Released from losing situation

Lomas Brown: After 15 mostly forgettable seasons and getting cut, the offensive tackle wins with the Giants.

Giants Rush Offense Vs. Ravens Rush Defense

Super Bowl Xxxv

January 23, 2001|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

TAMPA, Fla. - New York Giants offensive tackle Lomas Brown knew what former Cleveland Browns coach Chris Palmer was going to say, leaving him in no mood for idle chitchat.

It was about 10 months ago when Brown heard from a reporter Cleveland was going to release him. Brown did not officially hear the news from Palmer until the next day in a conversation he describes as short-lived.

"When Palmer called me, I wasn't even shocked," said Brown, 37. "Our conversation lasted about 40 seconds on the phone. I didn't have nothing to say. What was I supposed to say?

"All I said was `OK,' and hung up. He wanted to know where I was going to be at. I was like, `Why you want to know where I'm going to be at? You're not bringing me back.' "

Getting cut by an expansion team would make one rather terse. It also made Brown wonder if he could still play in the league.

"It was the first time in my life I questioned my ability," Brown said.

Apparently, Giants coach Jim Fassel had little doubt. Fassel, who was Brown's offensive coordinator for a season in Arizona, called two days after Brown's release, then signed him to a contract shortly thereafter.

All Brown has done for Fassel is start every game this season at left tackle, and, at times, masterfully protect quarterback Kerry Collins' blind side.

Now, after spending 11 years in Detroit, three in Arizona and one in Cleveland, Brown is rewarded with his first Super Bowl appearance. To make things even better for Brown, the game is in his home state and about two hours from where he played in college at the University of Florida.

Through all his professional years, Brown has been on some bad teams in Arizona and Cleveland and on some decent teams in Detroit. Brown's previous best season ended in a 41-10 Lions loss to the Washington Redskins in the NFC championship game.

Before signing with the Giants, it looked like Brown would be linked with players such as Minnesota's Cris Carter and Oakland's Tim Brown - players with great careers but no Super Bowl title.

"After last year in Cleveland, I really thought this day would never come, simply from the standpoint that they released me," said Brown, who was drafted in the first round by the Lions in 1985. "At that point, I really didn't know what I was going to do. Then, Coach Fassel called me and wanted me to come in for a visit. I kind of hesitated about coming in because I was devastated after Cleveland.

"I was so happy that I came here. Once I saw the organization, the players and met the head people, it turned out to be the best move I've ever made."

It was also one of the best decisions the Giants made last off-season. Brown played a spectacular game against Pro Bowl defensive end Hugh Douglas in the Giants' opening playoff game against the Philadelphia Eagles. Douglas, one of the fastest and nastiest ends in football, did not record a sack or a tackle.

Brown followed that up the next week against Minnesota with an effort that still has his coach gushing. The score was Giants 34, Vikings 0, and Brown refused to come out of the game.

"Last week, he was hurting," Fassel said. "Here's a guy that has played in the league [16] years, wanting to play in a game that's done.

"I've used this phrase more than once with [Brown] when I've wanted him to do something. I've said, `Do you trust me?' And he would say, `Yeah.' Then I would say, `Then do what I want.'

"When we were at that point in the game, up by so much, I said, `Lomas it doesn't make any sense [for you to play].' He looked at me and said, `Coach, do you trust me?' I said, `Yeah, I do, get back in the ballgame, but you're coming out pretty quick.' "

Such an attitude, mixed in with his league staying power, has made Brown one of the team's leaders.

"He's been wonderful," guard Glenn Parker said. "He's an amazing person - always in a great mood and good spirit. He's a real genuine person, and I think everybody enjoys being around Lomas.

"The guy has a great physique. He could probably play five more years with the body he has."

Actually, Brown's goal is for four more. He thanked the Browns for making it possible.

"For me, my motivating cry after I get my Super Bowl ring is to get to 20 years with a couple of more rings on my fingers," Brown said.

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