Originally created 06/11/04

NFL Hall of Fame lineman Roosevelt Brown dies



MANSFIELD TOWNSHIP, N.J. -- Roosevelt Brown, the Hall of Fame offensive tackle whose blocking helped the New York Giants reach six NFL championship games, has died. He was 71.

Brown died Wednesday after collapsing in his garden, Police Chief Jim Humble said.

A 27th-round draft pick out of Morgan State in 1953, Brown started for 13 straight seasons at left tackle. He was chosen for the NFL's 75th anniversary team in 2000.

"Rosie is a Hall of Fame player, and I wouldn't be in the Hall of Fame if it weren't for him," former Giants halfback and flanker Frank Gifford said.

"Our two favorite plays were 48 pitchout and (Vince) Lombardi's 49 sweep, and Rosie was the key man in all of that," Gifford said.

"The longest run in my career (79 yards) was on a 48 pitchout against Washington. Rosie made a block at the line of scrimmage. I cut it up, and then I'm running downfield and I look up and I see number 79 (Brown) in front of me, and he wiped out another guy," he said.

While he was later hobbled by hip and knee injuries, Brown had the speed and athleticism to be a tight end in today's game, Gifford said.

Brown was small by current standards for offensive linemen, weighing 255 pounds. However, he was recognized as one of the best to play the game.

Brown was voted to the All-NFL team for eight consecutive seasons and selected to nine Pro Bowls. In 1956, he was chosen as the league's lineman of the year. He was voted into the Hall of Fame in 1975.

With Brown, the Giants made it to the NFL title games six times between 1956 and 1963. New York won the championship only in '56.

"Rosie was a great Giant," Giants co-owner Wellington said Thursday. "He was with this organization for more than 50 years as a player, coach and scout. He excelled in every area and he was always a gentleman."

After retiring, Brown served as the team's assistant offensive line coach and later joined the scouting department.

Brown regularly attended training camp, often walking side-by-side with the 87-year-old Mara.

"In 33 years in the National Football League, I don't know that I loved working with or knowing anyone more than Roosevelt Brown," general manager Ernie Accorsi said. "The world knows he was a great player. But few know what a great scout he was. He was a treasure to have in our scouting department, full of wisdom and knowledge."

Besides Gifford, Brown played with four other Hall of Famers: linebacker Sam Huff, defensive end Andy Robustelli, quarterback Y.A. Tittle and defensive back Emlen Tunnell.

"I have wonderful memories of Rosie," Tittle said. "He was a great guy. There was not anything bad you could say about him. There was nobody that wasn't Rosie's friend. Everybody liked Rosie."

Brown, born on Oct. 20, 1932, in Charlottesville, Va., is survived by his wife, Linda, and two sisters, Lyria Brown-Hailstork and Mary Luck-Page, both of Charlottesville. He was predeceased by a brother, Frank Henry Brown, and a sister, Barbara Annette Brown.