Alex Brown signed a one-day contract with the Chicago Bears. On that one day, today, he'll retire a Chicago Bear. He never seemed to make the money the other defensive end was making; no matter who lined up over there. He never won a Super Bowl title, although he came as close as any Bear not on the vaunted 1985 roster. He's not going to be enshrined in Canton unless Canton decides to give me full control of enshrinement moving forward. Because I can say, without question, Alex Brown is one of my all-time favorite Bears.
Why? A million reasons.
AB belonged in a Bears uniform. Belonged in blue and orange. Belonged on the lake in Chicago. He was the quintessential blue collar defensive player in the quintessential blue collar football city (shut up, Pittsburgh). You know that phrase, "blue collar"? It's the phrase commentators usually throw at any white guy that plays in the NFL. They do that because there's an inherent racist assumption being made: black guys are born athletes, white guys have to work at it. It's nonsense but that won't stop you from hearing it out of the booths of CBS and Fox on Sunday afternoons.
Blue collar means work and AB worked - often harder than anyone else on the field. When the Bears needed a blocked kick, there was #96. When the Bears needed a sack, there was #96. And I would argue, I think without debate, no defensive end played the run better than #96 during Lovie's tenure as Bears head coach. That run-stopping ability rarely showed up in the box score or on SportsCenter but it was the foundation on which the entire defensive system was built.
My favorite Alex Brown moment was against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2008. On a goal line stand to win the game, Brown came off the edge and wrangled Brian Westbrook to the ground. I remember thinking, in that moment, "Wow. That's a great football player." I can't think of a higher compliment to pay Alex Brown. He was a great football player.
I have been looking for a video of the play and this is the best I can find:
Enjoy your night, Alex Brown. And I hope the Bears faithful at Soldier Field tonight can provide you a bit of the joy you provided us for eight years.
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