Cardless Starters of the Lombardi Era: Tom Brown

Next spring, the Pro Football Researchers’ Association will come out with The Pride of Titletown (McFarland) to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Packers first Super Bowl team in conjunction with PFRA’s bi-annual meeting in Green Bay in July 2016. This entry on Tom Brown is adapted from that upcoming book:

A celebrated schoolboy star in both baseball and football, Tom Brown attended the University of Maryland because they agreed to let him play both sports. A running back/receiver/defensive back, Brown was drafted in the second round of the 1963 NFL draft by the Packers, and by Buffalo in the third round of the AFL draft. Three and a half weeks later, he attended the 1962 NFL Championship game as Vince Lombardi’s guest. That windy day in Yankee Stadium the wind chill was eight degrees and the ground was rock hard, so Tom decided to try baseball.

Brown’s entrance to professional sports was contingent upon the vagaries and tensions of international politics. Although Rogelio Alvarez was slated to be the first baseman for the Washington Senators in 1963, Fidel Castro would not allow any Cuban baseball players off the island in the spring following the recent Cuban Missile Crisis. Hence, Bonus Baby Brown was rushed to the major leagues that spring with a further boost from inside the Beltway. When the Senators delivered their annual invitation to President John F. Kennedy for the opening day game, Kennedy joked, “I’ll come to the game if you start that boy from Maryland.” Thus, the raw twenty-two year old Brown was the Nats’ starting first basemen on opening day.

Once he fully proved he couldn’t hit a curve ball, Brown joined the Packers in 1964. Lombardi made him a full-time defensive back, and he replaced Hank Gremminger as the starting strong safety in 1965. Tom’s most famous moment occurred in the 1966 NFL Championship game with Dallas. Brown had given up a long touchdown pass to Frank Clarke earlier and had just been called for pass interference in the end zone, which set up the Cowboys on the Packers 2-yard line. However, with less than a minute to play, linebacker David Robinson forced Cowboys quarterback Don Meredith to throw a bad pass on fourth down that Tom intercepted to clinch the game.

After Lombardi signed on as the Head Coach for the Washington Redskins, his first trade on February 27, 1969 was to send Green Bay a fourth round draft pick for Tom Brown. Lombardi switched Brown to free safety in his overhaul of Washington. Unfortunately, Tom injured his shoulder during the first regular season game, and both his season and career were over.

1961nutbrown  1963ttbrown  1964ptbrown2

1965ptbrown3  1966ptbrown3  1967ptbrown

1968ttbrown2  1969ttbrown

Custom cards in the style of 1966 and 1967 Philadelphia are colorized.


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