Q&A with Willie Brown

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Jonathan Brown: When you went undrafted out of Grambling, did you think your career was over before it began?

Willie Brown: Well I didn't even think I had a career because my concern wasn't and had no interest in playing pro football. I wanted to get my degree and go back and coach in high school. So my focus was on that rather than try to think about playing pro ball.

Ronnie Alford: How do you think DHB [Darrius Heyward-Bey] has matured as a pro wide receiver?

Willie Brown: I think he's really coming along now. Last year was probably one of his better seasons of course, I mean he doesn't have many years in the league, but I thought he did quite well last year.

Dan Hackett: Here's a legitimate question: What was it like having Al Davis as a boss and do you think he left a positive impact on not only the Raiders organization but the NFL as a whole?

Willie Brown: I think as a whole, he definitely left an impact on the whole league. With the Raiders organization, there's a void there because he's not there calling the shots like he used to call. We're filling in. We're trying to do his legacy the way it should be done, keep it up, and have the best players, the best coaches, and the best front office people. So I think we'll do fine.

Nathan Bradford: What do you think of the 2012 Draft class?

Willie Brown: I think the class is a good class considering where we were drafting players from. The first pick was the last pick in the 3rd round. So hopefully these guys will come in and fill the spots that we need in certain positions and contribute and make a contribution to the success of the Raiders.

Daniel Navarro: If you could work with any current cornerback in the NFL, who would it be? And why?

Willie Brown: Probably [Nnamdi]  Asomugha. Charles Woodson of course, was there. But those two are the best in the game and I think [Darrelle] Revis is good. One guy in particular, I had my turn with both of those guys, Charles and Nnamdi and I enjoyed coaching those guys.

Doug Jones: What is your opinion on the current focus of player safety in regards to how the game is played today?

Willie Brown: Football is a game that is rough and tough and people are going to get hurt. You hope they don't end their career when they get hurt, but that's part of the game itself by playing so long, for years, you're going to have aches and bruises and all that kind of thing. The safety part of it, that's something that should be done and we are trying to, the league is trying to, prevent a lot of injuries and protect the guys as much as they possibly can, but football is tough and that's the way it should be played.

Juan Diaz: Who is one Raider that should be in the Hall of Fame that hasn't been voted in yet?

Willie Brown: That's tough because there are several guys that should be in with the Raiders – Tom Flores, of course, should be in there as a coach, Kenny Stabler, Cliff Branch, Lester Hayes, and in my opinion, all those guys should be in the Hall of Fame. One time they were trying to cut us back and they didn't want so many of the Raiders going in so often so we thought they were being a little prejudiced towards the Raiders in terms of how they selected the players.

Jimmy Tristan: How old were you when you first laid hands on a football? Who was your biggest inspiration as a kid?

Willie Brown: Probably when I was eight or nine years old is when I first started playing football. I was in the third grade when I first started contact football. But the biggest impact was my head football coach in high school. He had the biggest impact in my life. I wanted to walk like him, I wanted to talk like him, I wanted to be like him, all those kind of things, so he was a big influence in my life growing up.

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