Following the passing of Willie Brown, tributes from across the NFL poured in for the Hall of Fame defensive back.
From the Hall of Fame itself, to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Brown was on the receiving end – deservedly so – of countless tributes, but none were more emotional than one from a fellow No. 24, Charles Woodson.
In a well-crafted, thoughtful, six-minute video, Woodson touched on a variety of subjects regarding Brown, ultimately saying goodbye to his old friend.
Here are the best bytes from his time in front of the camera.
When Woodson arrived in Oakland as a talented rookie, he had two jersey numbers to choose from, and the number he choose connected him and Brown for the rest of their lives.
“I got to Oakland in 1998 and I knew the Oakland Raiders, of course, but I didn’t know a whole lot about the old school Raiders. I knew names like Tim Brown, and Bo Jackson, but I didn’t know a whole lot about the guys like Willie Brown. And when I got there, there were two numbers I could choose from, 24, or maybe like, 39, something like that, and I wasn’t wearing no 39, so 24 was available, and I remember Brown – nobody wanted me to put 24 on more than Willie Brown. He said, ‘hey, listen, man, you’re going to put this 24 on, and you’re going to be great.’ Y’all know how Willie Brown talks. And it wasn’t until then that I truly learned about being an Oakland Raider, and about who Willie Brown was, and what he meant to Raider Nation, and how much he loved the Oakland Raiders. Nobody, and I mean, nobody, loved the Oakland Raiders more than Willie Brown. I promise you that.”
And throughout his career – and both stints as a Raider – Brown never stopped coaching Charles, even when the younger 24 wasn’t too keen on taking it.
“He always pushed me, always wished me well, wanted the best for me. I remember being at practice a lot of times, and there would special teams [periods] or something, and here comes Willie Brown, ‘c’mon, Charles, c’mon over here, let’s get some work in.’
‘C’mon, Brown, I’m relaxing right now, man, I’m watching practice.’
‘No, no, come on, let’s go work on your footwork, work on some backpedaling or something. Give me your backpedal, stay low, break.’
The next day comes, ‘c’mon Charles, let’s go.’
‘Brown, come on, man.’
‘No, no, come on, let’s go work on your press man. You got to get better’
After practice, ‘c’mon, Charles, let’s work on your deep ball. You ain’t got nowhere to go.’
That’s what Willie Brown was all about.
And while Woodson was clearly upset about the passing of his good friend, he ended his goodbye message sharing a story about the lighter side of Willie Brown.
“Just to leave it on a lighter note, I’m going to leave you with a little joke that Brown used to tell at the end of every practice to signify that practice was about to be over. He would say, ‘Charles, you know what the man said to the monkey after he cut his tail off?’
And I used to go along with it every time because it was so funny to me. I’d say, ‘what, Brown?’
‘It won’t be long now.’
Yeah, man, that was Brown, man. Me and him, we always used to go back and forth about who was the real 24. Well, make no mistake, Brown, you were the real 24, and the original 24. We love you, and we’re going to miss you.”
Willie Brown will forever be cherished as a true Raider. He was an integral part of the organization through six decades. His leadership and presence will always be a major part of the fabric of the Raiders Family.