Brown, Eagles, adapting to new head coach

April 14, 1991|By Kevin Mulligan | Kevin Mulligan,Knight-Ridder News Service

PHILADELPHIA -- Buddy Ryan and Jerome Brown were th perfect Philadelphia Eagles match.

They swaggered when they walked.

They raised eyebrows when they talked, and never seemed to care whom they offended along the way.

They pretty much winged it together for four successful years and three short playoff rides.

With the firing of Ryan and the promotion of Rich Kotite to head coach, things have changed, and Brown has begun the chore of trying to change with them.

The All-Pro defensive tackle broke his off-season silence this month in a phone interview from his home in Brooksville, Fla. The highlights included Brown saying:

* He would like to finish his career in Philadelphia, but he isn't worrying about trade rumors.

"Some things you have no control over," he said. "Trade rumors are trade rumors. If it happens, it happens, but right now, I'm working to get in shape, get my weight down, get my shoulder all the way back and be ready to play ball. That's all I can do."

* A 1990 training-camp flare-up in which he had to be restrained from going after Kotite, then the team's offensive coordinator, has been forgotten by both parties. Brown said he apologized for his behavior shortly thereafter and the two have "gotten along fine" since.

"I lost it a little, but a couple days later, I talked to him about it and we kidded about it. He said something like, 'You better be glad someone stepped in between us, pal, or you'd have been in bad shape.' I don't want to start digging that up again. Rich is the kind of guy you can talk to, he got to know us last year, and it's forgotten."

* He plans to report -- if he signs a new contract in the meantime, of course -- to July training camp much lighter than last year's listed weight of 295.

"It'll be different, for me and a lot of the guys," Brown said. "But it's always that way when you change coaches and shake things up.

"If people saw me as the symbol of Buddy's teams, I don't mind that, because we won. Buddy's a winner, always will be. I'm a winner and the Eagles were winners, and we're going to #F continue to win under Rich.

"Do I have to change? Like Rich said, you can't change people's personality. I'm still Jerome. I have fun playing, try to keep things loose, not so serious, but when the time comes, I'm there, you know that.

"I know what you're saying, though. How should I put it? Let's say I know there are things Rich doesn't want and does want that are different than the way Buddy did things. Rich and I have talked. I like what he's about. What's the word . . . Adapt? Adjust? That's what I have to do, and we all have to do."

Brown already has shown Kotite that his words are not just idle talk. A lot less of the 26-year-old lineman reported for last week's three-day minicamp.

"Jerome, I thought, looked real good," Kotite said. "We've stressed conditioning and durability, and it's good to see him working to get himself where he should be. Because that's only going to help us be a better football team."

Though his actual weight is a well-kept secret, Eagles trainer Otho Davis described Brown's recorded weight loss as "considerable."

Brown is participating in a two-pronged, supervised fitness program at a health club in Orlando, Fla. Each morning at 10, Brown and Seattle Seahawks defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy, close friends, report for a 90-minute aerobic and conditioning workout designed to build stamina and trim fat.

At 2:30 p.m., Brown returns for therapy to strengthen his repaired rotator cuff, which was torn in the regular-season finale and reduced him to a one-armed lineman for the playoff loss to Washington. Brown, wanting to avoid a media circus, did not wish to disclose the name of the health club or the personal trainer who oversees his workouts.

Davis said that he receives regular updates from Brown's therapist. "If he doesn't go, I know about it," Davis said.

Brown said that contrary to previous reports, he and Kennedy do not have a nutritionist cooking their meals for them.

"I didn't want to do any interviews up there [minicamp] because I didn't want to make a big thing over it, especially when I wasn't practicing," Brown said. "But I'm not on any fat farm, like some people wrote. I'm just working out with a trainer and stuff, getting my shoulder back to 100 percent. It's not like someone's standing over me or anything. I'm doing a lot of bike riding and cardiovascular exercises that build up my wind and help me lose [weight] at the same time.

"And I'm just watching what I eat, that's all. I'm eating the right food, instead of bad food. All I used to eat was the bad stuff."

Brown said that teammate Mickey Shuler and Davis both have been instrumental in his dedication to improving his condition.

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