Remembering Mike Brown
When you think of Chicago Bears from the past decade, whom do you think of? Brian Urlacher, Rex Grossman, Lovie Smith, Dick Jauran, David Terrell? I know, I know, those last couple were low blows, but when you think Chicago Bears, you will have to remember Mike Brown.
Mike Brown was one of those special players who made you smile, win or lose, because of the effort and the heart he would bring on every play, on every series, in every game of every week.
He was a player who LOVED the team he played for. If Mike Brown was a fan, he would be considered a die-hard.
Mike Brown's career with the Bears officially ended last month with the announcement he would not be brought back. It is a pity and a shame that his tenure in the NFL will be remembered more for his injuries than his electric play on the field and his overall leadership in the locker room.
Drafting the Man
Mike Brown was selected with the 39th pick in the second round by the Chicago Bears in the 2000 draft.
As a rookie, Brown played every game for the Bears, recording 102 tackles, and an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Winning the Hearts of Bears Fans
In 2001, Brown became legendary when in back-to-back weeks he had an interception that was returned for a touchdown to win a game in OT. The first was against the 49ers where a Jeff Garcia pass was bobbled by Terrell Owens and No. 30 snatched out of the air and taken home.
The following week, the Bears were down 21-7 against the Cleveland Browns in Chicago. After the Bears scored a touchdown under two minutes, they recovered the onside kick and tied the game on a hail mary.
In overtime it was Mike's time again, as a Tim Couch pass was batted up at the line of scrimmage and the ever present safety ran right underneath it and waltzed into the end zone.
He finished the season with 68 tackles, 5 INT's, 2 forced fumbles and 3 sacks.
The Soul of the Defense
If Brian Urlacher was considered the heart of the Chicago Bears' defense, then Mike Brown was the soul. He was consistently making plays and, at times, seemed to be willing the team to play better.
Over the next two years he had a combined 169 tackles, 5 interceptions, 3 forced fumbles and another defensive TD.
The Beginning of the End
In the second game of the 2004 campaign, the Bears defeated the Green Bay Packers 21-10 up in Wisconsin. Mike Brown recovered a fumble and returned in 95 yards for a touchdown just before halftime.
However, with a little under four minutes to go in the game, he ruptured his Achilles Tendon and was done for the rest of the year. So began a series of unfortunate injuries.
Coming back: Part I
After coming back in 2005, Mike Brown played in the first 12 games of the season, and at one point, righted a sinking ship when he called out the Bears for their play after a 1-3 start to the season.
They rattled off eight straight wins and made it to the playoffs, although Brown missed the last four games with a calf injury.
The Bug Strikes Again
In the playoffs, the Bears lost to the Carolina Panthers 29-21. On the second play from scrimmage, Jake Delhomme hit Steve Smith for a 50+ yard touchdown.
As Smith got inside the five-yard line, he juked Brown, and strutted into the end zone. Brown left in the first quarter after re-injuring his calf
Another Big Play, Another Injury
2005 was all to familiar as Brown suffered yet another injury in Week Six against the Arizona Cardinals. A fracture in his foot sent him to the Injured reserve list yet again.
This was after he recovered a fumble and returned it for yet another touchdown to spark an amazing comeback. Charles Tillman also returned a fumble for a touchdown and Devin Hester took a punt back for a score that was the eventual game winner 24-23.
Finished Before He Even Really Got Started
In Week One, against the San Diego Chargers, Mike Brown was clothes-lined by fullback Lorenzo Neal and suffered another season injury, this time to his knee.
This of course was after another brilliant interception earlier in the game. Lorenzo Neal admitted to the hit not being legal and apologized after the game.
Brown knew the injury was bad before X-rays were even taken. He choked up at the press conference after the game, knowing he might have played his last game.
One Last Shot
Mike Brown came back in 2008 and played in all but the last game. His numbers were down from previous years and you could tell he might have been thinking to much about not getting hurt.
Nevertheless, he went out and played his heart out, as we had come to expect from him. He was hurt in the second-to-last game, with an injured calf.
A Final Goodbye
This offseason, Jerry Angelo informed the media and Mike Brown that the Bears would not be offering him a new contract.
It is a sad day for all who have watched Mike Brown play. He was one of the few players in the NFL that you could tell cared about a team as much, if not more, than you did.
Thank you for all the memories Mike, you will always be a Chicago Bear.