InsideTheEagles.com

Featured Article By JoePhila and his posse(listed below)

 

 

The Philadelphia Eagles...the best team in the NFL
A Tribute to Jerome Brown

Many men have worn Eagles green throughout the years. One of the most beloved, by fans and teammates alike, was Jerome Brown.

On Feburary 4, 1965, in Brooksville, Florida, Annie Bell and Willie Brown had a baby boy. They named him Willie Jerome Brown III. Jerome was a great athelete as early as Junior High School. He starred not only on the football team, but also in baseball and basketball at Parrott Middle School in Brooksville.Jerome was already six feet tall and over 230 pounds in Junior High School. He had to hold back in football practices so he wouldn't hurt his teammates. He later attended Hernando High School where he lettered in baseball, basketball and football. He earned a scholarship to attend the University of Miami. Jerome was a freshman on Miami's 1983 National Championship team.

During the 1986 season, Jerome was a consensus All-American at Miami. The Hurricanes finished the regular season undefeated, ranked #1 in both polls, and were set to meet Penn State in the 1987 Fiesta Bowl. This would be the fourth year in a row that he would be starting in a bowl game. There was some controversy involved in this game.The Miami players,led by Brown, arrived at Tempe wearing military fatigues, they also walked out on a media event to honor both teams. The game itself had no controversy, but was a great game. Penn State won 14-10 when Pete Giftopoulus intercepted a Vinny Testeverde pass at the goal line with 18 seconds left in the game. Jerome finished his miami career with 21 sacks,19 tackles for loss, 5 fumbles forced and 4 fumble recoveries. He was also a finalist for the 1986 Outland Trophy and the Lombardi Award.

In 1987, The Eagles used their first round draft pick (9th overall) to select Jerome Brown out of Miami. Coach Buddy Ryan immediately named him starting right defensive tackle. He joined Reggie White, Clyde Simmons, and Mike Pitts to form one of the best defensive lines in the league. This was also a reunion with Reggie White, Jerome had looked up to White ever since he had attended a High School football camp where White was one of the instructors while playing for Tennessee. Despite hand and elbow injuries, and only playing 12 games, Jerome finished the season with 4 sacks and two interceptions. He was also voted to the NFL all rookie team and defensive rookie of the year. The Eagles finished the season with a 7-8 record.

1988 was a good year, Stats-wise J erome had 5 sacks and one interception. These stats do not tell the real story of his contribution to the team. he was a real force in the middle of the defensive line, often being double teamed, he was still very effective against the run. On passing downs, even when he didn't get a sack, He occupied offensive linemen enough to allow the defensive ends White and Simmons the opportunity to get to the quarterback. The Eagles finished that year 10-6, but unfortunately lost to Chicago 20-12 in the fog bowl.

Although Jerome was becoming a big star in the NFL, He never forgot his roots. He returned to Brooksville every offseason. With his first paycheck from the Eagles he bought his parents a new house. Jerome also bought himself a house just outside of Brooksville. He was his hometowns hero. A lot of people considered Jerome a bad boy, and to an extent maybe he was. He did like to drive his cars fast and liked to cause trouble, things like showing up late for team flights. Buddy Ryan had a strict rule that on a road trip all team members had to wear a jacket and tie, most of the time, jerome had to borrow a tie from a teammate just so buddy would let him on the flight. He never seemed to take anything seriously, but no one could stay mad at him. Jerome would flash his grin, or say something funny and it always eased the tension and made everyone smile or laugh. He was like a big overgrown kid that would get on your nerves, but also makes you smile.

Despite his outward image, Jerome was a very giving person. Without fanfare or publicity, he was always willing contribute when someone needed help. Everything from helping out families with medical bills, to buying his high school football team new uniforms. He participated in charity events to raise money for less fortunate people, to just hanging out with kids that needed some direction.Jerome also helped out once by renting two Greyhound buses to take 70 youngsters to a football clinic before the superbowl in Tampa after the school district that was supposed to supply transportation backed out at the last minute. He did all this because he enjoyed it, not to promote his image or make himself a hero.

1989 was a very good year for Jerome, he finished the season with 10.5 sacks playing for one of the best defenses ever.The team finished second in the division with an 11-5 record and lost in the wildcard playoff game,21-7, to the Los Angeles Rams.

1990 was not Jeromes best year, he recorded only one sack. The team once again made the playoffs only to lose in the wildcard game, 20-6, to the Washington Redskins. Brown was voted to his first pro-bowl after this season, after being slighted the year before. Buddy Ryan was also let go as coach of the Eagles after the 1990 season. Jerome recieved a lot of criticism after this season, from both the media and the team owner, for being out of shape and not performing during the previous season. He returned to Brooksville and rededicated himself by building a gym in his house and getting in better shape for the next season.

The off season workouts paid off for Jerome in 1991. he returned to his old form and recorded nine sacks for the year, and was chosen for his second consecutive probowl appearence. Under new coach Rich Kotite, the Eagles failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 1987.

After the season, Jerome returned home again. A great story that tells a lot about Jerome happened in his home town. The Ku Klux Klan was having a rally in town one day. Jerome decided not to stand for this, and ruined their rally by pulling up next to them in his Bronco with the huge speakers and blasted rap music during their speeches. Needless to say, Jerome won this battle. The summer of 1992 also was the year that he organized the first annual Jerome Brown football clinic for the kids in Brooksville. He was joined by many of his team-mates, including Reggie White, Seth Joyner, Randall Cunningham, and many others. Jerome once again was giving back to the Community.

I will never forget June 25, 1992. During that time, I was working at a job where I spent a lot of time on the road.I always had WIP on the radio and was looking forward to the Eagles football season coming up soon. Howard Eskin was the announcer and said he was waiting for details but there is a report that Jerome brown was involved in a car accident in Florida. My thoughts were that I hope he wasn't hurt and would be ready to play when the season started, This was Jerome Brown, I figured I'd see him on the news that night Joking around and wondering why everyone was making a big deal out of a little car accident. A few minutes later, Eskin came back on and announced that Jerome Brown, along with his nephew Gus, was killed in the car accident. I had to pull off the road and sat in a parking lot for over 30 minutes, waiting for Howard to say he made a mistake. Unfortunately, all he could do was confirm the tragic news. On that day, the Eagles did not just lose a great player, We all lost a great man, a hero, and (even though most of us didn't know him personally) someone we considered a friend. This was truly the most tragic day in Eagles history.

Jerome was buried in his hometown of Brooksville. As a tribute to Jerome, all the Eagles players passed by,took off their ties and placed them on the casket.

September 6, 1992 was the season opener for the Eagles. The game was a sellout, but I don't think any of us there really cared about the game. We were there to Honor Jerome. In a very touching ceremony before the game, Jeromes parents were presented with a framed #99 jersey. There was a moment of silence for Jerome and Gus. I have never heard the Vet that quiet,the only sounds were a few muffled sobs which echoed throughout the stadium. Then there was a tremendous cheer when Seth Joyner announced that no one would ever wear #99 for the eagles again. The Eagles did win that game,15-13 against the Saints.

Jerome passed on, after all too short a time with us, over a decade ago. His memory will never die. His football camp for kids continued every year, and on may 20, 2000, The Jerome Brown Community Center opened in Brooksville. I am sure Jerome is looking down and smiling about what he started.

Special thanks to Cheryl,Eaglegram,GoLong,Brkmsn,Sean_sec227,Demps,Jerome99rip,and Moloko9 for all their help in providing research links and pictures for this page.

Illustration by Jerry Thierolf of jtillustrations.com

 

 

 

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Copyright 2003. Jules Pilla

Not affiliated with the Philadelphiqa Eagles or the NFL.