Tim Brown signed a one-day contract with the Oakland Raiders to finish his career with the team that selected him sixth overall in the 1988 NFL Draft. Brown only needs now to sit down in his easy chair and wait for the Pro Football Hall of Fame to come calling.
But should that call be made?
Brown has set some lofty numbers in the NFL with 1,094 receptions (third all-time) for 14,934 yards (second all-time), and 100 touchdowns (second all-time). That cannot be disputed. But Brown never distinguished himself as one of the most dominant receivers in the game, which should be the most vital criteria of a Hall of Fame enshrinement.
Fans did not flock to NFL stadiums to catch a glimpse of Brown. Fans never looked at the team schedule and said, "Hey, Tim Brown is coming to town in October, we need to get tickets." If anything, when a fan saw that the Raiders were coming to town they either bought body armor or went on vacation.
Teams did not design defensive packages to slow down the former Notre Dame standout. Brown topped the 100-reception mark only once in his career (104 in 1997) and reached double digits in touchdowns only twice (10 in 1995 and 11 in 2000). Brown's numbers are not even that impressive, instead a mere acknowledgement of his longevity. Browns numbers will seem less impressive in the next number of years as the NFL continues to turn into a pass-happy league where receivers are the beneficiary of rule changes.
When you average out Brown's numbers over 16 years (he played in only one game in 1989 so we won't count that year... The Hater Nation is fair) here is what you get:
Brown's average: 68 receptions, 933 yards, and 6 touchdowns.
Not exactly Hall of Fame numbers. Even his retirement did not garner big news. Instead it was pushed aside with the horse racing agate and buried under NFL stories such as fantasy football, Ricky Williams' weight gain (he must be smoking pot again) and a Steelers fan who was buried in his Rocky Bleier jersey.
Brown was a decent receiver for a lot of years, but falls into that category with Art Monk, Henry Ellard, and other receivers that were on the cusp of greatness but just could not do the kind of things that would push his team over the top.
Brown will eligible for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2010. That year's class will include former Cowboys running back and the NFL's all-time leading rusher Emmitt Smith. When you compare the careers of the two potential classmates, you quickly realize that there simply is no comparison.
Smith won numerous rushing titles, played through a separated shoulder to carry the Cowboys into the playoffs, was selected the NFL MVP in 1993, and won three Super Bowls. Smith was the most dominant player at his position during his era, set the single-season touchdown record and led the NFL in scoring in 1995. The Hater Nation has no love for the Cowboys, but it is obvious that Smith belongs in the Hall of Fame, while Brown does not.
Brown should be embarrassed to be mentioned in the same breath as a player such as Smith if he had any integrity. Instead he is a Raider and will likely be more than happy to hog the spotlight from a more deserving player.
NFL.com's Adam Schefter recently penned a column about Brown saying that he was an almost-certain first-ballot Hall of Fame selection. Yet, the only thing Schefter could really say about Brown was that he played a long time, was popular around the league (nine Pro Bowls), and that he started a lot of games for a down-trodden franchise.
Schefter actually proved that Brown was not a dominant player during his era and did not deserve to be in the Hall of Fame. Brown was merely was a very good player who did nothing to distinguish himself from other contemporaries of his era such as--Andre Reed, Andre Rison, Haywood Jeffries, Sterling Sharpe, Monk, and Ellard. Players, with possibly the outside exception of Reed, who do not deserve to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
There needs to be, as Peter King likes to say, a Hall of Very Good for players like Brown. He deserves that, but not the Pro Football Hall of Fame.