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

games.

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

a suspension.

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

loss.”

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

Brown.

”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

Cleveland.

”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.