Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Some Love for Brandon Browner


Chiefs OT Eric Winston recently commented "We're athletes.  We're not gladiators.  This isn't the Roman Coliseum."  He said this in response to Kansas City fans getting all Philadelphia for a minute and cheering as Matt Cassel suffered a head injury that forced him from the game...

Eric Winston has clearly never met Brandon Browner.  Browner not only looks the part of ancient gladiator but he plays the part just as well.  He's the kind of guy that invites violent contact and wants nothing more than to inflict pain and destroy the souls of any opponent who stands in his path.  Whether it be DeSean Jackson, Greg Jennings, Jerome Simpson, Eli Manning, whoever it may be the man simply doesn't give a shit.  This guy entertains the hell out of me.  More so than any other football player I could ever remember.  He defies logic and to me he defines what it means to be a Seattle Seahawk.  So without further ado, here is some much needed Brandon Browner love!

Oct 9, 2011 - This play against the Giants was not only a game clincher and a game changer, it was also a life changer for yours truly.  I was at this game with a buddy and my girlfriend.  It was my girlfriend's first professional football game and she comes from a family of Giants fans.  My buddy is a Giants season ticket holder and has had season tickets in his family for decades.  I was sitting in a section, of course, surrounded by Giants fans with me and 2 or 3 others as the only exception.  You'll remember the game was a great back and forth affair and the back and forth carried over to the upper deck.  I was getting relentlessly harrassed by Giants fans, especially so by the two "gentlemen" sitting right behind me.  Things were getting very heated and very personal.  My buddy, now a New York City Police Officer, had to step in and stop things before they got out of control and thankfully so.  As I tuned these two jobbers and countless other trashy Giants fans out of mind a crazy thing happened.  After our former savior Charlie Whitehurst found Doug Baldwin in the endzone for 6, the Seahawks had the lead 29-25!  Now, it's important that you know that I had been to the "Old" Meadowlands 4 times prior to this and each time I witnessed a Seahawks loss, (thrice to the Giants, once to the Jets) including a 44-6 drubbing at the hands of the Giants just three years prior.  Knowing this, I was setting myself up for the seemingly inevitable.  I had seen Kerry Collins drive the length of the field with under 2 minutes to go literally a decade earlier to dash my dreams as a 14 year old at his first Seahawks game ever, I couldn't stand to watch Eli Manning do the same.

The Giants marched down the field like I knew they would before getting inside the 20 where things started to look real bleak.  As the until-then comatose NY/NJ crowd typically sprang back to life as victory seemed certain, a hero stood up amongst the Seahawks and made certain that my day would not follow the same script it usually had.  This was the "New" Meadowlands and this was a new breed of Seahawks.  That man of course, was Brandon Browner.  What happened next literally blew my mind and changed my life..

To this day, I consider this one of the top 5 happiest moments of my life.  I'm talking pure, natural hype and happiness.  I've got the birth of my little sister and my nephew up there, of course, but this wasn't even just a great "sports moment" this was a great LIFE moment!  I love the Seahawks and I always believe in them but even I couldn't have come up with a better way to end a game.  As Brandon Browner raced past Pete Carroll, who was going nuts on the sidelines, I followed Pete's lead and was in pure jubilation in the upper deck.  Screaming, hooting, hollering, whatever sounds came out of me it was all involuntary.  People began to throw things at me, yell obscenities, threaten me to fights in the parking lot, the anger was so real.  And it was so damn amazing!  It was so worth it!  Brandon Browner put me on top of the world and I'll never, ever forget this moment and neither will my buddy or my girlfriend.  That night, we met up with our friends who had been watching the game on TV at our local watering hole.  Everyone knew how excited I was and everyone took the time to congratulate me on what was an amazing experience.  We partied in to the wee hours of the night and I swear that the hangover the next day was the best hangover of my life!  All thanks to Brandon Browner.

Let me back track a bit right now.  For some reason, I grew up loving the Pac-10 (errrr 12, my bad), the Pacific Northwest, Idaho, Montana, weird stuff like that for a kid from NYC.  I was really in to the Pac 10, a diehard Cougs fan, and it was then that I first saw Brandon Browner play.  I remember being in awe of the 6'4 200+ pound corner at Oregon State who would just thrash opposing receivers at the line of scrimmage.  It was around the time of Steven Jackson, Derek Anderson, Nick Barnett and Dwan Edwards.  Not a bad squad at all.  Browner was a monster his redshirt freshman year snatching 6 picks and making numerous Freshman All-American teams.  After that season, the hype on Browner died a bit and I remember being upset when he wasn't drafted and had to sign as a UDFA for the Broncos.  They tried converting him to safety but an injury ended his stay there and it was time for a new path for the big fella.

Now fast forward to 2 offseasons ago.  I had kept track of Browner's career with the Calgary Stampeders since I'm a big fan of Canada (diehard Blue Jays fan, sorry M's fans, I do have a soft spot in my heart for them though!) and I had heard some rumblings that he was going to attempt to make a comeback to the NFL.  I was excited at the possibilities and then started to think about the Seahawks preference for long corners who can play press coverage as well as make plays on the ball.  Browner fit the bill.  Boom, a few weeks later the Seahawks sign him to a Futures Contract and I'm ecstatic!  I browsed through some of the forums I frequent (.Net is my addiction) and saw a lukewarm reception to the signing.  Some called him the next Jesse Lumsden but deep down inside I knew that this guy would make an impact.  If I'm to be honest with myself, I don't think I truly expected Brandon to play at the level we have seen him play at with the Seahawks, but that's a testament to the man that Brandon Browner is.  His commitment to working hard and improving is obvious to anyone who saw Mike Wallace treat him like he was Mike "Roast" Rumph last season.  Rather than get down on himself, Browner just kept getting better.  His transformation from raw, physical specimen playing corner to Pro Bowl corner has been a marvel to watch.

When I think of the Seattle Seahawks under Pete Carroll and John Schneider, I think of guys with talent, a chip on their shoulder, often overlooked and underappreciated, with the dedication required to improve immensely.  I think a lot of that stems from Pete Carroll placing belief and faith in guys who probably haven't felt that feeling before.  When someone believes in you it's an amazing feeling and amazing things can stem from it.  I think that's why you see our great core of young guys constantly improving.  Russell Wilson is trending upward, Bruce Irvin, Kam, Sherm, E.T., K.J. Wright, Golden, etc. all these guys seem to be getting better with each game.  It's a beautiful thing to watch and I know I'm not alone on that feeling.  I think the four biggest examples of guys getting a chance and improving under Pete Carroll are Browner, Bryant, Lynch, and Clemons.  Bryant was a failed DT and looked to be on his way out until a change to DE turned his career around and has turned him in to one of the fan favorites on the team and a force to be reckoned with.  Lynch was traded by the Bills and got off to a slow start with Seattle before "Beast Mode" became a household name against New Orleans.  Even then Marshawn struggled early last season but after improvements he made and the offensive line made, he's become one of the best running backs in the league.  Clemons wasn't even wanted by Seahawks fans at first!  Trading Darryl Tapp was considered a sinful act until Clemons showed (and continues to weekly) that he was the perfect fit for the LEO in Pete Carroll's unique defense.  However, Brandon Browner one upped all of them by coming over from the CFL and turning in to a Pro Bowler in his first season!  I don't know if I've ever been happier for a pro athlete...

What's best about Browner is that he continues to improve week after week and he continues to make huge plays whenever the Seahawks need him.  He's become the new "Big Play" Babs in my mind.  He just has the uncanny ability to come up aces whenever the Seahawks need a big play.  His forced fumble against Carolina, in my mind at least, was THE game changing play of the game.  A close second, again just my opinion, would be him teaming with Truuuuuuuu!! to stop Louis Murphy at the 1 on what could've been a go-ahead touchdown for the Panthers.  Cam Newton got the yutz on the next play and the Seahawks went on to win.  None of it possible without the savage play from Brandon Browner.  The stop at the 1 yard line also had personal significance for yours truly.  I've had a Marcus Trufant Authentic Jersey for years now, I'm pretty sure I got it as a gift from my father on Christmas one of the first seasons the team switched over to the last jerseys.  It's my gameday staple and I've worn the shit out of that thing.  It's still in excellent shape but it's time to move in to the new era of Seahawks football.  I need a new jersey and that goal line stop by Tru and Browner signified a changing of the guard for me.  It was Tru passing the torch to Brandon Browner and now there is no doubt in my mind that when I'm not such a broke ass and can afford it (unless my girlfriend's reading this, then there is no excuse for me not to have a Brandon Browner jersey by Christmas) I will be getting a #39 jersey.  And can I say that I love the #39?  I played baseball my whole life and towards the end of my "career" I started wearing the #38 to signify my birthday, March 8th.  The only question now is whether I get a home blue or wolf grey, hmmm...

Brandon Browner doesn't just bring the pain anymore, the man can straight ball.  However, watching Brandon Browner bring the pain has been one of my favorite things to watch when watching Seahawks football since he joined the team.  Fittingly, I felt that I should leave you all with some of my favorites from #39, enjoy!



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