Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams Legendary Defensive Tackle Roger Brown Dead at 84

by Matthew Memrick
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Legendary defensive tackle Roger Brown, who played with the Detroit Lions and L.A. Rams, died Friday at 84.

The longtime player was known for his aggressive style and relentless play on the college and pro football field. 

According to Deadline, family members did not say how the College Football Hall of Famer died.

Brown No Ordinary Player

In nine seasons between two teams, Brown was a six-time Pro Bowl player. After seven seasons with the Detroit Lions, he joined Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy, and Merlin Olsen as the “Fearsome Foursome” in Los Angeles.

Notably, he made the Pro Bowl in his first L.A. season.

Brown’s 300-pound, 6-foot-5 frame compounded the menacing stature. But that didn’t slow down his speed.

Brown was born in 1934 in Virginia and went on to play at football powerhouse Maryland-Eastern Shore. He was a freshman in 1956.

Years later, Brown recounted his time when players shared helmets and bought their own shoes. Brown, who wore size 14s shoes, was called “Rhino foot” by one of the coaches.

“That school was so small that you could yell from one side of campus to the other and tell somebody to come on over,” Brown told The Baltimore Sun. “We had maybe 250 students, but we could play football.”

The player also developed a head-slap move that worked well before the NFL outlawed the play in 1977.

“In college, we’d tape flip-flops [shower shoes] to our hands and whap guys during games. One of our assistants, Earl Banks [later Morgan State’s head coach] always said, ‘If you can get a lineman’s head going one way, his body has to follow or else his head is coming off.’”

The former Detroit Lions star joked to the paper that, “if that move had been illegal back then, I’d still be paying the NFL in fines.”

Brown Going Pro

The Detroit Lions drafted him in 1960.

According to Deadline, one of Brown’s impressive games included sacking Green Bay star quarterback Bart Starr seven times in one game. One even went for safety.

“Roger Brown will always hold a special place in our team’s history,” Detroit Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. 

“A member of the Lions’ esteemed ‘Fearsome Foursome’ of the 1960s with Alex Karras, Darris McCord, and Sam Williams, Roger’s career accomplishments solidify his legacy alongside some of the all-time greats of our game. We are deeply saddened to learn of his passing, and we extend our heartfelt condolences to his wife, Kay, and the entire Brown family.”

Leaving Football

Years after Brown got out of football, a Baltimore Sun reporter interviewed him about his life as a restaurateur. When asked how he became skinny after his 300-pound playing weight, he responded:

“My goal now is to sell the food, not eat it,” Brown said.

After football, the former Detroit Lion was a successful businessman in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia. 

He is survived by his wife, Kay.

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