Brown gains renown

Robert Brown shares a moment of levity with teammates. Brown spent some of the past season hurting...

Robert Brown shares a moment of levity with teammates. Brown spent some of the past season hurting inside because of medical problems with his infant son Elijah. (Edmonton Sun/Jason Franson)

JONATHAN HUNTINGTON -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 8:23 AM ET

There are many strange tales in Eskimo history, and this season defensive lineman Robert Brown added one of his own.

He went from an impasse with the Montreal Alouettes to receiving news his football career was back on track while he was travelling in Africa and then through a trying emotional episode with an ailing infant son. It has been a wild emotional ride.

But the ride also produced the best season of his career. With 12 sacks, Brown is the unanimous choice as the Eskimos' defensive player of the year.

"God is good," said the defensive tackle yesterday. "It seriously has nothing to do with me.

"I don't see myself as being a very religious person but I know there is something greater than me.

"All the things that have happened (this year) have been a blessing, whether it be my play, my son's birth and all the traumatic stuff that has gone on."

It was almost one year ago today that Brown told the Alouettes he wasn't coming back in 2006.

He was disgusted with Montreal's defensive system. The scheme called for Brown to plug a hole in the opposing offensive line and put his hands in the air. The nine-year CFL veteran was prepared to leave football in 2006 unless he was traded.

That wish came true. Brown got the news while on a trip to the other side of the world. He got the call over a satellite phone while standing on a desert. He didn't believe it at first.

Somehow it has turned out for the best. In fact, it might have saved his career.

Allowed to rush the quarterback and create havoc in the backfield for the Esks, the 32-year-old import has as many sacks this year as he did in his last three years in Montreal, combined.

"I am really privileged to play this game. I don't have long to play it," he explained.

"When you look at it that way, you can't help but play the best that you can."

Perhaps the most impressive part of the whole odyssey was how he handled the illness of his son. His play didn't skip a beat. That is despite the fact his baby son was in hospital for two weeks under observation with a twisted stomach.

He showed up for every game and nearly every practice, never complaining about the pain in his life.

"I had to believe there was a higher power in dealing with it," he said.

And the organization is grateful.

Defensive line coach Dennis Winston said Brown has been an inspiration.

With Brown's son Elijah now healthy, the most important question is football related. Will the Eskimos be able to keep Brown in the fold for 2007?

He becomes a free agent in February.

Ranked third in the CFL in sacks, he could command a big dollar in the market.


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