As with 14 other finalists, Tim Brown is awaiting word on whether he will be elected into the NFL Hall of Fame. As great as an honor that induction would be, Brown said he is not letting the hoopla consume him.
A star receiver from 1988 through 2004, Brown is a finalist for the sixth straight year. Selections will be announced Jan. 31 in Phoenix, Ariz., prior to the Super Bowl the following day.
Brown will be at the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, N.C., from 1-3 p.m. on Jan. 24, to sign copies of his book The Making of a Man: How Men and Boys Honor God and Live With Integrity.
“The first couple of years I was devastated by not getting in,” Brown said. “But at this particular point, I realize why I’m here and what I’m supposed to be doing, and that’s what I’m going to focus on.”
Brown did add, however, “Hopefully it will happen this year.”
If Brown’s mother had had her way, the perennial NFL Pro Bowler and 1987 Heisman Trophy winner from the University of Notre Dame would have never played football. Instead, he would have made his mark playing bass drum for the high school marching band.
“My mom never got caught up in my athletic accomplishments,” Brown said. “She didn’t even want me to play football because she was afraid I’d get hurt.”
As a high school sophomore, Brown secretly had his dad sign permission papers so he could play football. That didn’t sit too well with his mom when she found out.
“Mama thought I was going to the games to play in the band,” he said. “She wasn’t too happy to learn that I was playing and that I’d gone behind her back.”
Brown, however, did listen to his mother—as did his five siblings—when it came to going to church. She made sure of that.
“I was very aware of who God was, but being aware of who He is and living for Him is something totally different,” Brown said.
Though he excelled on the field, Brown wrestled with issues of purity. He had no problem staying away from alcohol and drugs. His greatest battle was pre-marital sex. He fathered a child outside of wedlock, learning he was to become a father after his graduation from Notre Dame.
“I knew the score from my Sunday school lessons that pre-marital sex was a sin and displeased God,” he said. “I clearly knew the long-term consequences, both to your health and to your relationship with God. But I was self-absorbed and gave in, beginning in high school.”
Brown’s weaknesses eventually led to despondency, so much so, he couldn’t stand looking at himself in the mirror. He even shaved in the dark.
Brown’s struggles came to a head on June 6, 1996, a few days after breaking up with a different girlfriend. At 3 a.m., he got down on his knees and prayed, “Lord, I absolutely can’t do this anymore. I need You by me, in me, around me at all times. I need Your help, right now, tomorrow and for the rest of my life.”
Brown has since married. He and his wife, Sherice—a vibrant Christian—have four children, including the son he fathered earlier. His twins—a boy and a girl—were born about 90 minutes after Tampa Bay thrashed Oakland in the Super Bowl on Jan. 26, 2003. He made it to the hospital, just in time to witness the birth.
That was the closest Brown got to a Super Bowl ring. He retired a year later.
But Brown believes his journey of faith outshines his on-field accomplishments. “All of my football achievements pale in comparison to my relationship with Jesus Christ. Magnifying God and serving and worshiping Him and bringing others to the Lord is a far greater legacy to leave behind.”