There’s a long-held belief that legendary Raiders receiver Tim Brown will be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
When, however, is anybody’s guess.
There was optimism that it would be quick within his first few years. Didn’t happen. Then a logjam at receiver was the excuse, with extremely-qualified, extremely-popular candidates higher in the priority list.
The disappointments kept piling up, even with the widespread understanding that he deserves a gold jacket. Brown shares that opinion. Raider Nation certainly does. His numbers speak so loudly and clearly -- 1,094 receptions, 14,934 receiving yards, 100 receiving touchdowns -- that they should not be tuned out by anyone.
Yet, here Brown is on the sixth go-round, keeping his fingers crossed. Maybe this will be the time a “gut-wrenching process” finds a merciful end. He and Indianapolis’ Marvin Harrison are the only receivers on the final ballot, and Brown has stats and seniority on the Colts star. Will that be enough? We’ll know on Jan. 31.
“I really think, not that this is my best shot, but now that I’m the veteran guy in the receiving group, I’m hoping that I will get a little bit more favor this time when it comes to this deal,” Brown said Thursday in a conference call. “We’ll see what happens.”
The Hall of Fame inducts a maximum of five per year, and there’s no guarantee a receiver makes it in a stacked group of 15 finalists. Chargers linebacker Junior Seau seems to be a sure thing. There will be competition for the other spots.
Over-analyzing the possibility will drive Brown nuts. He’s gone down that road before, but as calloused to it and the well-intentioned. Hearing he’s a surefire Hall-of-Famer, that it’s less a matter of if than when, doesn’t lessen dilute this annual stress.
“If I had a dollar for every time somebody said, ‘Oh you’re definitely going to get in, it’s just a matter of time,’” Brown said. “If I had a dollar every time I can recount it. I said to someone the other day, the process can get so difficult that you almost wish they could tell you that this is going to be your year, and whatever that day is, you just prepare for that. Going through this process is very, very tough. I can deal with it. I’m used to the tough questions and the tough defeats and big wins. The people around me have no idea how to deal with this stuff. It’s amazing that I have to talk other people off the ledge and not myself.”
Brown hasn’t done pre-vote press, including team-arranged interviews, in recent years. He answered Thursday's questions well, from issues playing with lackluster quarterbacks to whether his special teams efforts are overlooked. And, of course, the long wait always comes up.
The stressful time taken won’t make election sweeter. While Brown relishes his induction day, he still thinks of those who won’t be present when he does get a bust in Canton, Ohio, those who were with us when this process began.
“One of the things that people say to you all the time is, ‘Hey, once you get in, it’s going to be great, whatever, whatever,’” Brown said. “In the five years, now six years that I’ve been up, I’ve lost my dad in that time, lost a great friend in Chester McGlockton, who was my best friend in the world, and (Raiders owner) Mr. (Al) Davis has passed away. Those are three people that I won’t get an opportunity to shake their hand and get a congratulations from them. Or Chester hitting me in the back of the head saying, ‘Boy, I can’t believe they put your sorry butt in the Hall of Fame.’ Those are things that I don’t get the opportunity to enjoy. So from that standpoint, you can’t get those moments back. Will it be sweeter than it would have been? Absolutely not. I’ve said that since the day I lost those guys that not having those guys around, it’s going to make this process – even once you get in – it’s going to make it bittersweet.”