Jerry Brown (gridiron football)

Jerry Jerome Brown Jr., (October 20, 1987 – December 8, 2012) was an American football linebacker who played for five different teams combined in the National Football League, Arena Football League and Canadian Football League. In college, he played on the defensive line for the University of Illinois. In his professional career, he was a member of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats of the Canadian Football League, the Jacksonville Sharks and San Antonio Talons of the Arena Football League and the Indianapolis Colts and Dallas Cowboys of the National Football League. He was signed as a free agent by the Jacksonville Sharks in 2011 and was a contributor to the Sharks victory in ArenaBowl XXIV by having one tackle assist, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.[1]

Jerry Brown
No. 20, 53, 57
Personal information
Born:(1987-10-20)October 20, 1987
St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.
Died:December 8, 2012(2012-12-08) (aged 25)
Dallas, Texas, United States
Height:6 ft 4 in (1.93 m)
Weight:265 lb (120 kg)
Career information
High school:St. Louis (MO) Vashon
Career history
 * Offseason and/or practice squad member only
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Player stats at
Career Arena statistics
Forced fumbles:1
Player stats at PFR
Player stats at

Early years

Brown played football at Vashon High School, helping his team win three St. Louis Public High League titles and three Missouri district championships. His best year came in 2005, recording 97 tackles, 13 sacks and one interception.

During his high school career, he was a two-time Public High League Defensive MVP and a first-team All-Public High League Conference selection. As a senior, he received PrepStar All-America honors, was named to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch first-team All-Metro squad and was a Missouri Sportswriters and Sportscasters Association Class 5 first-team all-state choice. He was the 11th-ranked high school recruit in Missouri and 53rd-ranked defensive end in the nation according to

College career

In 2006, Brown accepted a scholarship to the University of Illinois. He was redshirted as a freshman and by the end of the season he would go on to be named the team's defensive scout player of the year. He played in 13 games and had 2.5 sacks during Illinois' run to the 2008 Rose Bowl.

In 2008, he saw action in 11 games, recording 3 tackles (1 for loss) against the University of Missouri. In 2009, he had an outstanding spring game making a game-high seven tackles and two sacks, but academic problems eventually forced him to leave school. During his college career, he played mostly as backup defensive end, recording a total of 13 tackles (4 for loss), 2.5 sacks and two passes defensed.

Professional career

Jacksonville Sharks (AFL)

After not being selected in the 2011 NFL Draft, he signed with the Jacksonville Sharks of the Arena Football League (AFL) on March 3, 2011, helping the team win ArenaBowl XXIV.[2] In the final, he posted one tackle, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery. In 13 regular season games he recorded 19.5 tackles, six sacks and three fumble recoveries.

Hamilton Tiger-Cats (CFL)

At the end of the AFL season, he was signed to the Hamilton Tiger-Cats practice roster on September 27, 2011.

San Antonio Talons (AFL)

Brown signed with the San Antonio Talons of the AFL on November 11, 2011. He played in 11 games recording 34 tackles (5 for loss), two fumble recoveries and one blocked kick.

Indianapolis Colts (NFL)

He worked out for the Houston Texans, New York Jets and the Philadelphia Eagles, before being signed as a free agent by the Indianapolis Colts on May 23, 2012 to play linebacker. He was one of the last cuts in preseason before making the team's practice squad. He appeared in one regular season game against the New York Jets, before being waived and signed once again to the practice squad. He was cut from the team on October 20, 2012.

Dallas Cowboys (NFL)

On October 24, 2012, the Dallas Cowboys signed him to their practice squad, where he was making progress by being named scout team player of the week and receiving consideration for a move to the active roster, until losing his life in a car accident.


On December 8, 2012, at 2:21 am, fellow Cowboys and Illinois teammate Josh Brent drove a car at high speeds with Brown in it. The car hit an outside curb on Texas State Highway 114 outside Dallas, causing the vehicle to flip at least once and then come to rest in the middle of a service road. The car caught fire, which was extinguished.[3] Brown was unresponsive at the scene and later pronounced dead. Brent was charged with driving under the influence and intoxication manslaughter.[4] Police stated that Brent attempted to pull Brown out of the car.[3]

This tragedy occurred one day before playing against the Cincinnati Bengals, which was a game with playoff implications for both sides and that the Bengals were heavily favored to win. Head coach Jason Garrett told the team of the incident and its tragic result on the plane, before flying to Cincinnati. That Saturday, the players held emotional meetings and hung the jerseys of Brent and Brown in their locker room.

The game would become one of the most emotional in franchise history. The defense was already going to play without 5 starters (Bruce Carter, Sean Lee, Barry Church, Kenyon Coleman and Jay Ratliff) and they would also end up losing Brent, who was going to start in place of Ratliff. The Cowboys stunned the Bengals with an improbable 20–19 come-from-behind victory that was decided in the closing seconds with a Dan Bailey 40-yard field goal. After the final play, Garrett embraced Jason Hatcher, who held Brown's jersey, which was originally placed on the bench during the game. In Brown's honor, the Cowboys wore a 53 decal on their uniforms, and kept his locker intact.[5]

For the memorial service, Stacey Jackson (Brown's mother) requested Brent to meet with the family at the airport, to also ride and sit with them while at the event. The team presented Jackson with the game ball of the 20–19 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, along with a hard-hat award, which was given to players who did their job regardless of circumstance.[6]


  1. "AFL Box Score: ArenaBowl XXIV - Jacksonville Sharks @ Arizona Rattlers (Aug 12, 2011)". August 12, 2011. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  2. "Historical Team Transactions". Retrieved October 23, 2014.
  3. Biggs, Brad (December 8, 2012). "Josh Brent tried to pull Jerry Brown from his burning Mercedes". Yahoo! Sports. Retrieved December 9, 2012.
  4. Saraceno, Joe; Garafalo, Mike (December 8, 2012). "Cowboys' Josh Brent arrested after crash kills teammate Jerry Brown". USA Today. Retrieved December 8, 2012.
  5. Hanzus, Dan (December 14, 2012). "Cowboys will remember Jerry Brown Jr. with '53' decal". National Football League. Retrieved December 14, 2012.
  6. "Cowboys Hold Private Memorial Service For Brown; Brent Attends". Retrieved February 19, 2016.
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