The Oakland Raiders have not made an official roster move, which will likely be done Thursday, but owner Al Davis and Brown clearly stated their intentions at a press conference Wednesday at the Napa Valley Marriott.
Unwilling to accept a reduced role on the team, Brown and Davis agreed to part ways. The former was the last member of the Los Angeles Raiders. Brown holds virtually every team receiving record and his 240 games played are a franchise record.
"Days like today are not happy ones," Davis said. "They're emotional but they are inspirational. The fellow who sits on my right has been with us for approximately 16 years and is one of the truly great players who have every played in the National Football League and one of the truly great players who played for the raiders. He played in Los Angeles. He played in Oakland. In both places, he embellished what I like to call the greatness of the Raiders. He always held up the tradition, the history and all of our old time players always knew that he was symptomatic of what I still call the greatness of the Raiders."
Brown won the Heisman Trophy at Notre Dame before the Raiders drafted him in 1988. He soon established himself as an elite receiver, appearing in nine Pro Bowls and going nine straight seasons with at least 1,000 yards receiving from 1993-2001.
Brown had 52 catches for 567 yards and two touchdowns last season, but his streak of 175 starts ended in December. He fell out of favor with former coach Bill Callahan, and also didn't fit into the plans of new coach Norv Turner. Jerry Porter and 41-year-old Jerry Rice will be the Raiders' top receivers this season, and Turner expects big things from Ronald Curry and Alvis Whitted along with Doug Gabriel, Carols Francis and Johnnie Morant.
Brown added that he would not have taken issue with being a No. 3 receiver but was not receptive to being the No. 4 or 5 man, which means he might not suit up at times.
"I won't say literally have given my heart and soul to the this organization," Brown said. "Certainly, I have fought the battle as much as I could on the field. I tried to restore the image off the field if that's possible. Me coming here, being a Notre Dame guy, everybody said I didn't fit in as the typical raider. I have thoroughly enjoyed my career here. Mr. D and I haven't always seen eye-to-eye but we've always had great respect for each other and just by the organization doing things like this, gives me the same feelings that he has respect for what I've done. As far as I'm concerned this is a pause button, not a stop button. This is not the end of my relationship with the Raider organization."
Brown plans to spend a few days with his family in the Bay Area before flying home to Dallas and pondering the next stage of his career.