Many in New England consider Troy Brown to be one of the all-time great Patriots and the epitome of what the organization stands for today.
On Saturday, the Patriots will induct Brown into the organization’s Hall of Fame and has invited the public to celebrate the momentous occasion.
The ceremony is free and begins at 5 p.m. in the Patriot Place Plaza adjacent to The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.
Brown will be the 19th member (18th player) inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame and just the second elected on his first year of eligibility – quarterback Drew Bledsoe was inducted last year on his first try.
“On behalf of the team and personally, congratulations [to] Troy [Brown] on his selection into the Patriots Hall of Fame,” said Patriots head coach Bill Belichick. “It’s certainly a great tribute to a player that really deserves the recognition. I had the great pleasure and honor, really, of coaching him when he was here in ’96, my first year here when I was coaching the defensive backs, working against him in practice every day as a secondary coach. Then as a head coach, just having him on the team and the important role that he had both as a player, captain, veteran player and ultimately a player that played in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams – very well and in some very big games. He meant a lot to me and meant a lot to this football team and the organization. Congratulations to Troy and his family; great weekend and well deserved.”
Brown spent his entire 15-season NFL career with the Patriots (1993-2007) after being drafted by the team in the eighth round (198th overall) of the 1993 NFL Draft. The 5-foot-10-inch, 196-pound receiver, punt returner and defensive back retired as the Patriots’ all-time leading receiver with 557 career receptions and as the team’s all-time leading punt returner with 252 career returns.
Brown finished ranked second in team history with 6,366 career receiving yards and was tied for the franchise record with three punt returns for touchdowns. Brown played in 192 games, placing him fourth on the franchise’s all-time games played list, and his 15 seasons with the franchise tied Julius Adams for the second-longest tenure in a Patriots uniform behind Steve Grogan’s franchise-record 16 seasons.
Brown reflected on his career and looked ahead to Saturday’s induction while being fitted for his Patriots Hall of Fame jacket at The Hall at Patriot Place presented by Raytheon.
“It just brings back a lot of memories and hopefully I’ll see a lot of familiar faces that I haven’t seen in awhile,” Brown said. “I think this is a great way to cap off what everybody – Bill [Belichick] was talking about a great career that I put together for myself with the help of so many people – it’s a great way to cap that off. I don’t want to say bring it to an end or close it out, but just to cap it off. You can’t get any greater honor than this when you’re a Patriot.”
Belichick, too, reflected on Brown’s career during a recent conference call with media.
“I can’t think of anybody more deserving to go in than him,” Belichick said of Brown. “Special player – came in very unheralded, worked his way up on the roster offensively. Returned kicks, ended up playing for us defensively, championships, played at a very high level and played his best football in big games. Troy was a great leader. Worked as hard as anybody, unselfishly, always did what we asked him to do from a team standpoint whether it was block, catch passes, return kicks, cover kicks, cover receivers. He truly was a good player in all three phases of the game, an outstanding player offensively and in the kicking game. Always did it for the good of the team and he was a big reason why we won a lot of games while I was coaching while he was here. You can never really replace a guy like that; he’s just special. Very deserving.”
Brown was a five-time co-captain for the club (2002-06) and earned Pro Bowl honors in 2001. In 2004, he added defense to his resume as he saw significant action in the defensive backfield and finished second on the team with three interceptions. Brown’s significant contributions in all three phases of the game – offense, defense and special teams – made him one of the most versatile and beloved players in the history of the Patriots franchise.
Brown was also a key contributor to each of the Patriots’ three Super Bowl winning seasons. In 2001, Brown led the team with 18 postseason receptions as New England won its first world championship in Super Bowl XXXVI. In that Super Bowl against the St. Louis Rams, Brown led the team with six receptions and 89 yards, including a key 23-yard grab on the game-winning drive.
Two years later, he tied for the team lead with 17 playoff receptions as the Patriots won Super Bowl XXXVIII over Carolina. He was again a key contributor in that game, finishing second on the team with eight receptions, including three grabs on the game-winning drive. In 2004, Brown played on offense, defense and special teams in all three playoff games, recording a total of five receptions and six tackles during New England’s Super Bowl XXXIX title run.
Brown spoke about some of his favorite memories from those championship runs, including his punt return for a touchdown in the 2002 AFC Championship game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
“That was probably one of my all-time favorites because it was against Pittsburgh,” Brown said of the play. “My brother was a Pittsburgh fan growing up; I happened to be a Cowboys fan, [and] as you know the Cowboys got beat up by Pittsburgh all the time in the ‘70s. They really didn’t like them, so what better way to get them back than to stick it to them yourself? That was a huge, huge play in my career and in the Patriots franchise history. It gave us an opportunity to – I know this cliché or whatever, but nobody gave us a shot, nobody gave us a chance to win and we went out there and handled our business the way we were supposed to.”
Another was the last offensive series in Super Bowl XXXVI when the Pats drove down the field to set up Adam Vinatieri’s game-winning field goal against the St. Louis Rams.
“It was just everybody being extremely calm,” Brown said of the offense on that last drive. “There really was not a lot of panic for the situation that it was. I think a lot of that had to do with the way Tom [Brady] came into the huddle to start that drive. He came into the huddle, he gave us the two plays and he didn’t have a look of fear in his eye. I’ve always said it’s important when a lot of people react to the way their leader acts. He came in, we were on the 17-yard line after my big return out of the end zone. He came in just as calm as he could be. He was a young guy himself with a banged up ankle. We got the drive off to a pretty good start, hitting [J.R.] Redmond a couple times and getting out of bounds. That entire time nobody showed any signs of panic or desperation; we were in it together.”
As for being inducted into the Patriots Hall of Fame, Brown said he was honored to be the first of what will be many from those championship teams to be inducted.
“All these things are kind of just falling in my lap I guess,” Brown said. “I never really looked at it that way. It’s a long list of guys coming up behind me. To be one of the first of that group of guys that set such a great example for the way New England does things, not only New England but teams around the league now are trying to model themselves after the Patriots – being the first of that group of guys to come along, it says a lot. I feel like I tried to do things the right way and approach the game the right way and I have a lot of respect for the game and the people who played it. You’ll see guys like Tedy [Bruschi], and all those guys, Rodney [Harrison] and Ty [Law] and all those guys come along in the next few years and make the voting hard for you guys, too. I had it easy – not really easy; I had Bill Parcells and Fred Marion, but when you talk about those guys, they’re recent and have a lot more fanfare here in the New England area. Again, it does mean a lot to me to be the first of that group of guys to be going into the Hall of Fame; start lining them up.”
Patriots Hall of Famers
Name with their year of induction is listed below:
- John Hannah (1991)
- Nick Buoniconti (1992)
- Gino Cappelletti (1992)
- Bob Dee (1993)
- Jim Lee Hunt (1993)
- Steve Nelson (1993)
- Vito “Babe” Parilli (1993)
- Mike Haynes (1994)
- Steve Grogan (1995)
- Andre Tippett (1999)
- Bruce Armstrong (2001)
- Stanley Morgan (2007)
- Ben Coates (2008)
- Jim Nance (2009)
- Sam Cunningham (2010)
- Jon Morris (2011)
- Drew Bledsoe (2011)
- Troy Brown (2012)
- William “Billy” Sullivan (2009)