ALAMEDA (AP) — After watching fellow receivers Cris Carter and Andre Reed get that coveted Pro Football Hall of Fame call the past two years, Tim Brown hopes it’s finally time for his number to be called.
Brown is a finalist for a sixth straight year since first becoming eligible in 2010 and only has one other receiver to compete with in Marvin Harrison.
“I really think, not that this is my best shot, but now that I’m the veteran guy in the receiving group, I’m hoping that I will get a little bit more favor this time when it comes to this deal,” Brown said. “We’ll see what happens.”
Brown watched former teammate Jerry Rice get the honor in 2010 when Brown was first on the ballot. Then he became a casualty of a glut of qualified receivers with none getting enough support from the 46-person panel the next two seasons,
But with Carter going in in 2013 and Reed last year, there is less competition for Brown and Harrison when the panel sits down to vote on Saturday in Arizona.
“Certainly the logjam is not the same,” Brown said. “Obviously, Marvin Harrison is out there, so that’s one guy, not two guys.”
Brown called the process of waiting for the Hall of Fame “gut wrenching” and said it has been much harder on his close friends and family than on him.
Making the wait more grueling is the fact that Brown has seen some of the most influential people in his life — his father, former teammate Chester McGlockton and Raiders owner Al Davis — die during this time, denying them the chance to witness the honor if it comes.
“Those are three people that I won’t get an opportunity to shake their hand and get a congratulations from them,” he said. “Those are things that I don’t get the opportunity to enjoy. So from that standpoint, you can’t get those moments back. Will it be sweeter than it would have been? Absolutely not. I’ve said that since the day I lost those guys that not having those guys around, it’s going to make this process — even once you get in — it’s going to make it bittersweet.”
Brown, a Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame, arrived in the NFL in 1988 as a first-round pick of the Los Angeles Raiders. He had a prolific 17-year career, spending all but one of his seasons with the Raiders.
He is the NFL’s fifth all-time leading receiver with 1,094 catches, sixth in yardage (14,934) and tied for seventh in touchdown catches with 100. He also had 3,320 yards on punt returns and 1,235 yards on kickoff returns, with his 19,682 all-purpose yards ranking fifth all-time.
“For me, I think the one thing that I am proud of is the fact that no matter who the quarterback was, who the GM was, who the offensive coordinator was, I was able to go out and put up numbers,” he said. “That’s the one thing that I am super proud of and the one thing that I think sets me apart from anybody that is out there.”
Brown said he tried to leave the Raiders at one point to become teammates with John Elway on the Broncos but Davis wouldn’t let him leave. While Brown wonders what would have happened if he had gotten the chance to play with a quarterback like Elway, he said he’s happy he stayed with the Raiders for nearly his entire career.
The Raiders rarely surrounded Brown with great offensive players in his tenure until late in his career when he got to play with Rice and Rich Gannon. His other quarterbacks during his career were players like Jeff Hostetler, Jay Schroeder, Jeff George, Vince Evans and Donald Hollas.
That’s the one point Brown said he would like voters to remember on Saturday.
“I would ask them one question, ‘You name one other receiver that was willing to trade positions with Tim Brown? Name one guy that would say, ‘I’ll give up Peyton Manning, I’ll give up (Joe) Montana, (Steve) Young,’” Brown said. “Jerry and I have had this conversation for years. Michael Irvin and I had that conversation for years. I used to ask him all the time at the Pro Bowl, ‘You want to switch with me? C’mon, switch with me.’ But he would never take me up on that offer. (laughing) I probably did it the hard way.”