Posted by Michael David Smith on September 23, 2011, 3:37 PM EDT
The news that former Ravens and Browns tackle Orlando Brown has died at the age of 40 hit many of his former teammates and coaches hard today, and Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis eloquently explained what Brown meant to him.
“I just saw him a few days ago,” Lewis said today, in comments distributed by the Ravens. “He’s one of the greatest men I know – really a gentle giant away from the game. He was the original Raven. He set the tone for how we were going to play tough and physical, backing down from no opponent. When you heard his voice on the field, you knew things were going to be all right. He would say: ‘Keep playing. Keep fighting. Do it for us. Do it for your teammates. Lew, Lew, keep it up!’ I can almost hear that voice right now. And, oh, how he loved his sons. They lost a great father. So sad, just so sad.”
Brown had spent some time mentoring Ravens tackle Ramon Harewood, who said, “I am at a loss right now. When I think of Zeus, I just have to smile. He was always there to pick you up on a bad day and always had a smile on his face. He was a gentle giant and always seemed to be able to put anyone around him in a good mood.”
Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who signed Brown as an undrafted rookie in Cleveland in 1993, released a statement saying, “Orlando improved as a player as much as anyone I have ever seen, as he went from being a defensive lineman at South Carolina State to becoming one of the game’s top offensive tackles.”
Said Ravens safety Ed Reed, “Sadness, this is a sad day. Zeus was a fire-starter. His energy – he would get us going at practices, in training camp and games. How he loved to play football.”