MANHATTAN, Kan. — The truth about Arthur Brown lies somewhere between two Michaels: Singletary and Symon. Samurai Mike and The Iron Chef.
“Last night, I think I made some — what did I make?” recounts Brown, Kansas State’s All-World middle linebacker, with a grin. “I made chicken with some asparagus and some roasted potatoes. Tried to make enough to (last) a couple of days throughout the week.”
When the senior from Wichita isn’t crushing tailbacks, he’s crushing rosemary. Or thyme. At the last Brown family get-together — a true team cookout, everybody brought something to the table — he presented the masses with an offering of grilled salmon, garnished with potatoes and onions.
“It was excellent,” notes family friend/adviser Brian Butler, a self-professed gourmand and longtime sampler of Arthur’s culinary wares. “He takes tips (in the kitchen), the same way he does on the field. He watches cooking shows.”
And not just cooking shows, either. Brown might be the only member of the All-Big 12 defense with an encyclopedic knowledge of the daily schedule on Home & Garden Television — the niche cable network better known as HGTV.
“‘Design On a Dime,’ ‘Property Brothers,’ ‘Color Splash’ …” Brown says. “I like pretty much all of them.”
Wait. ‘Property Brothers?’ ‘Color Splash?’ What in the name of Matt Millen is going on around here?
“I do like to go browse around at those Pier 1s, and stuff like that,” Brown continues. “I just enjoy going in and browsing around. I don’t plan on buying anything.”
With that, he laughs.
“It’s just something that — I don’t know WHERE the taste was acquired.”
Of course, his father, Arthur Sr., has a theory on that one. He figures the younger Brown got the cooking bug from his mom, Leionnie, and the furniture bug from his dad, who’s been building things from scratch — cabinets, tables — for as long as the 22-year-old defender can remember.
“I know he likes making things with his hands,” Arthur Sr. recalls. “Whenever I might make something, he would be there and always would be intrigued.”
Always intrigued. Always focused. The younger Brown’s dossier reads the way Singletary’s did during the latter’s playing days: Quiet and reflective outside the white lines, crazy intense between them. Both men roll with the kind of stare that could burn through the vault at Fort Knox.
“He’s not your normal 22-year-old,” Butler says. “He definitely has some interests that aren’t like normal 22-year-olds. He’s just a little bit more refined.”
That and a lot more mature. Much has been written this week about the Kansas State star, especially as it pertains to the Miami Hurricanes, Saturday’s gate-crashers at Bill Snyder Family Stadium and Brown’s original collegiate choice coming out of Wichita’s East High in 2008.
All of it’s now water that’s several bridges removed, some of it choppy: Limited snaps, challenging relationships, ex-‘Canes booster Nevin Shapiro. Long story short, a fresh start and a new locale proved to be the perfect medicine, given the benefit of hindsight. Last fall, Brown’s first in Manhattan, he blossomed, dicing his way to 101 tackles — 9.5 of them for losses — en route to almost unanimous all-conference honors.
“One thing Coach Snyder always says is, ‘Keep the game in between the lines,'” Arthur Brown says of his 2008 and ’09 seasons with the Hurricanes, in which he played primarily on special teams. “And that’s something I definitely keep in mind while I’m out there.”
Some days you’re Chris Crocker, some days you’re Betty.
“Growing up, I would always watch my mother in the kitchen,” the defender explains. “I always enjoyed eating food, so I guess just over the years, (I was) just finding an interest for actually preparing food as well.”
He’s cooked for teammates, roommates, friends of friends. So many recipes, so little time. Brown’s muse, like his motor, is rarely idling.
“I took a piano course during (one) semester here,” the linebacker says.
Were you any good?
“It depends on what you define as ‘good,'” he replies.
Can you handle anything trickier than ‘Chopsticks?’
There’s that grin again.
“I was OK,” the younger Brown says. “I was OK. I played piano in my earlier years, growing up. I only did it for a year, and when I got serious, I committed myself to football.”
This fall, the notoriously soft-spoken defender has committed himself again. To communicating. To talking. To opening up.
“He definitely is a quiet person, but when he speaks, everyone listens,” quarterback Collin Klein says of Brown. “Leadership is an art, not a science. And whatever we all need to do to help us get a victory, I know we’ll do it.”
Leadership is an art. Good salmon? Now that’s a science.
“One thing at a time, one game at a time,” Brown says.
It’s about taking an ownership role, being heard as well as seen. Know this: Whether it’s in the pantry or in the locker room, Arthur Brown is no longer afraid to stir the pot.