One of the truly great players who has ever played the game, and obviously one of the truly great players that has ever played for the Raiders. ~ Al Davis
On Saturday, August 8th, the pinnacle of success for any NFL player will finally become realized for Timothy Donnell “Tim” Brown. After earning multiple All-Pro designations and setting multiple NFL and Raider records, “Mr. Raider,” as he is known by media and his adoring and loyal Raider Nation contingent, will become the twenty-fourth Raider selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
TB “gets busted” at this year’s National Football League’s Hall of Fame ceremony in Canton, Ohio, at the newly labeled Tom Benson Hall of Fame Stadium. With “the Bust” comes the fabled Hall of Fame Gold Jacket, and a Ring… a glistening bauble symbolic of Tim Brown’s successful career in football.
So, what got him there? Well, winning the Heisman Trophy didn’t hurt his chances any trailing his prestigious All-American collegiate career at Notre Dame. Clearly, winning the Heisman was signs of greater things to come.
Bidding a fond farewell to his life under the Golden Dome at Notre Dame, “Touchdown Timmy” was selected as the Los Angeles Raiders’ 1st round pick during the 1988 NFL Draft, and representing the sixth pick overall.
When I got to the Raiders, I realized one thing… that these folks had a legacy of greatness.
When the last few remaining words had been penned, and that final punctuating period placed from the telling of his seventeen year NFL career, TB ranked number two in NFL history with 14,934 yards receiving, number three, with 1,094 catches, and also number three, with 100 touchdown catches. As of this writing, “Mr. Raider” now ranks sixth in all time reception yardage, number five in receptions, and tied at number seven with Seattle Seahawks legend Steve Largent: a 1995 NFL Hall of Fame inductee.
So, whatta ya say we pull out the ol’ pigskin, check the pressure, to get it just right… and play a little catch with “Mr. Raider?”
ALIVE: Was induction into the Hall of Fame something that always ran alongside you with the process of football, or was it a dream that you knew, sat on the horizon?
TB: I was a basketball and track guy initially. I began to play football because I was good at it. My junior year in high school is really when I realized that I was a better football player than a basketball player. I didn’t make it in track going to the state finals when I competed in the long jump and ran the 400 on my high school track team — but still followed with track at Notre Dame. The football card is what trumped basketball and track. Coming out of Notre Dame, I thought one of two things are going to happen. I’m going to be a punt return/kickoff guy, or be a receiver. I was blessed. Both were realized. My first year, I made it to the pro bowl. My second year… I hurt my knee. Then, from my third to final seventeenth year, my whole thought was, “Let’s just get through this, and do it for the team.” Winning the championship – the Super Bowl – was the deal. You do this, and you’ve got a Hall of Fame career developing. The Hall of Fame stuff was really too far in the future to think about.
ALIVE: What has it meant to finally be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame, after so many near misses? Did it hit you emotionally?
TB: My thought initially… was that it’s about time! Dave Baker, from the NFL Hall Of Fame selection committee, is who came to the door of my hotel room to give me the news. He’s 6’-7” and weighs some 400lbs. He’s a very imposing, big man! He also acts as the Turk as well, and is sent to tell you that you didn’t make it. I’d been through this many times before [finally selected on fifth nomination]. But when I saw three cameramen standing around him this time, I felt something good, for sure, was happening… and it did, when he said, “Of eighty-seven hundred Hall of Famers, you’re a member of the greatest fraternity on earth. Congratulations!” At that point, Dave leaned in, and wrapped his giant arms around me and we hugged… while my family cheered behind me. I didn’t expect to get emotional, but I was extremely emotional about the moment, and it really hit me. There’s a lot of weight sitting on your shoulders when it comes to the Hall Of Fame. Not just with me, but with my wife, my agent and my family, too. Now this was something that wouldn’t rattle around in my head any longer, and I wouldn’t have to talk about it ever again. It was now done, and that weight was gone. I have to say — that it was the best feeling I’ve had, in a really long time!
ALIVE: What was the one biggest play during your NFL career that meant the most to you?
TB: When I came into the league after winning the Heisman Trophy and being the Raiders first round draft pick, I’m sure people were thinking, “Can he do all this amazing stuff again?” I really didn’t know. I knew I was going to try hard… that was a given. My first play in the NFL was a 97-yard kickoff return. Fifteen minutes into my first game, I had accomplished running one back for a touchdown. Now folks might be thinking, “Maybe this kid ‘is’ the real deal after all!” Being able to go forward, and not worrying about the crazy stuff, really freed me up with not owning expectations from others. That play catapulted me into the career I had. My thought was, “If you never return another kickoff again… I made it.” That play was so great for me, because it happened the first time I touched the ball.
ALIVE: What one player, or more, did you admire the most, look up to, and try to emulate with your play? Was he a childhood hero, or possibly a competitor, or teammate along the way?
TB: Growing up in Dallas, I loved the cowboys! Especially Roger Staubach, and Tony Dorsett. I obviously couldn’t emulate Roger, but I loved his toughness. Tony D on the other hand, was someone I thought I could emulate. That was until I got hit hard trying to run a dive play, and I realized right then — that I should be out playing wide receiver!
TB: Well, First… I’d have to start with my Pop. Dad to me, was a great role model, and taught me to be a man. Not a spiritual man… but a man. I would not have become the man I am today without his guidance. He was about accountability in life, and being responsible to your family. He was tough, life made him that way, and he owned a hard work ethic. He planted strong family values and virtues in me. I dedicated my book to him. Pop was the ultimate patriarch. Just like any father-son relationship, we had our ups and downs. But, God had a plan for both of us, and it couldn’t have turned out any better. I’ll admit that I was scared of him half the time, but whatever it took, to get it done, Pop got it done with me. I am grateful to be his son, and I love him for it. I wish he was still with us, so I could tell him again, just how grateful I am for all that he did.
Second, would be my pastor, Lafayette Whitley Sr. who I had known, and attended his church since I was twelve. Pastor Whitley taught me how to be a spiritual man. I think of him as my spiritual mentor. He told me that no matter how many Heisman’s, or other awards you win, it really doesn’t matter when it comes to living for God. It was tough for me to really grasp this early on because I was young and dumb. Doing what I was doing back then, I finally realized was not what God wanted me to do. My pastor was that much needed support to keep me on the path of Christian faith, and not step too far outside the lines later on.
And third, in terms of football and life, is Lou Holtz, my coach at Notre Dame. If not for him, I believe I wouldn’t have won the Heisman trophy. He was one of the most influential men in my life. He encouraged me, and told me that I could be the best player in the country. He saw something in me that was too close for me to see, and brought it out. What he did for me, was give me the strength to push harder, and it made me better. Without him as a mentor, I don’t end up a first round pick to the Raiders. This was life changing, because lower picks don’t give you the same opportunity for greater goals to be achieved with your career. Coach Holtz… got me there.
Tim was the best and most intelligent player I ever coached. Lou Holtz ~ Former Notre Dame Head Coach and TV Analyst
ALIVE: You dedicated your book to your Dad, but you also comment passionately about your Mother. What was the greatest trait she instilled in you?
TB: Godliness above all! She has been a pillar of faith, as far as walking what she talks! I joke sometimes about having Josephine faith! It doesn’t get any stronger than that!
ALIVE: What life, or football experience, profoundly affected your ego, and left you eating humble pie?
TB: What kept me humbled with football was knowing that one moment you are the hero, but the next, you can be the goat! In life, my mom told me that all the Heisman and Pro Bowl stuff was going to stay out of her house!! Inside, I was going to be “Timmy”— not Tim Brown!! To this day… that keeps me humble.
ALIVE: What’s next, after the Hall of Fame?
TB: The disposition of the platform that the Hall of Fame gives you is big. What it will do, is help me to better support the charities I am involved with like: www.FiveStarLife.org. Statistics show that seven thousand kids drop out of school each day. We want to keep those kids in school. The ones deemed to drop out of school; we’ve been able to help them graduate. Another is www.EthosEducationGroup.com. This organization is a character development group. Everson Walls — who grew up in Dallas like me, and played the bulk of his NFL career with Dallas — the two of us go around speaking to kids using character examples to get through tough situations. Then there is the http://www.911forkids.com that Howie Long encouraged me to get involved with in 1999, and I’ve done so since. It’s a program for fatherless boys that are paired with CHP mentors for the week. I have wanted to do this kind of stuff ever since I was a sophomore in college so others could have that, too. To further support the 9-1-1 For Kids, this year, I am again hosting the Annual 9-1-1 Golf Classic. This one is our 21st year. If you’re able, please sign up, and come out and support our cause in serving more kids, http://www.911golfclassic.com/index
TB: I tell them that I had many sleepless nights until I was twenty-nine, and knowing that I wasn’t doing what God wanted me to do. I say that deep down, I knew that only what I did for Christ, was going to last. Now I knew that all the great plays I made were happening for this reason. Once I got that down, it made me a better person. I say to those young kids I mentor, “You can do all you want, and do it well. But, if it’s not for God’s purpose, it’s for naught.”
ALIVE: Why does yours, and other peoples’ legacies matter?
TB: At the end of our time, if asked what is left behind, and the answer is only money and land… I believe in God’s eyes, we would have failed. Only what we do for Christ will last!
ALIVE: What one thing that occurred in your life, made, and left the greatest long lasting impact on your heart? How does that one etching struck there, affect what you do on a daily basis?
TB: There are a couple of things that happened. One was when my dad and I had a run in one night, things got crazy, and I thought he was going to kill me because he was intoxicated… I vowed that night that I would never touch alcohol, and I haven’t! Later, when I was 18, while swimming at the ocean, I had an epiphany while lying on the beach. In this vision, I saw that I had gotten too far out in the water, and I thought I was going to drown. While lying on the beach, the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “Just like you almost got too far out in the water naturally, spiritually, you can get too far out, and can’t get back, too.” Both left their mark on my heart and my mind, and I carry them as a boundary with things I do on a daily basis. It’s what helps keep my priorities in line.
ALIVE: Do you believe in destiny, and was it destiny for you to achieve what you have?
TB: Yes, I do. I believe God allows things to flow into our life, for us to use them, for His glory! My football accomplishments and this NFL Hall of Fame platform is not just for me to have a Gold Jacket, Bust and a Ring! It’s for me to use to get in doors, where maybe before the Hall of Fame; I couldn’t get in, and tell people about Christ.
We need men like Tim Brown in our world. Too many boys and teens lack a role model who can show them what being a man is all about. Too many fathers and leaders have forgotten or never learned what true manhood looks like. It isn’t hard to find the bad examples—we see them in the news all the time. Tim is one of those guys. He is living a life of significance, helping others better themselves through word and deed. ~ Lou Holtz
I met Tim Brown in 2014, at a Father’s Day weekend event where he was speaking about his new book, and knew that I had to get to know “Touchdown Timmy — Mr. Raider” better; it just seemed so natural, to do so. Hearing him share his story, I knew I had to learn what it was at the heart and soul of this champion, and what went into The Making of a Man.
Very soon, I discovered that there was something deeper that spurred his rise to football’s highest honor: the NFL Hall of Fame. Tim Brown is a man of conviction. He has a compassionate and caring heart for what matters most in life — love.
Tim walks his talk, and that broad, engaging smile of his inoculates your heart and soul with its imbibing infectiousness. He’s the “real deal” folks, and if you ever get the chance to meet “Mr. Raider” I know you’ll sense it in him, too.
To order Tim’s book or tho book Tim to speak at your next event visit website at: http://www.makingofaman.net/
Read more about “Mr. Raider” here:
Photos Courtesy The Oakland Raiders and Notre Dame University, and The 911 for Kids Foundation.