Ten Minutes with Gator Great Lomas Brown

Every so often, when he needs a little reminder that all the pain, sacrifice and hard work of an 18-year pro football career were worth it, Lomas Brown takes a look at his finger where he sees that great big Super Bowl ring that he won as a member of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It's at that precise moment that he knows that everything he did had a price but the price was worth it.

"You pay a price for all the years you spend in the league," said Lomas, the greatest offensive lineman in the history of the University of Florida. "The ring makes me see why I spent 18 years in the league and what it was all about, and I can honestly say, it was worth working out in the heat every spring and summer, every cut, every lump, every bruise and every hour I spent in the tub soaking."

When he soaks in the tub these days, it's because he wants to, not because he's working through the pain of another football game. He's retired, living in Detroit and managing a couple of careers now. He's got a growing aluminum alloy business with a couple of partners, plus he's discovering that he enjoys the radio and television work he does with the Detroit Lions.

He always knew there would be life after football, so when he finally called it a career, he had a plan for the transition. It's about the transition he's making back to the civilian world that allows us to bring you ten minutes with Lomas Brown:


For that I can thank Frank Battaglia. He was like a second father to me. He took me under his wings when I was still in high school at Miami Springs. He was a driver's ed teacher. We developed a friendship that went far beyond athletics. Coming from Miami and not being privileged, there was so much out there that I didn't know, and he started getting me ready for life away from football back then. He knew I had to be prepared so he taught me things. I know it sounds silly, but I hadn't been anywhere so I didn't know things like the place settings … which knife you use, which fork you use, how to order in a restaurant, how to tie a tie and how to be mannerly and respectful in different settings. He taught me about the things that would be ahead of me, the pitfalls of college like not knowing how to budget your time and how to study the right way. We dealt with every scenario, then we did the pro scenario, too. Frank Battaglia almost provided me a map for life and basically, all I had to do was follow that map.


I made sure that I was ready long before it (the career) was over. You see so many things happen to so many other players and if you're smart, you make sure you're prepared for the next step. You pay attention to who's successful once they leave the NFL, and you also pay attention to the guys who aren't. You try to learn from both of them, then you make sure you have yourself prepared for the next step. The biggest adjustments that guys have to make is suddenly they don't have anyone telling them what to do and when to do it. They don't have that structure to their lives and they can't handle it. The divorce rate among ex-NFL guys is 73%, even higher once they retire. So much goes into pro sports that fans don't get a chance to see. There's a lot of baggage that goes along with playing in a professional sport, and if you're not prepared, that baggage will eat you up while you're playing. It's even worse when you quit if you aren't ready.


Basically I'm still treading the water to see what I want to do and how far I want to go with it. I'm doing television and radio work with the Lions. It's fun, but I'm learning something new every week. It's enough of a challenge that I want to keep on doing it at least until I can really make a decision if this is what I want to do for a long time. At some point, I'll make that decision. Right now, though, it's something that's new and it's fun for me. I've talked to some people about sports talk radio, too. I'm investigating that, and who knows? Maybe there's something in it that would work well for me.


The most hurting and worst feeling in the world you can have is to walk off that field after you lose the Super Bowl. You work all your life just to get this chance to play for something that validates all you've done all your life. You put your whole life into something and to win it means you're the best in the world at what you do, but to lose… oh man, I can't even describe it to you. I got to my first Super Bowl with the Giants in year 16 for me being in the league, so when we lost that game, I couldn't conceive that I might have many more opportunities. I know how bad I felt walking off that field. Imagine Glen Parker. We walked off the field together and he'd lost FIVE times, four with Buffalo and once with the Giants.


If my lowest point was when we lost with the Giants, my highest point was when we won with the Buccaneers two years later. I wasn't sure I'd get a second chance, then I got the call from Tampa Bay and got to be part of a Super Bowl championship. I didn't think I'd ever get to win one, then I was on that team and that was like the crown jewel on my career. It was the ultimate because I didn't get to win a championship in pop warner, high school or in college at Florida. In the NFL you don't know how long your career will last. One play and it could be over with, just like that. So when you get to win a championship, you look back on what you've done, realizing how many times that one play and you could have been gone and never would have gotten this chance. That's when you realize why it is that everyone plays so hard for it, why everyone thinks it puts the stamp on your career.

ON PLAYING FOR JON "CHUCKY" GRUDEN: I know it's hard for people to believe, but what you see on the sideline, that's Chucky 24/7. The same intensity you see on the sideline is same Monday through Sunday no matter what time of the day you see him. None of his meetings are ever boring. It's like he's on caffeine all the time,, but he's also one of the smartest coaches I've ever been around, and probably one of the smartest head coaches you'll ever find anywhere. He's just so consumed with football. He came up to me and said, 'Lomas, you guys are really my friends.' I said you go home at midnight and you're back here at three, you don't have time for any friends except us.


After watching Chucky, I don't know if I would want to put in those kind of hours that a coach has to. He offered me a job coaching at Tampa Bay and I thought seriously about it, but at least now, not at this point in life, am I ready to invest that kind of time.


Everything I've heard about him is positive. I live up here in Detroit, but I follow the Gators. He's our guy now and I'm 100 percent behind him. We've got some great players for him to coach next year. I'm excited thinking about what the Gators are going to do.

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