Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown, who provided the iconic play of the Oakland Raiders’ first Super Bowl title, died on Tuesday. He was 78.
The Raiders and Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Brown’s death but did not reveal a cause. He had been dealing with cancer.
“The entire Hall of Fame family mourns the loss of a great man,” Hall of Fame President David Baker said in a statement. “Willie Brown was the epitome of the Raiders motto of ‘commitment to excellence’ that was integral to the team’s sustained success.
He embodied virtues like passion, integrity, perseverance and always led by example. His character, on and off the field, made all those around him better.”
Al Davis acquired Brown for the Raiders in a trade from Denver in 1967 in one of the best moves he made during his Hall of Fame career running the Raiders.
Brown went on to have a brilliant career over 12 years with Oakland, highlighted by his 75-yard interception return for a touchdown against Minnesota that helped the Raiders win their first Super Bowl following the 1976 season.
“His legendary performance on the field changed the way the cornerback position was played and his valued guidance as a coach, mentor and administrator permeated the organization and touched countless individuals both on and off the field,” the team said in a statement.
Brown was one of the game’s best lockdown cornerbacks and fit perfectly in Davis’ preferred bump-and-run style of defense on the Raiders.
He intercepted 54 passes, was a first-team All-Pro five times in the AFL and NFL and made the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1984.
His most memorable play came in the Super Bowl against the Vikings on Jan. 9, 1977. With the Raiders leading the game 26-0 in the fourth quarter, Brown intercepted a pass from Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton and raced for the score, prompting the iconic radio call from Raiders announce Bill King: “He looks and throws … intercepted by the Oakland Raiders Willie Brown at the 30, 40, 50 … he’s going all the way! … Old Man Willie! … Touchdown Raiders!”
The Jets are disappointed and angry quarterback Sam Darnold’s comment about him “seeing ghosts” made it on air during the “Monday Night Football” game.
Darnold was wearing a microphone for ESPN’s broadcast of New York’s 33-0 loss to New England.
After the third of his five turnovers in the game, the Jets’ frustrated quarterback was sitting on the sideline in the second quarter when he made his comment that quickly went viral on social media.
“That was one of those things that was really disappointing to hear about after the game,” coach Adam Gase said.
“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen that where somebody that was mic’d up, that a comment like that was allowed to be aired. It bothers me. ”