When looking back on some of the greatest wide receivers to ever play in the NFL, some names that come to mind are Jerry Rice, Michael Irvin, Cris Carter, Randy Moss, and Terrell Owens. Most people never really think of Troy Brown as being up there with those guys.
While Troy might not be up there in the Top 10, he was most certainly one of the best, if not the best, wide receivers the New England Patriots ever had.
Brown was a standout wide receiver for the Marshall Thundering Herd. He led Division I-AA in both kickoff and punt return yards in 1991 along with leading the Thundering Herd to its first National Championship. He also holds the record for his kickoff return average of 29.26 yards per return.
Troy was drafted by the Patriots in the eight round of the 1993 NFL Draft. He was eventually cut by the team, but resigned in early October. Brown didn't see much real playing time until 1997 when he finished with 41 catches for a total of 607 yards and six touchdowns. He finally became a starter in 2000 where he had 83 catches for 944 yards and four touchdowns.
His breakout year would come his second year as a starter. With a new quarterback in Tom Brady, Brown caught 101 catches for 1199 yards and five touchdowns easily the best of his career. He helped lead the Patriots to their first Super Bowl along the way and earned his first ever trip to the Pro Bowl.
Many remembered his punt return in the AFC title game against the Pittsburgh Steelers that helped seal the victory along with his lateral on a blocked punt that led to another Patriots touchdown.
While his numbers dipped a little in the following years, with the addition of other receivers Troy still put up good numbers going for 890 yards in 2002 and 472 yards in 2003. In 2004, he showed his versatility by playing on defense for the Patriots and had three interceptions just one behind the team lead held by Eugene Wilson.
Troy was released by the Patriots in March of 2005 due to salary cap concerns but was re-signed by the team even though he had received better offers from other teams most notably the Saints showing he wasn't just in it for the money something not all players can say they do these days.
Troy's greatest defensive plays came in the 2006 division game against the San Diego Chargers. With the Patriots trailing 21-13 late in the fourth quarter Tom Brady threw his third interception of the game, which looked like it would have sealed the win for the Chargers, but as Marlon McCree was running it back, Brown stripped him of the ball and the Patriots recovered and leading to the game tying score and eventual game winning field goal.
Troy Brown's last full season with the Patriots was in 2006 as he was placed on the PUP list in 2007 and only activated at the end of November. Troy officially retired on September 5, 2008 after playing 15 years in the NFL all with the Patriots. He would retire as the all-time leader for the Patriots in receptions with 557 catches. Troy was also selected as a member of the Patriots' 50th anniversary team in 2009.
Who would have thought a guy coming out of the eight round would go on to be such a good player. To most Patriots fans he was one of the best players to ever play for the Patriots and a huge reason why they won three Super Bowls.