Ex-tackle Orlando Brown found dead at home at 40
Orlando ”Zeus” Brown, the 360-pound tackle who in 1999 was
accidentally hit in the eye with a penalty flag and missed three
seasons because of the damage it caused, was found dead at his
Baltimore home. He was 40.
Firefighters were called about 11 a.m. Friday because Brown was
unresponsive at his home near the Inner Harbor, fire spokesman
Battalion Chief Kevin Cartwright said. He said Brown was dead when
firefighters arrived. The cause of death wasn’t known.
Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said firefighters called
police, routine procedure in such cases. He said there were no
signs of trauma or suspicious activity.
Brown, a 6-foot-7 offensive tackle, played 10 NFL seasons – four
with the Cleveland Browns (1993-95 and 1999) and six with the
Baltimore Ravens (1996-98 and 2003-05). He started 119 of his 129
Brown will be remembered for the game between Cleveland and
Jacksonville a dozen years ago when the massive tackle was struck
in the right eye by a weighted penalty flag thrown by official Jeff
Triplette. Brown stormed on the field and pushed Triplette, drawing
Brown, whose father was blind from glaucoma, said concern for
his eyesight caused him to confront Triplette. Brown was
hospitalized for six days with bleeding behind the eye. He sued the
NFL for $200 million, settling the lawsuit for $25 million.
He missed the next three seasons because of the injury,
returning to football and the Ravens for the 2003 season. The
Ravens learned of Brown’s death during practice.
”Everybody knew what he meant to this organization,” Ravens
coach John Harbaugh said. ”We’re forever grateful for what he did
for the present team. We can’t express enough sorrow for his
Ravens director of player development Harry Swayne, Brown’s
former teammate and fellow tackle, called Brown ”a big old puppy
dog with a little bit of a bark.”
”He had a lot of friends around the league,” he added. ”He
was one of the best guys. It’s a tough loss.”
Browns tackle Tony Pashos played three seasons in Baltimore with
”He was a really good teammate,” Pashos said. ”I came in
under him as a backup. Even when Zeus wasn’t on the team he came
around and supported us. He loved us. He loved football. He could
never walk away. Man, I can’t believe it.”
”I remember the attitude he brought to the building to the
room,” he added. ”He tried hard. He told the young guys
throughout practice to try hard and work on technique but then when
it comes to games, it’s about taking the other guy’s will. And he
was the apex of that. He did do that.”
Former Ravens coach Brian Billick said Brown will always be one
of his favorites.
”He brought such passion and physicality to practices and
games,” Billick said in a statement released by the Ravens.
”There is no way to quantify his heart, his actual love to play
football. The game was so important to him.”
New England coach Bill Belichick, too, was shocked by the death
of Brown, whom he signed and coached for three years with
”Orlando improved as a player as much as anyone I have ever
seen, as he went from being a defensive lineman at South Carolina
State to becoming one of the game’s top offensive tackles, when he
sustained his unfortunate eye injury,” Belichick said in a
statement. ”Orlando was a true throwback player who loved football
and was as tough as they come.”
Brown was a frequent visitor to the Ravens’ practices, tutoring
young linemen Jah Reid and Ramon Harewood.
”He took time out of his busy schedule over the last couple of
months to work with me to help me grow as a player,” Harewood
said. ”To have a player and man of his stature do that for a young
player like myself says all you need to know about him.”
Brown was born in Washington and played in college at Central
State in Ohio and South Carolina State.
He was divorced and is survived by three sons.