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Thread: 2nd chances pay off for Brown
2nd chances pay off for Brown
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Swerving to avoid another car, the Chevrolet skidded off the road, went airborne, vaulted a fence, caromed off a van, careened down a steep, tree-lined embankment, then slammed into several other vehicles at the bottom.
Finally, it lurched to a stop.
"I remember it all ... just like it was yesterday," Rams cornerback Fakhir Brown. "It could've been a whole lot worse. I could've killed myself."
That was Brown's first second chance: He'd cheated death, suffering injuries to his right shoulder that required surgery but otherwise escaping unscathed. "I'm thankful," he said.
On Sunday, Brown will start at right cornerback for the Rams in San Francisco. A free-agent pickup in the offseason, Brown had a sack and an interception vs. Denver last week in an 18-10 Week 1 victory. "It was a good way to open up the season with a new team," he said.
The trek from wounded journeyman to valued starter was filled with obstacles for Brown, 28. It included some agonizing rehab, painful comeuppance, and, ultimately, impressive detective work by Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett.
Brown and his eight brothers and sisters were raised by a single mother who budgeted her meager pay as a part-time accountant to the penny. When she wasn't filling out clients' tax forms, she was figuring ways to feed and clothe her children.
College seemed out of the question. But Fakhir -- his name, pronounced fuh-KEER, means "superb" in Arabic -- was a football standout at Mansfield (La.) High and earned a scholarship to nearby Grambling State. But he saw little reason to stay when legendary coach Eddie Robinson retired after Brown's sophomore season.
"Once he left, I really didn't want to be there," Brown said. "I had to go make some money for my family. My mom, she needed some help."
Brown wound up in the Canadian Football League, where he played six games for the Toronto Argonauts in 1998. The next summer, Brown got his second second chance, when the San Diego Chargers invited him to camp.
He made the practice squad, then was promoted to the active roster after the first three weeks of the season. He had six tackles in his first NFL start, then finished strong with 10 in the last game of the year.
Brown's future in the league, plus his family's financial standing, appeared to be on an upswing. And then he lost control on a curvy section of a hilly San Diego road, and his hopes plunged downhill along with his car.
Brown missed the first seven games of the 2000 season while his shoulder mended, and he was unable to convince the Chargers' brass that he wasn't damaged goods. They released him after the following preseason.
"The coaches told me to stay in shape, because another team would probably be calling me," he said. But the phone remained silent.
"I went back to my hometown, and there were some people there talking negative, saying, 'I knew you weren't going to do this, I knew you weren't going to do that,'" Brown said. "Plus, I had to make a living. I had to get another job."
In 2002, Haslett -- then the New Orleans Saints' head coach -- hired ex-Chargers coach Mike Riley as an assistant. That's when Brown got his third second chance.
"We were looking for a guy for training camp, and Mike says, 'Hey, I know this guy named Fakhir Brown who started for me a couple of games in San Diego,'" Haslett recalled. "We tried to hunt him down and couldn't find him anywhere."
Finally, they learned that he was working at a car wash in Lafayette, La. "We signed him, brought him in, and he made our team," Haslett said.
Brown, 5 feet 11 and 192 pounds, played in 56 games, with 14 starts, over four years for Haslett. "You just can't find corners like him, big guys that can run, are athletic and tough," Haslett said.
Which is why the Rams dangled a five-year deal worth $12 million when Brown became available in the offseason.
"He showed from the time he got out there in the offseason how good a player he is," Rams coach Scott Linehan. "He was immediately one of the guys that opened everybody's eyes."
Brown realizes that after three second chances, he's already ahead of the game. "Those were some hard times ... bad times," he said. "I'm just happy that I was able to make it back."
Re: 2nd chances pay off for Brown
We were really lucky to land this guy -- the article doesn't go into much detail about Brown off the field, so I will throw in this tidbit I witnessed a few minutes after my wife and I exited the EJ Dome after the Ram - Bronco game.
As we were walking back to the Drury we encountered a temporary barricade which created a 20 foot passageway from the Ed to a ground level parking garage located in or under the Drury. The barricade was lined with people on both sides and we shortly thereafter observed Ram players filing out sporadically, one or two at a time. Alex Barron, Claude Wroten, Will Witherspoon, Kevin Curtis, Pisa Tinosamoa, and finally Fakir Brown.
Most of the players (I may have forgotten a few) signed autographs for a lucky few, (kevin Curtis was very generous) but Fakir was a real surprise. He was the last guy out accompanied by what appeared to be his wife and at least two young children one of which was held in his wife's arms. Fakir stopped at the very beginning of the barricade and began to sign autographs starting with the youngest kids; he signed and signed and signed eventually he began signing stuff for the adults. I don't know how long he was there, but it was probably at least 15 minutes, meanwhile his wife continued to carry one child while looking after another ... not once did she seem impatient either. There was one poignant moment I will never forget: After Brown had been signing for probably 10 minutes or more, a little blonde headed boy managed to squirm his way through the crowd close to Fakir--he was probably not more than 5 or 6 at most. Fakir spotted him, beckoned him closer and asked him what he wanted signed. The small boy replied that he wanted Fakir to sign his jersey (I don't remember the name or number). Because the boy was so small, Brown had to squeeze between the barricade to reach him. the little guy was so amazed he just stood there practically speechless. At that moment (I was right next to them) I was able to see the wisdom and compassion in Brown's eyes as he gently and patiently manuvered the boy into a position where he could sign the kid's jersey. Fakir continued to sign until most everyone was accommodated. I'll never forget that moment ... only once have I ever personally witnessed anything like it, and that was years ago when I took my then young son to a Rams training camp in Anaheim ... Kevin Greene was involved in that one -- but that's another story...
If I could figure out how to insert a name in the I support so & so section it would be Fakir !!!
Re: 2nd chances pay off for BrownRamsFan16
Re: 2nd chances pay off for Brown
Fakhir was one of those guys I thought weren't going to be that good, and he's really been helping out so far (obviously, he had one pick last game!). He's here because of Haslett, and it's great to know that Haslett knows talent when he see's it, and he definitely saw it in Brown, and that's why we got him here now.
Always and Forever a fan of the St. Louis Rams
Re: 2nd chances pay off for Brown