Updated October 22, 2019 - 12:10 pm
ALAMEDA, Calif. — Hall of Fame Raiders cornerback Willie Brown has died at the age of 78.
One of the iconic public faces of the Raiders franchise, Brown spent 12 seasons leading the the Raiders secondary. After playing the first four years of his professional career with the Denver Broncos, the Raiders traded for Brown in 1967 and he spent the rest of his career with the team.
Brown was instrumental in the Raiders’ Super Bowl XI victory, returning an interception 75 yards for a touchdown.
A nine-time Pro Bowler and five-time first-team All-Pro, Brown is tied as the Raiders’ all-time leader in interceptions with 39. His 54 total career interceptions are tied for 21st in NFL history.
The team issued a statement on Brown’s death, saying, ”Willie Brown will forever be cherished as a true Raider. He exemplified the Raider spirit, originally entering the AFL as an undrafted free agent out of Grambling State before joining the Silver and Black in 1967.
“He remained an integral part of the organization through six decades. His legendary performance on the field changed the way the cornerback position was played and his valued guidance as a coach, mentor and administrator permeated the organization and touched countless individuals both on and off the field. Willie’s loss will leave a tremendous void, but his leadership and presence will always be a major part of the fabric of the Raiders Family.”
Brown went from playing in 1978 to coaching the Raiders’ defensive backs in 1979, a position he held through the 1988 season. Brown also has held a role within the Raiders’ front office since 1995.
He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984.
Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker issued a statement that read, in part, “Willie Brown was the epitome of the Raiders’ motto of ‘commitment to excellence’ that was integral to the team’s sustained success. He embodied virtues like passion, integrity, perseverance and always led by example. … His legacy will be preserved forever in Canton, Ohio to inspire generations of fans.”
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr tweeted his condolences saying, “Man… going to miss you Willie! I’ll never forget when you called my name on that stage to welcome me into the Raider family 4 life! Prayers to his family.”
Man… going to miss you Willie! I'll never forget when you called my name on that stage to welcome me into the Raider family 4 life! Prayers to his family. https://t.co/nqgAuuJD1G
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) October 22, 2019