|Hometown:||Martha's Vineyard, MA|
Ronald A. Brown '79
Hometown: Martha's Vineyard, MA
Year Inducted: 1985
Two-time All-Ivy defensive back Ronald A. Brown '79 had never attended a college football game until he played in one at Brown. At his high school, a road trip meant taking an ocean voyage and football was no big deal - just a way to get in shape for the winter basketball season. Ron Brown was an islander - a resident of Martha's Vineyard, off Cape Cod. He is one of a rare breed: A Vineyard athlete who aspired to play college sports, and did so. Back in 1977, Brown told a Providence Journal reporter, "I'd like to do well to show others (at home) that they can do it." To say that Ron Brown "did well" in his Brown football career would be an understatement, akin to describing a hurricane as a rain shower. Ron ranks as one of the greatest defensive backs in the University's 106-year football history. Playing at safety, he made seven interceptions in his first two seasons. The fact that he made none in his senior year is easily explained: The other teams made a point of throwing the ball away from him. Brown had 115 tackles in his career, and was described by his Coach John Anderson as "the best safety I've ever had." In addition to making the All-Ivy first team in 1977 and 1978, Brown was named to the All-New England first team in those two years. He also made the All-East Coast Athletic Conference first team and the A.P. Honorable Mention All-East team in 1978. Ron Brown was "discovered" by Brown University after attending a football camp run by then-Brown coach John Anderson. A star on both his high school football and basketball squads, Ron found himself one day playing a game of pick-up basketball with Bruin assistant football coach Dave Ritchie, who was vacationing on Martha's Vineyard. "Dave told me that Ron was a great athlete," Anderson recalled later, "and we wanted him very much. Rutgers was after him too. I'm sure a lot of other schools would have recruited him if he had played for a high school on the mainland." Brown was also recruited by Dartmouth and Harvard, but he chose Brown University. "I looked at where the Brown football program was going," he said, "and the fact that I could get a good education here." The Bruin coaches were glad he did. "He was by far, the best I've had in my years of coaching," defensive backfield coach Mike Goldberger said after Ron Brown's senior season. "He's a tremendous athlete. Ron just makes things look easy." After graduation, Ron Brown had a free-agent tryout with the Dallas Cowboys, but a shoulder injury put an end to his career there. He also signed contracts with the New England Patriots, the New York Jets, the Chicago Bears, and the U.S. Football League's Philadelphia Stars. In 1982 he was a defensive backfield coach for the New Jersey Rams semi-pro team. In the meantime, Brown had gone on to graduate school at Columbia, and he earned his M.P.H. there in 1982, in health administration with a specialization in health education. He returned to the University in 1983 as head coach of the freshman football team. He is now in his third year on the Bruin coaching staff, his second as assistant varsity coach with responsibility for the defensive backs. "Ron is a fine young coach," Head Coach John Rosenberg has said. "As an alumnus and a former Brown player, he can both understand and represent the University in the very best ways possible." As a coach, Ron Brown has involved football players in Big Brothers of Rhode Island. "I think it's important for the players to know there's life outside of football and Brown University," he says. "Being a good role model and serving the community is a very important aspect of being an athlete." Ron Brown himself - who has been dubbed by a Big Brothers executive an "Ambassador of Good Will" - is putting his own philosophy into action.