ALAMEDA (CBS SF) — Former Oakland Raiders great and NFL Hall of Famer Willie Brown, whose interception and touchdown run in Super Bowl XI became one of the team’s iconic moments, has died. He was 78.
No other information on his death was immediately known.
The Raiders released a statement mourning the loss of the Silver and Black legend.
“Willie Brown will forever be cherished as a true Raider. He exemplified the Raider spirit…,” the statement read. “He remained an integral part of the organization through six decades. His legendary performance on the field changed the way the cornerback position was played and his valued guidance as a coach, mentor and administrator permeated the organization and touched countless individuals both on and off the field.”
“Willie’s loss will leave a tremendous void, but his leadership and presence will always be a major part of the fabric of the Raiders Family,” the statement continued.
Willie Brown will forever be cherished as a true Raider.
— Oakland Raiders (@Raiders) October 22, 2019
Raiders quarterback Derek Carr tweeted he will also remember when Brown called his name at the NFL Draft.
Man… going to miss you Willie! I’ll never forget when you called my name on that stage to welcome me into the Raider family 4 life! Prayers to his family. https://t.co/nqgAuuJD1G
— Derek Carr (@derekcarrqb) October 22, 2019
During his illustrious 15-year career with the Denver Broncos and the Raiders, Brown was a member of three winning Super Bowl teams and was named to four Pro Bowl.
He was considered one of the father’s of the ‘bump-and-run’ pass coverage style and authored one of the team’s iconic moments when he intercepted a Minnesota Viking quarterback Fran Tarkenton’s pass in the Super Bowl and raced 75 yards for a touchdown.
The play prompted famed Raiders announce Bill King’s call — “He looks and throws … intercepted by the Oakland Raiders Willie Brown at the 30, 40, 50 … he’s going all the way! … Old Man Willie! … Touchdown Raiders!”
Brown was acquired by late Raiders owner Al Davis in 1967 after spending four seasons in Denver. Of his 54 career interceptions, 39 came with Oakland as he was a mainstay on the defensive unit. After retiring, he served as an assistant coach for the Raiders from 1979 through 1988.
Since 1995, Brown has worked for the Raiders organization, making community appearances and representing the organization at a variety of public functions including the NFL Draft.
He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1984.
“The entire Hall of Fame family mourns the loss of a great man,” said Pro Football Hall of Fame President David Baker in a news release. “Willie Brown was the epitome of the Raiders’ motto of ‘commitment to excellence’ that was integral to the team’s sustained success. He embodied virtues like passion, integrity, perseverance and always led by example. His character, on and off the field, made all those around him better. His legacy will be preserved forever in Canton, Ohio to inspire generations of fans.”
Brown played college football at Grambling State University, but was not drafted by any professional team after leaving school in 1963. He signed with the Houston Oilers of the American Football Conference, was cut and then signed with Denver.