By Judith Evans
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, September 22, 2005
There is simply no way around it. As much as Marquise Brown affectionately refers to former Washington Redskins wide receiver Charlie Brown as "just my father," the moment he steps onto the field for Episcopal the comparisons are inevitable. Some fan will start musing out loud: He's got those long arms and legs, just like his father. He has those sure hands and burst of speed, just like his father.
So Marquise Brown, who wasn't even born when his father made Pro Bowls and helped the Redskins reach Super Bowls in 1983 and 1984, has learned to accept it. He nods and smiles graciously at those who want to talk about how good the Redskins were then. You could even say he has embraced it.
Marquise called his father two years ago to tell him that he wanted to stop playing baseball year-round and instead work on improving his football skills. He asked if he could come to his father's home in South Carolina for two months to work out. So Charlie Brown, 47, dusted off the workouts he developed as a pro with Art Monk and Darrell Green, and Marquise spent the summer after his sophomore year soaking it up.
"I am grateful to have had my dad," Marquise said. "I learned a lot of things differently as far as football, especially since he played the same position. . . . He really helped me on the fundamentals and techniques of being a receiver."
When Marquise returned to Episcopal last fall, he caught 26 passes for 419 yards and five touchdowns. He also filled in two games at quarterback, rushing for 142 yards on 33 carries and completing nearly 50 percent of his passes for 323 yards and three touchdowns.
This summer, the 5-foot-10, 165-pound receiver made the rounds at college summer camps and has drawn attention from recruiters at Clemson, N.C. State and Virginia. And he's definitely making a name for himself at the Alexandria boarding school, where the Maroon opened the season last weekend with a 38-21 loss to O'Connell.
"It is not even a subject of conversation around here except for a little joking among players," Episcopal linebacker Jenner Wood said of Marquise and his father. "Marquise is less concerned about himself than about making this team better. He does everything he can to help this team win. He's always doing for others."
His mother, Terri Cooper, says her son's level of maturity and responsibility is so high that she often pleads with him to let her be the parent. His father wonders if Marquise sprang from the womb with a streak for independence and an innate sense of purpose. Charlie Brown first saw it when Marquise picked his favorite football team; Cooper saw it when it came time for her son to choose a high school.
Despite his father's place in Redskins history -- and a stint with the team as assistant wide receivers coach in 2000 -- Marquise roots for the Dallas Cowboys. He has since the Cowboys were winning Super Bowls in the 1990s.
"I just laughed about it," said Charlie Brown, who raised Marquise and his older brother, Charles Brown II, until Marquise was 7. "I just thought if you're going to align yourself with somebody, it might as well be champions. He made his own decisions, not doing something just because you have to do it. He had his own sense of purpose."
After living with his father, Marquise moved in with Cooper in Lanham. Several years later, she said Marquise took an active role in deciding which high school he would attend. When the two went to a Black Student Fund Conference at the Convention Center, they discovered Episcopal. Once Marquise toured the school, he wouldn't talk about any other schools, Cooper said.
She said she thinks Marquise wanted to go to Episcopal in part to take some of the burden off her.
"I was devastated that he wanted to go to a boarding school," Cooper said. "He was the one that went on the Internet and talked about the school's high academics, and how he would network with people it would take a lifetime to meet. He told me by the time he goes to college, he would be accustomed to being away."
She added: "I had to admit they were all good reasons. . . .That's Marquise -- a go-getter."
Opposing coaches hold a high opinion of Marquise, as well.
"He's hard to handle in man-on-man coverage," said Bullis Coach Walt King, who saw Brown make eight catches for 121 yards against his Bulldogs last year. "He's quick and has good hands. He has solid technique. I know [how fast] our kids run, and they're not the same."
The two-a-day summer practices with his father played a large role in his success, Brown said. The hours of watching film -- including the touchdown by his father in Super Bowl XVII -- had given him a keener insight into the game. But Marquise has his own opinions on the catch.
"I'm still not sure he got both feet down," he joked.