Washington Redskins tackle Jammal Brown looks for a fresh start in D.C.
Monday, September 6, 2010; 12:02 AM
In what should have been the biggest game of his life, Jammal Brown stood on the sideline and wept.
"Just cried like a baby," he said.
Everything was supposed to have led up to this, the Super Bowl. That's why he battled through everything. When his mother passed away while he was still in high school. When his college coach made him switch positions. When a storm welcomed him into the NFL - taking his home but not his rookie season. He kept going.
But there he was in February, his New Orleans Saints team in the Super Bowl and Brown could only watch. Injured and wearing street clothes, Brown could only watch and cry.
"It was like being at somebody else's birthday party," Brown said. "It's not your birthday, but you're still there celebrating. So you're part of the moment, you're at the party, but it's not your party."
He vowed that if his team won the Super Bowl, he wouldn't dare touch the Vince Lombardi Trophy. And when the Saints did, beating the Indianapolis Colts, he stayed true to his word.
A two-time Pro Bowler, Brown came to the Washington Redskins in a June trade, an important cornerstone of the Redskins' remade offensive line. Though his best years came at left tackle, he's moving to the right side of the offensive line in Washington, chalking up his lost 2009 campaign - the one that began with a season-ending injury and ended with bittersweet tears - as another hurdle in a life filled with them.
"I just got stuff I need to prove to myself. I don't got to prove nothing to nobody else," Brown, 29, said. "I've been to Pro Bowls, I've done this, done that. I've been through everything. But I want to prove to myself that I can come back from this injury. And I want to get back to the Super Bowl."
Growing up quickly
Born in a military family, Brown was always bigger than his peers and always dominant on the football field.
"I could tell that he would be something special, but no one knew how far it would go," said his father, Charles Brown.
And no one was certain whether Brown would get in his own way. His family relocated to Lawton, Okla., when he was young, and high school coaches knew they'd have a good player in a few years - if he made it that far.
Both of Brown's sisters dropped out before reaching high school. His brother was in a federal prison for drug trafficking. And Brown was disruptive inside the classroom and out of it.