2015 is Tim Brown’s Year for Hall of Fame Induction

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The selection early this year of Andre Reed to the Hall of Fame over Tim Brown was a shock to many, and for good reason. While Andre Reed was undoubtedly a great wide receiver who accomplished a great many things, Reed was at no point in his career ever considered one of the two or three best receivers in the league, despite being the primary receiver on the great Bills teams of the early 1990’s. For a big chunk of the 1990’s, however, Tim Brown was often mentioned in the conversation as the second best receiver in the game behind the incomparable Jerry Rice. Many observers have speculated that Tim Brown, had he played with Joe Montana and Steve Young, would have had a career like Rice had. Brown, however, didn’t play with Montana and Young.

Tim Brown played most of his career for teams quarterbacked by names like Steve Beuerlein, Jay Schroeder, Jeff Hostetler, and Jeff George. Between his rookie year in 1988 and the emergence of Rich Gannon in 1999 (when Brown was 33 years old), Brown only played one season with a quarterback having a Pro Bowl season: 1994 with Jeff Hostetler.

Andre Reed played with Jim Kelly for most of his early career, and during that stretch Kelly was voted to five Pro Bowls and was an All-Pro twice. Michael Irvin caught passes from Troy Aikman during six Pro Bowl seasons for Aikman and played against defenses who were stacking the box for Emmitt Smith. Jerry Rice obviously played with two Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Joe Montana and Steve Young. Cris Carter got to catch passes from Randall Cunningham and Warren Moon during his best years, although he also put up some good numbers with Brad Johnson throwing to him. Marvin Harrison played the vast majority of his career with Peyton Manning. Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt, both finalists this year, played with Kurt Warner in the Rams’ vaunted Greatest Show on Turf offense.

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  • Yet Tim Brown, despite not playing with a top quarterback until late in his career, put up magnificent numbers. In 1997, he was named 2nd-team All-Pro after catching 104 passes from Jeff George. Brown went to four straight Pro Bowls catching 80+ passes for over 1,000 yards each year from Jeff Hostetler. He even managed 81 receptions for over 1,000 yards in a year in which Donald Hollas and Wade Wilson started 9 games in place of Jeff George. Brown was the primary offensive weapon for every Raider team from the time Bo Jackson got hurt until the time Jerry Rice arrived, and even caught more passes than Rice during their first year together. Regardless of who was around him, and who was throwing to him, Tim Brown managed to put up consistently great statistics, and earned his place in Honolulu year after year despite the fact that every defense he faced was game-planning to stop him.