Fakhir Brown Happy To Be Back
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
In a telling example of just how disjointed things were in the final days of the Scott Linehan tenure, cornerback Fakhir Brown said no one from the organization informed him that he had been released.
So in his third year as a starter with the Rams, Brown learned he had been released through his agent, Ted Marchibroda, son of the former NFL head coach.
After missing all of the preseason because of a shoulder injury, Brown was just working himself back into form when he learned he had been cut.
"I was very shocked and surprised," Brown said. "I played two or three games, so I was just feeling comfortable. And all of a sudden, they told (Marchibroda) they were about to release me. I was like, 'For real?' "
Yes, for real.
Brown was released Sept. 24, capping a tumultuous 24-hour period at Rams Park that also included the benching of quarterback Marc Bulger by Linehan.
But after spending the last 2½ weeks in career limbo, Brown re-signed Monday with the Rams. He was back on the practice field Wednesday, and will start Sunday against Dallas.
Brown did get a phone call from Jim Haslett after he was released.
"Just to let him know that I wasn't in agreement with it," Haslett said. "I wished him luck. I told him if he needed help getting another job, I would help him. And if things worked out and we could get you back, we'd love to have you back."
Turns out, Haslett was named head coach less than a week removed from that conversation, replacing the fired Linehan on Sept. 29. He immediately began working on re-signing Brown, but accomplishing that took longer than expected.
So what took so long? For one, there were family issues. Brown's three children and his girlfriend moved away to San Diego. For another, there were several teams expressing at least some interest in signing him.
"Baltimore was probably the one closest to coming to a deal," Brown said. "It was so crazy. There was so much going on. I was thinking about so many different things."
Even when Haslett called about re-signing with St. Louis, Brown had to think it over.
"It wasn't Haslett's fault that I was gone," Brown said. "I didn't know who was in charge of the personnel. I could come back here and get released again, I didn't know. So I just wanted to find out what was really going on."
Asked if his release was simply a case of Linehan not liking him, Brown said, "You never know. I hope that he did like me, because I liked him. I'm hoping that it was just a move that he made, a business move by him, trying to win."
Of course, it's usually not a good business move to release perhaps your best cornerback, particularly on a defense that had been struggling in pass coverage.
Brown, who lives in St. Peters, worked out twice a day during his hiatus from the game. Some of Brown's workouts took place on the track and football field of nearby Lutheran-St. Charles High School. Brown even struck up a friendship with the school's football coach, Dough Kuhlmann.
"He was real cool," Brown said. "He was like, if there's anything that I need just let him know."
What Brown needed most was a job, which he now has. His family will be moving back from San Diego soon. The time off gave his shoulder even more of a chance to fully heal. (Brown suffered a slight tear of the rotator cuff and some tendon damage in his shoulder on the first day of training camp.)
But without Haslett's promotion to head coach, Brown probably doesn't return to St. Louis.
"Me and Jim Haslett have been real close for a long time," Brown said. "He's been loyal to me, so I was going to be loyal to him because we're friends. He's just not my coach. ... I was prepared to go somewhere else until Coach Haslett and I talked."
Brown's return comes in the nick of time for the Rams' battered secondary, which lost Ricky Manning Jr. for the season with a broken distal tibia in his right foot — a bone near the ankle.
Even with Brown, the Rams go into the Dallas game with just four healthy corners and three safeties. Brown and Ron Bartell will start at corner, with Jason Craft at nickel back and Jonathan Wade in reserve.
Their task will be daunting even with Brad Johnson replacing the injured Tony Romo at quarterback. The Cowboys' receiving corps, which already features tight end Jason Witten and wide receiver Terrell Owens, was bolstered by Tuesday's trade with Detroit for wide receiver Roy Williams.
Brown welcomes the challenge.
"It gives you a chance to show your skills and show that you can cover a top receiver in the league, that's how I look at it," Brown said. "I always enjoy playing against good receivers."