BILL "BOOM BOOM" BROWN, HARD-NOSED
HELMET HUT NEWS/REFLECTIONS May 2013:
BILL "BOOM BOOM" BROWN, HARD- NOSED
By Dr. Ken
I often observe my collection of game worn and HELMET HUT authentic reproduction helmets and marvel at the memories they evoke, a theme I have frequently noted in this series of columns. Though I am similar to most football fans and have one or two favorite teams, it would be more accurate to state that I have “favored teams” and that my attraction and loyalty to them has through the decades, waxed and waned dependent upon many factors. I “am” a Giants fan having been born and raised in the New York Metropolitan area, and they were the first professional football team I was aware of. In truth however, I “was” a Giants fan of the teams that spanned the time period of 1956 through 1966 and even the latter few teams in that era took second seat to the excellence of the Green Bay Packers of the Lombardi era and on the opposite end of the spectrum, the frustration producing Steelers of the early to late 1960’s. Specific players would hold my interest or an offensive or defensive group would cause me to have a deep respect for their hard and intense play and for a year, three years, or longer, I truly would be a fan. Though true, die-hard fans of one team that has held a life time attraction for them would snicker at my above description of myself as “a fan,” my undivided attention and emotional outlay was as spirited and meaningful for me even if for a brief time, and whether my attention was absorbed by multiple teams simultaneously. At one time or another, I was a fan of every American Football League team except the Raiders and Dolphins. The Oilers, and especially Charley Tolar and Billy Cannon were the big favorites as the AFL began and they remained a favorite through good years and very bad ones, until the merger with the NFL. Despite what I felt was a “close connection” with the Oilers, their uniforms, the fortunes dictated by the won-loss record, and the performance of many individual players, I also wanted to see the Broncos do well when a number of local Long Island players populated the squad. The Jets had some moments as a “must see” team as I was fortunate to attend a number of Titans games, was acquainted and trained with a few of them and later, enjoyed Joe Namath’s consideration as he drove me into Manhattan from the Jets’ Hofstra University training site. I enjoyed the Texans and Chiefs because of the redemption of Len Dawson, and some identification with short, strong running backs Mack Lee Hill and Robert “The Tank” Holmes. I had an affinity for the play of Keith Lincoln though I was not a Chargers fan per se, and respected the rushing game of the Bills’ Wray Carlton and Cookie Gilchrist. With friends in New England and taking advantage of being able to visit and train in the Boston area, I had “a thing” for the Boston Patriots, especially with Ron Burton as their backfield threat.
I could have been mistaken for a fan of numerous NFL teams too, but the one team that rarely held much interest for reasons that even I did not understand, was the Minnesota Vikings. As a supporter of underdogs, the Vikings certainly qualified in their first few seasons as they struggled against the better teams, utilizing a sub-par roster of over-the-hill performers. Arguably Hugh “The King” McEIhenny still had gas in his tank during the expansion team’s 1961 and ’62 seasons but as the younger players developed, most of the other starters were stop-gap level pros. The one Vikings player I enjoyed and who personified the type of play I always tried to emulate was Bill Brown, a fullback they acquired from the Chicago Bears. As an ardent follower of college football, even at a very young age, I was aware of both Tom Brown and Bill Brown who excelled in the Big Ten. Tom was an All American at Minnesota and won the Outland Trophy and almost every other award as the nation’s best lineman after the 1960 football season. Bill joined Tom on the All Big Ten team as a fullback from the University Of Illinois and until told otherwise, thought that they might have been brothers or cousins as I was already aware that Bill and his brother Jim played in the same backfield for the Illini.
The beautifully simple helmet style worn by Bill Brown during his playing days at the University Of Illinois. Shown is the number 32 made both famous and infamous by the great Ray Nitschke, also a fullback during the Bill Brown era. Brown, as per photo below, wore number 39