NFL Hall of Famer Bob Brown dies at 81


Bob Brown was one of his era’s most feared blockers. (Photo by Malcolm W. Emmons/Sporting News via Getty Images via Getty Images)

Bob Brown, one of the best offensive linemen of the 1960s and an inductee to the Pro Football and College Football Hall of Fame, died Friday. He was 81 years old.

Over the course of his 10-season career, Brown played for the Philadelphia Eagles, Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders between 1964 and 1973. He was a six-time Pro Bowler, five-time first-team All-Pro, four-time second-team All-Pro and a member of the NFL’s 1960s All-Decade team.

The Hall of Fame remembers Brown as a widely feared blocker who could bring the pain as much as any player was allowed to do on offense, with a collection of quotes from his coaches, teammates and opponents.

John Madden: “Bob Brown played offense with a defensive guy’s personality. 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.”

Gene Upshaw: “Bob was the most intimidating player I’ve ever seen. I had opponents come up to me during games and say, ‘Gene, tell Bob to stop hitting me.’”

Carl Eller: “Bob Brown was probably my most feared competitor. He would strike out at you. His intent was to do bodily harm. He wanted to inflict pain.”

Tommy Nobis: “Bob hit me, and it felt like the world turned upside down. I’ve never been hit like that before.”

The second overall pick in the 1964 NFL Draft, Brown was a unanimous All-American in his final season at Nebraska and is one of only three players to have his number retired by the storied program, alongside Tom Novak and Johnny Rodgers.

His pro career began with the Eagles, though the Denver Broncos also selected him fourth overall in the 1964 AFL Draft. Brown requested a trade from the Eagles after five seasons, citing “personal reasons” per the HOF, then landed with the Rams in a trade that included four other players.

Brown was traded to the Raiders two seasons later and became an integral part of one of the best offensive lines of all time. In addition to Brown, the 1971 Raiders line included four other Hall of Famers in Upshaw, center Jim Otto and tackles Art Shell and Ron Mix. Tight end Dave Casper was also a Hall of Famer.

Retirement came prematurely for Brown, whose knee issues forced him to end his career in 1973. His days as a punishing blocker ended, but Hall of Fame president Jim Porter noted he remained a caring father:

“Bob Brown demonstrated different personalities on and off the field,” Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement Saturday. “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.”

Brown was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame in 1993 and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2004.