Willie Brown, Hall of Fame cornerback for Oakland Raiders, dies at 78

Oct. 22 (UPI) — Former Oakland Raiders cornerback and Pro Football Hall of Fame player Willie Brown died Tuesday at the age of 78 after a lengthy battle with cancer, team owner Mark Davis said.

“It’s a very sad day for the Raider Nation as a whole, and for my family in particular,” Davis said in a statement Tuesday. “Willie Brown was one of the greatest to ever play the game, but it was off the field and how he treated my mom for which I will forever be indebted to him.

“Every road trip it was Willie who helped my mom up and down the stairs of the plane. It was Willie who joined her for all dinners on the road. It was Willie who came to her birthday and Mother’s Day dinner. It was Willie who was her best friend. We loved and will miss you, Willie.”

Brown, undrafted out of Grambling State in 1963, originally signed with the then-Houston Oilers before being released. He then signed with the Denver Broncos and grabbed 15 interceptions in four seasons with the franchise.

The Raiders acquired Brown, along with quarterback Mickey Slaughter, after trading defensive tackle Rex Mirich and a third-round draft pick to the Broncos in 1967.

In 12 seasons with the Raiders, Brown recorded 39 interceptions, tied for most in franchise history with Lester Hayes. He is a three-time Super Bowl champion and four-time Pro Bowl selection.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Raiders’ great Willie Brown,” NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement. “As a player, coach, and executive, Willie served as a tremendous ambassador for the Raiders and football for more than 50 years.

“He will forever be immortalized by NFL Films with his iconic 75-yard interception return in Super Bowl XI as he ran straight into the camera and our imaginations.”

Brown was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984. He returned to the Raiders in an administrative role when the franchise returned to Oakland from Los Angeles in 1995.

Brown also served as an assistant before becoming the Raiders’ team ambassador, a position he held until his death.

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