|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 neverattended a college football game until he played in one at Brown.At his high school, a road trip meant taking an ocean voyage andfootball was no big deal - just a way to get in shape for thewinter basketball season. Ron Brown was an islander - a resident ofMartha's Vineyard, off Cape Cod. He is one of a rare breed: AVineyard athlete who aspired to play college sports, and did so.Back in 1977, Brown told a Providence Journal reporter, "I'd liketo do well to show others (at home) that they can do it." To saythat Ron Brown "did well" in his Brown football career would be anunderstatement, akin to describing a hurricane as a rain shower.Ron ranks as one of the greatest defensive backs in theUniversity's 106-year football history. Playing at safety, he madeseven interceptions in his first two seasons. The fact that he madenone in his senior year is easily explained: The other teams made apoint of throwing the ball away from him. Brown had 115 tackles inhis career, and was described by his Coach John Anderson as "thebest safety I've ever had." In addition to making the All-Ivy firstteam in 1977 and 1978, Brown was named to the All-New England firstteam in those two years. He also made the All-East Coast AthleticConference first team and the A.P. Honorable Mention All-East teamin 1978. Ron Brown was "discovered" by Brown University afterattending a football camp run by then-Brown coach John Anderson. Astar on both his high school football and basketball squads, Ronfound himself one day playing a game of pick-up basketball withBruin assistant football coach Dave Ritchie, who was vacationing onMartha's Vineyard. "Dave told me that Ron was a great athlete,"Anderson recalled later, "and we wanted him very much. Rutgers wasafter him too. I'm sure a lot of other schools would have recruitedhim if he had played for a high school on the mainland." Brown wasalso recruited by Dartmouth and Harvard, but he chose BrownUniversity. "I looked at where the Brown football program wasgoing," he said, "and the fact that I could get a good educationhere." The Bruin coaches were glad he did. "He was by far, the bestI've had in my years of coaching," defensive backfield coach MikeGoldberger said after Ron Brown's senior season. "He's a tremendousathlete. Ron just makes things look easy." After graduation, RonBrown had a free-agent tryout with the Dallas Cowboys, but ashoulder injury put an end to his career there. He also signedcontracts with the New England Patriots, the New York Jets, theChicago Bears, and the U.S. Football League's Philadelphia Stars.In 1982 he was a defensive backfield coach for the New Jersey Ramssemi-pro team. In the meantime, Brown had gone on to graduateschool at Columbia, and he earned his M.P.H. there in 1982, inhealth administration with a specialization in health education. Hereturned to the University in 1983 as head coach of the freshmanfootball team. He is now in his third year on the Bruin coachingstaff, his second as assistant varsity coach with responsibilityfor the defensive backs. "Ron is a fine young coach," Head CoachJohn Rosenberg has said. "As an alumnus and a former Brown player,he can both understand and represent the University in the verybest ways possible." As a coach, Ron Brown has involved footballplayers in Big Brothers of Rhode Island. "I think it's importantfor the players to know there's life outside of football and BrownUniversity," he says. "Being a good role model and serving thecommunity is a very important aspect of being an athlete." RonBrown himself - who has been dubbed by a Big Brothers executive an"Ambassador of Good Will" - is putting his own philosophy intoaction.