Raiders general manager and part-owner Al Davis acquired Mr. Brown in a 1967 trade from Denver, one of the best moves he made during his Hall of Fame career running the team.
Mr. Brown went on to have 12 brilliant seasons with Oakland, highlighted by his 75-yard interception return for a touchdown against Minnesota, which helped the Raiders win their first Super Bowl following the 1976 season.
“His legendary performance on the field changed the way the cornerback position was played,” the team said in a statement, “and his valued guidance as a coach, mentor and administrator permeated the organization and touched countless individuals both on and off the field.”
Mr. Brown was one of the game’s best lockdown cornerbacks and fit perfectly in Davis’s preferred bump-and-run style of defense. He had 54 career interceptions, was a first-team all-pro five times between the NFL and the former American Football League, and made the Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 1984.
His most memorable play came in Super Bowl XI against the Vikings on Jan. 9, 1977. With the Raiders leading 26-7 in the fourth quarter, Mr. Brown picked off a pass from Hall of Famer Fran Tarkenton and raced for the score, with radio broadcaster Bill King providing the memorable by-by-play: “He looks and throws — intercepted by the Oakland Raiders’ Willie Brown at the 30, 40, 50! He’s going all the way! Old Man Willie! Touchdown, Raiders!”
Mr. Brown retired two seasons later. He was an assistant coach for the Raiders from 1979 to 1988, was head coach at Long Beach State University in California in 1991, coached at Jordan High School in Los Angeles in 1994 and returned to the Raiders as director of staff development when they moved from Los Angeles back to Oakland in 1995.
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Mr. Brown was a regular presence around the team during that time, working with the cornerbacks and in more recent years announcing the team’s picks during the annual NFL draft.
William Ferdie Brown was born in Yazoo City, Miss., on Dec. 2, 1940.
He played football at Grambling College (now Grambling State University) under coach Eddie Robinson and was undrafted after leaving school with a bachelor’s degree in 1962.
“I didn’t play [defensive back] in college,” he told ESPN in 2013. “I just knew that if you beat the hell out of the receivers coming off the line of scrimmage, that was going to affect whether they could catch the ball or not.”
Mr. Brown, who later earned a master’s from Long Beach State, was cut by the Houston Oilers in his first training camp, in 1963. He soon signed with Denver — part of the AFL at the time — and was named a starter midway through his rookie year, becoming an AFL all-pro in his second season.
Complete information on survivors was not immediately available.