I liked Brown, who was called Zeus, because he was mean. I mean, really mean. Not in a cheap shot sort of way. But in a relenteless, you punch me, I'm going to punch you back twice as hard, sort of way. "He was the original Raven," linebacker Ray Lewis said. "He set the tone for how we were going to play tough and physical, backing down from no opponent."
"We just found out before the end of practice," said former teammate Harry Swayne. "We were close friends. It's tough, it's tough. I talked to him a month ago and told him, 'Zeus, you didn't have to block half the people you played against because they were scared of you.' He was a puppy dog, a big old puppy dog with a little bit of a bark. He had a lot of friends around the league. He was one of the best guys. It's a tough loss."One of the biggest concerns Brown expressed to me was that he'd always be remembered for what happened in 1999. He was hit in the eye with a penalty flag from an over-aggressive game official. The flag caused massive damage to Brown's eye. He eventually reached an injury settlement with the NFL but was never quite the same after that.
Brown died on Friday at the age of 40. Ravens players who knew him are devastated and this is indeed some of the saddest news I've heard this year.
So I just wanted to say this. Brown wasn't without flaws just like the rest of us but he shouldn't be remembered for that one incident. Remember him in total context. A great offensive lineman who never quit, who never stopped, had the unending loyalty of his teammates, long after he left football, and was one of the NFL's great fighters.