For Brown, triumph after a tragedy Game's star lost infant son two months ago

January 29, 1996|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Even his teammates agreed that nobody deserved some good fortune in his life more than cornerback Larry Brown did last night.

Brown became a Super Bowl MVP the easiest way any player could in Super Bowl XXX.

Quarterback Neil O'Donnell threw two passes right into his arms and he didn't drop them in the Dallas Cowboys' 27-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. The two interceptions led to Cowboys touchdowns.

"I was fortunate to get it," Brown said of the first one. "He threw it to me, and I had to hold onto it."

The second one was a virtual replay of the first one, although Brown said he made a "great break on the ball."

Nobody was going to argue with him. He deserved his day.

That's because he suffered a personal tragedy Nov. 16 when his son, born 14 weeks premature, died at the age of 10 weeks.

Quarterback Troy Aikman said: "We can only imagine what it's like to lose a child like he did. We're happy he had the night he had on the stage he had it on."

Brown said of dealing with the death of his son Kristopher: "I just thank God. He gave me the strength to get through this year. It was tough with the team and the players and the way they supported me through all of the hard times, I've just got to give them credit. I couldn't have done it without them. They enabled ** me to get through this season. This team, in general, has been through a lot this year. I'm happy for Coach [Barry] Switzer, and I'm glad to play for the best organization in professional football."

Brown, who intercepted a career-high six passes during the regular season and ran two back for touchdowns, missed his first start in 13 games in Oakland on Nov. 19 after his son died the previous week. But he played and had three tackles.

"I want to make it very clear the organization didn't put any pressure on me [to play]. My family and I decided it'd be the best if I played, and it worked out for us," he said.

"I felt like I needed to play [in the first game after his son's death]. You've got to learn to move on. I had to get back in uniform and suit up. I didn't want to play. I did consider taking time off, but the organization and the players rallied around me. They helped me through that time in my life. They support me as we continue to move on and get through that tragedy. It stays on your mind," he said.

On being the second defensive back to become a Super Bowl MVP, along with Jake Scott (1973), he said: "It feels great. There's some great guys who have made it. I'm excited to even be a part of those guys."

Another irony is that he wouldn't have even been playing if Kevin Smith hadn't injured his knee in the opener. The Cowboys had planned to have Deion Sanders and Smith as their corners this year, with Brown as the nickel back. But Brown stayed in the lineup when Smith was injured.

"I didn't worry about those things. Whatever role they wanted me to play, I was going to play. When you have three good corners on your team, I think a lot of teams wish they had that problem, where they have three solid corners. I think the Cowboys have a good problem right now with three solid cornerbacks," he said.

Defensive back Scott Case said: "If Kevin Smith had been healthy at the start of the year, he might not be in this position. He probably wouldn't be in this position. He'd be a nickel back. For things to turn out like that for him, it's a godsend really."

Sanders said he thought Brown should have been a Pro Bowl player.

"Larry Brown is unbelieveable. How can a man have six interceptions, two for touchdowns, and play like he's played in the postseason, but he's not in the Pro Bowl?" Sanders said.

Brown, though, will be more than happy to settle for being Super Bowl MVP.

MVPs for defense

Defensive players to be named Super Bowl Most Valuable Player:

Bowl Player, pos., team

XXX Larry Brown, CB, Dallas

XX Richard Dent, DE, Chicago

XII Randy White, DT, Dallas

Harvey Martin, DE, Dallas

VII Jake Scott, S, Miami

V Chuck Howley, LB, Dallas

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