Hailing from Dallas, Texas, Tim Brown’s unconventional journey to football greatness began at Woodrow Wilson High School. Coincidentally, it’s also the same school as the 1938 Heisman Trophy winner, Davey O’Brien.
From Band Member to College Football Recruit
Tim Brown’s mom initially forbade him to play football but Tim would eventually switch from band to football during his sophomore year.
Despite the team’s 4-25-1 record during his three-year stint, his exceptional athleticism in track and field caught the attention of college recruiters. Eventually, he had his pick of the top schools but chose the University of Notre Dame over Oklahoma, SMU, Nebraska, and Iowa.
The Rise of “Touchdown Timmy”
At Notre Dame, “Touchdown Timmy” immediately set the stage. As a freshman in 1984, he broke the Irish freshman receiving record with 28 catches for 340 yards and a touchdown. He kept up the momentum in his sophomore year, showcasing his return skills with an average of 24 yards per kickoff return, including a touchdown.
The momentum continued into his junior year, as Brown caught 45 passes for 910 yards and scored two kick return touchdowns. His star truly began to rise after a sensational season-ending performance against USC. Brown’s 56-yard punt return put the Irish in position for the win. It capped off a day in which Brown accumulated 254 all-purpose yards and secured his name in the minds of Heisman voters.
1987 Heisman Trophy Winner
As a senior, Brown continued to impress. His signature moment came in an early-season game against Michigan State where Tim returned back-to-back punts for touchdowns. Despite constant double and triple coverage, he stood out as possibly the most dangerous player in college football. Playing as a flanker, he utilized his talents as a receiver, rusher, and return specialist to rank sixth nationally in all-purpose yardage. By the end of his college career, Brown became Notre Dame’s all-time leader in pass reception yards (2493), returning six kicks for touchdowns.
His incredible performances led to his Heisman Trophy win in 1987, the seventh for Notre Dame and the second for a wide receiver in history. He triumphed over Syracuse QB Don McPherson, joining the illustrious company of Notre Dame Heisman winners including Angelo Bertelli, John Lujack, Leon Hart, John Lattner, Paul Hornung, and John Huart.
First-Round NFL Draft Pick
The Los Angeles Raiders selected Brown in the 1988 NFL Draft as the sixth overall pick. He made an immediate impact, earning his first Pro Bowl selection in his rookie year, followed by eight more selections in ’91, ’93, ’94, ’95, ’96, ’97, ’99, and 2000.
In the NFL, Brown continued to shine bright. Despite an injury setback in ’92, he quickly rebounded, going on to surpass 1,000 receiving yards for nine consecutive seasons. His resilience earned him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2015.
Tim Brown’s Legacy
The legacy of Tim Brown is a testament to his incredible skill, dedication, and his monumental contributions to football. His career serves as an inspiration for future generations of Notre Dame players who aspire to leave their mark on the sport.