Brown was honored by the franchise as a member of their 2018 Pride of the Lions class along with former teammate Alex Karras and Herman Moore.
Brown, a six-time Pro Bowler, played seven seasons with the Lions in 1960-66, and was part of the team’s original Fearsome Foursome along with Karras, Darris McCord and Sam Williams.
“Roger Brown will always hold a special place in our team’s history,” Lions owner Sheila Ford Hamp said in a statement. “Roger’s career accomplishments solidify his legacy alongside some of the all-time greats of our game. I am happy we were able to induct Roger into the Pride of the Lions in 2018 to ensure that his contributions to the Lions will never be forgotten.”
Brown said in 2018 he hoped to make the Pro Football Hall of Fame one day.
“I have always felt the main thing, I stay vertical, keep alive, it’ll happen,” Brown said. “And the thing that I’m waiting for now is Canton, Ohio. The (Pro Football) Hall of Fame. One of the original Fearsome Foursome should be in that hall. Alex or me or Darris or Sam, and I hope I can make it. I guarantee I’m going to stay vertical until they call me and say, ‘Come on in,’ and I’ll be ready.”
Brown, who said he cried when Lions president Rod Wood called him that summer to tell him he was going into the Pride of the Lions, said his chances of reaching Canton are “one out of a hundred.”
Because Brown has been out of football more than 20 years, he’d have to be picked by the Hall of Fame’s veterans committee.
A native of Surry County, Virginia, Brown was selected by the Lions in the fourth round, No. 42 overall, in the 1960 NFL draft out of Maryland State College (now Maryland Eastern Shore).
An intimidating 6 feet 5 and 300 pounds, Brown was named First-Team All-Pro in 1962 and 1963, and made the Pro Bowl from 1962-67. He played three seasons with the Los Angeles Rams (1967-69), retiring at 32 years old. He is credited with 78 career sacks, 15 fumbles recovered and two interceptions in 10 seasons. He had four double-digit sack seasons, all in Detroit, with a career-best 14½ in 1964.
An iron man, Brown played 140 career games, including two in the postseason with the Rams, never missing an NFL game.
He was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2009. The Hawks held opponents to 7.3 points per game over his four-year career, and he was twice named an NAIA All-American in 1958-59. The Hawks went 24-5-1 during his career, and outscored opponents 693-213.
Last year, Brown spoke to the Free Press as COVID-19 swept the country. He worked to keep his three restaurants afloat in Virginia, chatting up customers and adding ambiance to Roger Brown’s in Portsmouth, which he opened 20 years ago and spent most of his time. His other two establishments are Cove Tavern in Newport News and MoMac Brewing Company in Portsmouth.
“Whoever came up with this damn coronavirus and then passed it on to America, I want to put him on the line right across from me,” he said in May of 2020. “And I guarantee you, you’ll never see him again.”
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