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Know Your KU History: Gilbert Brown

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Gilbert Brown had a productive career at Kansas and a fine pro career in Green Bay with the Packers.

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For a guy that had to be convinced to play football in high school, his career turned out pretty well. Because of his size, you would have thought that Gilbert would have been playing football since he was a little boy, but that was not the case. Brown had to be asked to play by his brother, and it turned out to be some pretty good advice. At Mackenzie High School, Brown excelled, racking up 189 tackles and taking All-Metro Detroit honors over the course of his prep career.

He chose to come to Kansas despite offers from Michigan, Michigan State, and UCLA, and was a key player in getting the program turned around. His college career ended on a high note as the Jayhawks won the 1992 Aloha Bowl against BYU. KU finished the season 8-4 and took home its first bowl victory in 21 years.

Gilbert Brown was drafted in the third round by the Minnesota Vikings in the 1993 NFL Draft, but he never played a snap for the Vikings. Instead, he was cut because of his ballooning weight. The defensive lineman had expanded to over 350 pounds and was not seen as capable by the Vikings. The Green Bay Packers decided to take a flyer on Brown, and his career flourished in Green Bay.

He played 10 seasons in the NFL with the Packers and won a Super Bowl in 1996. He’s truly a man who loves tradition. He gave up millions of dollars in free agency to stay with the Packers. In 2008, he was elected into the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame, and in that speech he outlined his love for the Packers explaining that "he couldn’t imagine playing with any other logo on the side of his helmet" and that "he gets chills walking through the halls of Lambeau field." That’s the kind of guy that anyone can love and unsurprisingly, Brown was a fan favorite in Wisconsin.

Having played defensive tackle (Left tackle, right tackle, and nose tackle) for the entirety of his career, his statistics do not blow you away, but his impact was not hard to question. According to Brown, his job was to "keep the linebackers clean" and if that meant taking on three or more players at a time, he would do it. The Packers led the NFL in total defense in that championship season. Gilbert did his job and he did his job well.

After his career ended, Brown has tried his hand at a variety of coaching positions in all levels of amateur and semi-pro football. Perhaps the pinnacle of his coaching career came when he coached the Green Bay Chill of the Lingerie Football league.

Now, Brown heads an organization whose mission statement reads : "The Gilbert Brown Foundation’s mission is service youth in an environment that promotes structure and life skills awareness, by introducing team building skills and promoting diversity in the community."

He’s a big guy with a big heart.