterbacks can get in, but the receivers can’t get in,’” Brown said.
This year, unlike in previous ones, Brown hasn’t put his life on hold for the sake that he might make the cut. The past year, however, has been one of loss.
In 2011, Brown buried his father. Also, his friend and former teammate Chester McGlockton died, along with Raiders owner Al Davis.
“I would certainly have liked for [Davis] to be able to see me going in to the Hall,” Brown said. “Losing those three men and not having them there for this ceremony, it’s going to make this thing bittersweet altogether.”
A look at former Raiders receiver Tim Brown’s highlights. He is one of 15 finalists for the Hall of Fame; inductees will be announced Saturday.
9 1,000-yard seasons during career (third all-time)
100 Career touchdowns receiving (tied for sixth all-time)
1,094 Career catches (fifth all-time)
14,934 Career yards receiving (fourth all-time)
17 Seasons spent in the NFL (16 with Raiders)