State Your Case: Lomas Brown
(Lomas Brown photo courtesy of Detroit Lions)
Talk of Fame Network
Consistent productivity is the most sought-after trait in an NFL offensive lineman. No one in recent memory was ever more consistently productive than former Detroit Lions’ left tackle Lomas Brown.
Only one offensive lineman in league history played in or started more games than the seven-time Pro Bowler, who played in 263 games and started 251 of them. But Brown was more than just a reliable employee. He was a dominating left tackle from 1985 until the final year of his career, when he served his only season as a backup performer for the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2002.
The first 11 of those 18 seasons were spent in Detroit, where Brown started 163 of the 164 games in which he appeared and began a run of seven consecutive seasons as a Pro Bowl selection (1990-1996). During that time, he was the anchor of a line that helped transform the Lions into a playoff team four times and its offense into one of the most productive running games in football.
Running behind Brown and his line mates, Barry Sanders twice led the NFL in rushing. In the seven seasons they played together, Sanders ran for 10,172 yards and 73 rushing touchdowns, averaging just under five yards per carry (4.9 to be precise). Many of those yards came through holes pried open by Brown.
But Brown did more than open holes for one of the game’s greatest runners. He also helped transform a consistent loser into a playoff contender, and he did it not only in Detroit but after leaving the Motor City did the same thing for the Arizona Cardinals, where he played in 1996-1998.
Brown was a starting left tackle, arguably the offensive line’s most important position because it protects the blind side of most quarterbacks, for 17 of his 18 NFL seasons. He was at his post when the Lions returned to the NFC championship game for the first time in 34 years in 1991. He was on the job when they returned to the playoffs three more times before he left for Arizona. And in 1998, he was the starting left tackle on a Cardinals’ team that won its first playoff game in 50 years.
By the time Brown reached the New York Giants in 2000 he was entering his NFL dotage. But as most of his contemporaries slipped off into retirement he started every game for two seasons for the Giants, including on their Super Bowl XXXV team.
Two seasons later, in his 18th and final year in the NFL, Brown finally won the game’s most coveted prize. Although serving as a backup performer for the only time in his career, he played in 11 games for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ team that won Super Bowl XXXVII.
Despite being an integral part of transforming two teams from losers to playoff contenders, anchoring a line that had one of the game’s most productive run offenses in NFL history and regularly being named among the game’s best left tackles for nearly a decade, Lomas Brown has never been so much as a Hall-of-Fame semi-finalist.
This year his name was even left off the preliminary list of 94 candidates, the first time in several seasons that he was not included. While we can debate whether so consistent a player belongs in Canton, one thing seems beyond discussion: Lomas Brown earned the right to have his case for the Hall of Fame heard.