Big Shoes To Fill......



It's not going to be an easy offseason.  The retirement of a player who personifies the "Tradition, Honor, and Passion" that has become the club's motto will leave a pair of large boots to fill in terms of leadership and professionalism.  While Brian McBride was universally respected as a National Team and MLS icon, no one player said Chicago Fire more than CJ Brown.  As the last member of the original Fire team in 1998, Brown has been with the Fire through every year and every match of the club's existence.  That fact alone is impressive, but his demeanor, representation of the club, and leadership has been even more impressive over the course of those 370 games in uniform. 

Brown began considering retirement last year and decided to return in 2010 since limited playing time in 2009 was not the way he wanted to end his career.  "This season was frustrating but 2004 was the same way. Last year I got to play a little but didn't play the full season.  I didn't want to go out that way" said Brown via conference call on his way to Los Angeles for his final MLS trip as a player. 

The physicall toll that his body has taken was the main factor in his decision to hang up his boots.  After discussing options with his wife, parents, and agent Brown decided that this was the right time to move on, "I'm physically not able to keep up as much as I would like to."

Brown didn't express much regret over failing to appear in last weekend's match against DC United in order to be acknowledged by the Toyota Park crowd out of respect for the accomplishments of Brian McBride.  "I'm not big on being the center of attention but I love the fans and they're one of the reasons why I've been here so long.  It would have been great to do something this year, but if I come back and we do it next year that's fine" said Brown. He chose to announce his retirement after the last day of training before leaving for Los Angeles rather than detract from the moment McBride enjoyed on Saturday.  "I didn't want to stand in front of cameras and give a speech like Brian so I took the easy way out by telling everybody yesterday."

Brown should be a shoe-in 2011 inductee into the Ring of Fire and admitted that he would like to pursue a coaching career in MLS as an assitant, preferably with the Fire if the situation is presented. 

"Chicago has been great to me.  Bob Bradley gave me an opportunity and I've been here since.  The fans embraced me and they're one of the reasons I've stayed here.  The organization has been great.  We've had our ups and downs but they've been very good to me and I appreciate that.  I want to thank everybody for embracing me and letting me play this game".

If Ernie Banks is Mr. Cub, CJ Brown is Mr. Fire.


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  • Thanks CJ for a great ride, you have served the organization and fans with honor and distinction! Best of luck in all of your future endeavors!

  • From

  • Brown, McBride, Moreno, Lewis, Klein (Twellman?) leaving. Castillo, Fernandes, Najar, Juninho etc.. coming. MLS is certainly changing a lot right now.

  • In reply to fire1020:

    The jury is still out on Twellman. Yesterday, in the ESPN studio, he said that he hasn't made his decision yet; he is thinking it over with his family.

  • Wouldn't it be refreshing if the clowns who run Comcast SportsNet Chicago gave CJ Brown the respect that Comcast SportsNet in DC is giving Jamie Moreno?

  • In reply to cesba:

    That is kind of bush league what Comcast SportsNet Chicago didn't give CJ Brown the same respect as Jaime Moreno in DC. When it comes down to soccer coverage in Chiago, it is the worst. At least, have the common decency to give CJ Brown a 5 minute tribute looking back in his career instead of shoving high school football hi-lites that nobody cares about down the viewers throats. It is just pure ignorance CSN Chicago.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    Very good 11 minute special on Jaime Moreno's career.

  • In reply to longoria3:

    CJ Brown's conference call with media......

  • Best wishes, CJ, in your post-playing career. You are a class act and the personification of the ideal footballer.

  • CJ has always been a class act. As I said somewhere else, I'm really frustrated with the coach that he didn't get to play any of the DC game so that we could give him a standing ovation as well. Everyone knew he might not be back, so even if we weren't going to make a big deal about it, it would have been nice for him to play one last time in front of the fans. We'll miss his passion, humor, and dedication. All the best to him in his post-playing days.

  • I would love to see CJ start next year as assistant coach and finish it as the 2nd head coach to win it as a player and a manager.

    You will be missed.

  • My CJ memory is hanging out with him, Jesse Marsch, and Jim Curtin at Jimmy's Pub during the North Central College days. It was a pre-playoffs psyche-up event.

  • CJ is "class". He always left it all on the field. He's the type of person that anyone would want as a teammate. I met him briefly at O'Hare and what struck me then and remains with me now is his smile. If the Fire don't pick him up as a coach, any college should be jumping at the chance to have a coach like him. Best of luck CJ!!

  • From Jon Busch's blog.....

  • Was that last year when he did that?

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