Tim Brown yearns for Hall house call

2/3/2011 - NFL Tim Brown

DALLAS -- If Tim Brown is selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday, he undoubtedly will think of Dante Jones.

If Notre Dame had not been recruiting Jones, Brown would not have ended up in South Bend, Ind., won a Heisman Trophy or had a 17-year career in the NFL.

Dallas' Woodrow Wilson High School is the only public school in the country to produce two Heisman Trophy winners -- Brown and Davey O'Brien -- but it was not a football school when Brown attended.

"We went 4-25-1," Brown said. "The school was built for soccer. We had a good soccer team, a good baseball team. We were so bad that most of the games were not close at all."

As a senior, Brown played against Skyline High School, and Jones, who ended up at Oklahoma and had an eight-year NFL career as a linebacker, was being recruited by a lot of schools, including Notre Dame.

"It was a Thursday night game, and we played at old Franklin Stadium," Brown remembered. "I had the pleasure of scoring four touchdowns -- a kick return, punt return, a long catch and a long run. They averaged about 80 yards per touchdown. We won the game, and the next night, the coach at Notre Dame was on the stoop of my coach's office trying to figure out who I was and why I wasn't on his list.

"In 27 years of playing football, that was the only time I scored four touchdowns in a game."

For the second straight year, Brown, a former wide receiver, is a finalist for the Hall of Fame. He is hoping to gain entry into football immortality this year in his hometown the same way Michael Irvin did in his second try when the Super Bowl was in Miami in 2007.

"I think it would mean a lot more to me happening here, even over being a first-ballot Hall of Famer," Brown said. "Being around my family and immediately sharing this with the people who are the reasons why I ended up where I ended up would just be an incredible deal."

In 17 years with the Raiders -- first in Los Angeles and then in Oakland -- and Tampa Bay, Brown caught 1,094 passes for 14,934 yards and 100 touchdowns. The receptions and yardage are fourth most in NFL history. The touchdown catches are tied for sixth best.

As spectacular as those numbers appear to be, however, Brown's candidacy is not a lock. Andre Reed and Cris Carter are other finalists with similar résumés, and the wide receivers could end up canceling each other out on the vote.

But the only Hall of Famer with more catches, yards and touchdowns than Brown is Jerry Rice, a one-time Raiders teammate.

Brown had nine straight seasons with at least 1,000 receiving yards. He had 10 straight seasons of at least 75 catches. He had 11 straight seasons in which he caught at least five touchdown passes.

He was named an All-Pro as a rookie kick returner. He was named to the Pro Bowl nine times. He was named to the all-decade team of the 1990s.

"If I needed a completion," Rich Gannon said, "I knew where to look."

Gannon was Brown's quarterback from 1999 to 2003. He was one of the 19 quarterbacks Brown had during his career. Jay Schroeder was his first. Chris Simms was his last in Tampa Bay. In between he had guys like Todd Marinovich, Jeff Hostetler, Donald Hollas, Tee Martin and Brad Johnson throwing him passes, among others.

He had six coaches with the Raiders: Mike Shanahan, Art Shell, Mike White, Joe Bugel, Jon Gruden and Bill Callahan.

The Raiders had only seven winning seasons, reaching Super Bowl XXXVII, in Brown's 16 seasons.

"It's incredible when you think of it like that," Gannon said. "I think that hurt him. It would hurt anybody in terms of the continuity and consistency on offense. He was constantly learning new systems. That speaks volumes about his flexibility and ability to adjust. Even when they were not playoff teams and had losing seasons, Tim Brown was always a Pro Bowl receiver."

And maybe Saturday, he will become a Hall of Famer.

Last year, Brown admittedly got caught up in the moment and was extremely disappointed when his name was not called. This year, he and his wife, Sherice, will be at their home, waiting for a phone call they hope comes with the good news.

As the time draws closer, Brown admits to letting his mind wander.

"But as soon as you start going through that process, you almost audibly tell yourself to stop," he said. "You just don't want to go through all that and then be disappointed. But certainly I'm sure the thank yous will flow to all the people who were an integral part of me being the player I was."

Todd Archer covers the Cowboys for ESPNDallas.com.