2015 is Tim Brown’s Year for Hall of Fame Induction
Aug 2, 2014; Canton, OH, USA; NFL former receiver Andre Reed during his induction speech during the 2014 Pro Football Hall of Fame Enshrinement at Fawcett Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
Hall of Fame Peers
The most obvious argument for Tim Brown being a Hall of Famer now is the presence of Andre Reed in the Hall of Fame already. While Reed had several very productive seasons, especially during the Bills’ run of four consecutive Super Bowl losses, Brown put up vastly better numbers over the course of his career. Brown has 142 more receptions than Reed, 1,736 more receiving yards, 17 more TD’s, and 5,969 more all-purpose yards. Andre Reed does have more impressive playoff stats (85 receptions, 1229 yards, 9 TDs) than Brown does (45 receptions, 581 yards, 3 TD’s) but Reed also played in 21 playoff games to Brown’s 12, and five of Brown’s playoff performances came with Jay Schroeder and Jeff Hostetler throwing to him. Reed does have a signature playoff performance: he caught three touchdowns in the epic come-from-behind victory over the Houston Oilers in the 1992 playoffs. Brown’s best playoff performance came in a 1993 Divisional Round loss to the Bills where he had 5 receptions for 127 yards and a score.
While Brown did not have the big games Reed had in the postseason (Reed had three multi-TD games), Brown was also never shut completely out of a playoff game, even in the awful Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay after the 2002 season. Reed was held without a score in in 15 of his 21 playoff games, and was held without a single reception in three of them. Reed, of course, had four chances to show what he could do on the game’s biggest stage: in four Super Bowl appearances, he caught 27 passes for 323 yards. Brown’s sole Super Bowl appearance after the 2002 season resulted in a single nine-yard reception. Reed was named All-Pro twice while Brown was only so honored once, but Reed was only voted to the Pro Bowl seven times to Brown’s nine. The two were in fact teammates on four AFC Pro Bowl teams.
Brown matches up well with Hall of Famer Cris Carter, as well. While Carter was a three time All-Pro and played in eight Pro Bowls, the two had comparable careers statistically and for some time were considered #2A and #2B to Jerry Rice’s #1. Only seven receptions separate Carter and Brown on the all-time receptions list (Carter has 1,101), but Brown has 1,035 more receiving yards and 5,495 more all-purpose yards. Carter, king of the back-shoulder fade, does have a significant advantage in touchdowns, having scored 130 to Brown’s 105. Carter’s stretch of consecutive seasons with at least 75 receptions was eight years long, but in two of those seasons he had 122 receptions, Brown only reached the 100-catch mark once in his career (104 in 1997).
The two played in a similar number of playoff games (Carter played in 14 to Brown’s 12), and Carter has the clear edge in playoff performances: like Brown, he was never held without a catch in a postseason game, unlike Brown, he scored in half of his playoff appearances, scoring eight career playoff TD’s to Brown’s three. Carter never played in a Super Bowl in his career.
Brown’s career also holds up when compared to another Hall of Fame wide receiver, the Playmaker, Michael Irvin. Irvin, who spent his entire eleven-year career in Dallas, was inducted into Canton in 2007 after missing the cut in 2005 and 2006. If Brown and Cris Carter were the 2A and 2B to Jerry Rice, Irvin was the 2C. He was the primary receiver for Troy Aikman, part of the “Triplets” that led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories in a four year span in the 1990’s. Irvin was a big, physical receiver with a mouth to match his game, but his statistics pale in comparison to Brown’s. He has 344 fewer career receptions than Brown, 3,030 fewer career receiving yards, 7,769 fewer all purpose yards, and crucially, forty fewer touchdowns in his career. While he of course played for a team that featured the NFL’s all-time leading rusher and rushing touchdown scorer, he also had the advantage of playing with a Hall of Fame quarterback and against defenses that were geared toward stopping Emmitt Smith rather than stopping him.
Irvin of course was a far more outspoken and brash player than Brown, and played on three championship teams. Irvin also put up impressive playoff stats: in sixteen postseason games he was held to less than five receptions only four times, and he scored eight TD’s in his playoff career. In his first Super Bowl appearance, he caught six passes for 116 yards and two scores in the Cowboys’ 52-17 rout of the hapless Buffalo Bills.
Brown even holds his own while being compared to the Greatest Of All Time Jerry Rice. Obviously, Jerry Rice owns every major career receiving record. Brown has almost 8,000 fewer career receiving yards, 455 fewer receptions, 103 fewer touchdowns, and nearly 3,900 fewer all-purpose yards than Rice. Rice also played in 29 playoff games, including four Super Bowls. Rice caught 151 passes for 2,245 yards and 22 TD’s in postseason games, all numbers that are by far at the top of the NFL postseason record books. Rice has all the Super Bowl receiving records and was a Super Bowl MVP. Rice was a 12 time All-Pro and a 13-time Pro Bowler, and was NFL Offensive Player of the Year twice.
Yet Brown and Rice were often compared throughout their careers, and many speculate that Brown could have had similar success if surrounded by similar talent. Brown, like Rice, excelled at crossing patterns and slant routes, and was great at using his hands to make a sure catch then quickly turn up-field and run for more yardage. While Rice excelled due to his unparalleled work ethic, competitive drive and discipline, Brown excelled because of his toughness along with his incredible athletic ability and speed. The two played together for three years in Oakland and took turns as the team’s leading receiver, becoming one of the best receiving tandems in the league during the 2001 and 2002 seasons. In their three years together, Rice had 238 receptions, Brown had 224.