Brown: I just did my job

Gilbert Brown — aka ‘The Gravedigger' — is inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame for simply doing the dirty work.

Gilbert Brown and Santana Dotson were dressed to the nines. They called each other Mr. Brown and Mr. Dotson.

It spoke of the seriousness of the occasion: Dotson presenting Brown for induction into the Packers Hall of Fame.

"I have the privilege and honor of presenting my compadre, Mr. Brown, who personifies the image of what the Packers stand for on and off the field," Dotson told reporters Saturday afternoon, about three hours before the induction ceremony. "His commitment, diligence and passion for the game are unlike any other person I had the privilege of playing with."

Brown admitted he was nervous — "I want to hurry up and get off this podium," he said — and joked that "somebody messed up letting me get in (to the Hall of Fame)."

"This is a great honor for me," Brown said, "because in this game of football, a lot of guys get certain accolades. This here is something that I'm still in wow of because all I did was my job.

His job entailed taking on two and three offensive linemen so the linebackers could look like stars. He did it better than practically everyone in the NFL during the prime of his career. While Brett Favre was the league's MVP en route to victory in Super Bowl XXXI, Brown was a lynchpin of the NFL's top-ranked defense.

"(Defensive coordinator Fritz Shurmur) told me to go out there and make the linebackers look good. That's what I did. Kept them clean. Sometimes I think, with the defensive line we had, Mickey Mouse could have been All-Pro. We kept our linebackers clean. That's what I prided myself on, trying to take two, trying to take five."

Brown was part of one of the finest defensive lines in NFL history, with Dotson joining Brown as the tackles and Reggie White and Sean Jones manning the ends.

"There was a saying in the locker room that Fritz started that we had three oak trees and one stump. I was the stump," Brown recalled. "Here I am, 6-2 1/2. We was all in the parking lot laughing and joking, and we was missing the big guy, Mr. White. It was fun to just sit back and we look at each other and, man, there was an offensive line that ever tried to block us. It was great to just reflect back on that."

Dotson took a timeout from the serious talk to tell a story with Brown as the punchline.

Dotson recalled the Packers holding "team camaraderie nights" on Thursdays. Because weigh-ins were Friday, the bulky Brown didn't attend the first few. But with a Monday game on the schedule, weigh-ins were moved to Saturday.

"Everybody knows, boys will be boys and we're having a good time," Dotson recalled, as Brown paced in the corner with a pained look on his face. "We're ordering a couple rounds of shots and we're extra festive because the big ‘Gravedigger' is finally going to come out with us. He steps up to the bar and he's like, ‘Oh, yeah! My time to order a round! I need 20 shots ... of butterball.' It's a little egg nog shot. The biggest, strongest guy on the football field, and he's ordering butterball shots.

"He played like a grizzly on the field," Dotson continued, "but off the field, he had the biggest heart. From Tickle Me Elmo slippers to strawberry milk and cookies before curfew."

It was a light-hearted moment during an event that Brown clearly took seriously.

"I put my body on the line for this team," he said. "I walked down the hall with all of them banners and stuff, and my knees were shaking. Hair on the back of my neck was standing up."

Bill Huber writes for Packer Report. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com


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