Taking care of mother hits home for O. Brown

Now back with Ravens, he's expected to play in opener against old team

Pro football

September 06, 2004|By Brent Jones | Brent Jones,SUN STAFF

Orlando Brown, always the straight shooter, needed little time to rattle off the names of people he can trust unconditionally.

"She really is the only one," the Ravens' right tackle said of his ailing mother, Catherine. "But this is where you become a man. You've got to take care of your mother and your father. She is older, at 75, and has had a good life."

Brown's mother was hospitalized twice since the Ravens started training camp, as her failing health left her in a semi-coma. Brown missed three of four preseason games to tend to her, including the finale against the New York Giants last week, when her condition took a turn for the worse.

As the Ravens prepare to face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday, the team is expected to have Brown back in the lineup, a much-needed return considering that left tackle Jonathan Ogden's status is uncertain after a sprained knee forced him out of the Giants' game.

With his knee still sore and a grueling week of rehabilitation ahead of him, Ogden said he does not feel sorry for himself as he tries to get ready to play against Cleveland.

Instead, Ogden's sympathy extends to a player on the Browns that he suspects will be in more pain during the game than anything his knee is putting him through - the player who lines up opposite Orlando Brown, presumably Courtney Brown.

"I feel sorry for the poor [guy] he will play against Sunday because he's just going to be that much more Zeus [Brown's nickname]," Ogden said. "I give him a lot of credit because he's back here working. He's going to be focused."

The Ravens have allowed Brown as much time as he wants to spend with his mother, but Brown said he is ready to return to the team full time and play out the season for her.

"Obviously, he's still having to deal with it, as all of these guys do," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "I don't know that people fully appreciate what these guys do, like everybody else does. We all have jobs, and we have to deal with those jobs even though in our personal circumstances, we may be hurting. I don't know that the regular fan or John Q. Public appreciates that these guys have that, too."

For Brown, his mother's condition has overshadowed what will be his return to the site where he had his previous biggest hardship.

Brown, while playing for the Browns, was struck in the eye by a referee's flag in December 1999 and was forced out of football for three seasons.

The flag incident sparked a chain of events in which Brown was suspended by the league (for pushing the referee to the ground after the flag hit him), sued the league and received a huge out-of-court settlement, then was ultimately reinstated and allowed to sign a contract with the Ravens. Brown also had to battle years of pain and altered vision in the eye.

He returned to Cleveland when the Ravens played the Browns last year, helping Jamal Lewis rush for 205 yards in a 35-0 victory.

"Yeah, this is worse than the flag," Brown said.

"I got my eyesight back. I'm not going to get my mama back," he said, alluding to expectations her condition will worsen.

Brown's father is blind, leaving the responsibility to care for Catherine Brown to their children. The player has a sister who also lives in the area. Brown's parents make their home in Washington.

Brown says he will not play this year in any more of a foul mood than he usually is in during games, something the Ravens can only hope to be true. When Brown lost his cool last year in the playoffs against the Tennessee Titans, he was hit with two unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties.

He maintains he has learned from those mistakes and plans to channel the emotions of the past month to help the team.

"I'm ready to play," Brown said. "I know my mother is in God's hands. And I got faith. Mentally, yeah, it messes with you sometimes. I don't want to get too mad, and I don't want to get too sad. But I'm going to play this season for her."

Next for Ravens

Matchup: Ravens vs. Cleveland Browns in regular-season opener

Site: Cleveland Browns Stadium

When: Sunday, 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (102.7 FM)

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