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Brown won All-AFL honors in his second season recording nine interceptions for 144 yards and played in the AFL All-Star Game.
Brown was traded to the AFL’s Oakland Raiders in 1967, and spent 10 of his 12 years as defensive captain. He became the master of the bump-and-run coverage- a technique he perfected which became a staple of NFL secondary defenses.
The highlight of Brown’s Raiders career came during Super Bowl XI, when he intercepted a Fran Tarkenton pass with under six minutes left in the game and returned it a Super Bowl-record 75 yards for a touchdown to seal the Raiders 32-14 victory over the Minnesota Vikings and their first Super Bowl win.
(His record stood for 29 years until broken by Kelly Herndon’s 76-yard interception return in Super Bowl XL).
The win was particularly satisfying for Brown, who earned his first championship ring after 14 years of professional football. When he retired in 1978, he finished 16 seasons with 54 interceptions (overall) for 472 yards and 2 touchdowns -39 INTs with the Raiders (tied for first all-time), and 3 fumble recoveries.
After retirement, Brown served as a defensive backfield coach for the Raiders from 1979-88. He later coached at Long Beach State for one year (1991) and L.A. Jordan High School (1994) before rejoining the Raiders in 1995.
As secondary coach, he helped elevate Charles Woodson, Lester Hayes and Mike Haynes to NFL All-Pro status.
Brown passed on October 22, 2019 after a short illness.
Willie Brown Super Bowl XI heroics
Career highlights and awards
Pro Football Hall of Fame
Willie Brown, Grambling State, DB, Undrafted, Signed by Houston Oilers/Denver Broncos/Oakland Raiders
Buck Buchanan, Grambling, Defensive tackle, 19th rnd, 265th Pick, New York Giants
Willie Richardson, Jackson State, WR, 7th rnd, 89th pick, Baltimore Colts
Winston Hill, Texas Southern, Tackle, 11th rnd, 144th pick, Baltimore Colts
Hewritt Dixon, Florida A&M, RB, 11th rnd, 151th pick, Pittsburgh Steelers
Homer Jones, Texas Southern, Back, rnd 20, 278th Pick, New York Giants
Roy Curry, Jackson State, 12th rnd, 164th Pick, Pittsburgh Steelers
Robert Dickerson, Bethune-Cookman, End, 14th rnd, 192nd Pick, Pittsburgh Steelers
Lane Howell, Grambling, Center, 15th rnd, 209th Pick, New York Giants
Bob McAdams, North Carolina Central, Tackle, 17th rnd, 237th Pick, New York Giants
Al Greer, Jackson State, End, 18th rnd, 251st Pick, Detroit Lions
Lucian Reeberg, Hampton, Tackle, 19th rnd, 251st Pick, Detroit Lions