5 Most Influential Raiders of All Time: #3 Willie Brown

Source: Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

This week, we have been looking at five of the most impactful Raiders of all time. At #5, we had Marcus Allen. Charles Woodson came in at #4. Third on our list is another legendary #24, Willie Brown. Let’s look at Brown’s on-the-field and off-the-field accomplishments that made him one of the most legendary Raiders of all time.

Before the NFL

Before playing in the NFL, Willie Brown played college football for Grambling State University in Louisiana. Due to his tremendous success in college and professional football, Brown was inducted into the Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1985.

After his time at Grambling State University, Brown began his journey to the NFL in 1963.

Willie Brown’s Time in the NFL

Willie Brown, a defensive back, entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 1963. That same year, he signed to the Houston Oilers before being cut during training camp. The Denver Broncos picked up Willie Brown after his release from Houston. Brown dominated the remainder of training camp and would then become a starter by the end of his rookie season.

Brown remained a member of the Denver Broncos for four seasons until 1966. In 1967, The Denver Broncos traded Brown to the Oakland Raiders, where he proved to the world the kind of player he was.

After his trade to Oakland, Brown’s career took off. From his first season in Oakland until 1973, Brown was selected to seven consecutive Pro Bowls. On top of his impressive Pro Bowl resume, Brown was also named to the First-Team All-Pro four times in Oakland, and five overall in his career.

Willie Brown was a part of the Oakland Raiders first Super Bowl-winning team in 1977, where he scored the go-ahead touchdown on a record-setting 75 yard pick six in the fourth quarter. This interception was the birth of his nickname, “Old-Man Willie,” a nickname that would stick for years to come.

Brown played 12 seasons for the Raiders. Not only was Brown a tremendous player, but he was also a natural leader. Brown served as a defensive captain for 10 of his 12 seasons in Oakland. He spent time guiding the rookies, leading the veterans, and being a franchise face for fans.

Brown ended his 16-season career in 1978. His retirement came after 54 total interceptions, 2 TDs, and 4 fumble recoveries.

What was next for Willie Brown?

After his retirement, Willie Brown returned to the Raiders as the defensive backs coach in 1979. He went on to coach for the team for nine seasons, with his professional coaching career concluding in 1988. One of the most important things to note about Willie Brown is that he was a part of all three Raiders Super Bowl-winning teams. One as a player, two as a coach.

While serving as Raiders defensive backs coach in 1984, Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, his first year eligible. His induction solidified what Raider Nation always knew: Willie Brown’s impact on football would last forever.

After his professional coaching career came to a close in 1988, Brown coached for Long Beach State. Brown served as the last head coach of the program before it was discontinued. In 1995, Brown again returned to the Raiders as the Director of Staff Development. Brown couldn’t stay away from the Raiders, and they never wanted him to.

When you think about great Raiders, you think about Willie Brown. For his skills, leadership abilities, and great coaching, you think about Willie Brown. In October of 2019, Willie Brown passed away at the age of 78. Brown’s legacy will forever live on in the hearts of everyone related to Raider Nation. Thank you, Willie Brown, for changing the Raiders organization for the best on behalf of Raider fans everywhere. Rest in Peace.

Make sure to check back in tomorrow to see who joins our list at #2.

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