Oakland parts ways with last L.A. Raider

Updated: August 5, 2004, 12:00 PM ET
Associated Press

NAPA, Calif. -- Tim Brown is leaving the Oakland Raiders after 16 prolific seasons.

Tim Brown
Wide Receiver
Oakland Raiders
Rec Yds TD Avg Long YAC
52 567 2 10.9 36 198

Unwilling to accept the prospect of reduced playing time, the 38-year-old receiver accepted owner Al Davis' decision to part ways with the last former member of the Los Angeles Raiders. Davis announced his intentions in a news conference with Brown on Wednesday at the Raiders' training camp headquarters.

Oakland plans to release Brown on Thursday. The self-proclaimed "Mr. Raider" holds most of the club's receiving records, and his 240 games in Silver and Black are the most in franchise history. He has caught at least one pass in 173 consecutive games -- the second-longest streak in NFL history behind Jerry Rice's 273.

"I didn't want to be a distraction," Brown said. "I think those guys have great respect for me, and I think you lose some of that if you accept a role where you're not playing. ... When you've played at the level I've played at, it's tough to be on the sidelines waving a towel."

Brown ranks second in NFL history with 14,734 yards receiving and third with 1,070 catches. His 99 touchdown receptions are tied with Don Hutson for fourth, and his 14,734 all-purpose yards are fifth.

"It's emotionally difficult. It's a part of your life," Davis said. "Other than your family, this is your family. We've had many great players, but there are certain players you fall for. It's tough to lose him."

This won't be the end of Tim Brown. I'll surface somewhere else, probably.
Tim Brown

Brown won the Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame before the Raiders drafted him in 1988. He soon established himself as an elite receiver, appearing in nine Pro Bowls and going nine straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving from 1993-2001.

Brown had 52 catches for 567 yards and two touchdowns last season, but his streak of 175 starts ended in December.

He fell out of favor with former coach Bill Callahan, and also didn't fit into the plans of new coach Norv Turner. Jerry Porter and the 41-year-old Rice will be the Raiders' top receivers this season, and Turner expects big things from Ronald Curry and Alvis Whitted.

"Coming into training camp, you always think you've got a little bit left in the tank," Brown said.

Though Brown's quiet style sometimes seemed at odds with the Raiders' brash image, he was one of the team's most popular players even during the franchise's dismal seasons after returning to Oakland.

Brown also was a key member of the Raiders' AFC championship team in 2002, when he finally reached the Super Bowl for the first time in his career. Oakland lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Brown knew he would have a reduced role this season, though he still entered training camp planning to be the Raiders' third receiver. But Turner and his staff intend to give their younger receivers the chance to play complementary roles to Rice and Porter -- and Brown didn't want to be a part-time player.

"I certainly think the Raiders are going to be a very good football team this year," Brown said. "That's another reason why it's so disappointing.

"This won't be the end of Tim Brown. I'll surface somewhere else, probably."

Brown plans to spend a few days with his family in the Bay Area before flying home to Dallas and pondering the next stage of his career. He would love to play for his hometown Cowboys, but concedes it's unlikely.

It's difficult to tell how many teams will be interested in a veteran whose play has slipped from its peak. If he can't find a new team, Brown plans to retire with the Raiders -- perhaps as soon as this month -- and seek a job in broadcasting or player personnel.

"Our relationship will continue," Davis said. "It always does."

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press