Fifty Years Ago: Roger Brown Brought Lions’ Defensive Line to Life

Detroit Lions fans are giddy, and rightfully so, since the team drafted the number 2 pick overall: 6’4” 307 lb. Nebraska defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh.

And it has been exactly fifty years since the team drafted a great defensive tackle, and that was Maryland State College’s Roger Brown, who at 300 pounds was the largest defensive player in the game in the early 1960s. His teammates have told me (believe it or not) that he was also the fastest player on the Lions in a short sprint.

Brown, along with Alex Karras, Sam Williams, and Darris McCord comprised the famous “Fearsome Foursome” of the 1960s, the most formidable front line in football at the time.

Roger’s greatest season was in 1962 when he set an NFL record by scoring two safeties on legendary quarterbacks Johnny Unitas and Bart Starr. The safety on Starr occurred in the famous 1962 Thanksgiving Day Massacre at Tiger Stadium when the Lion defense smothered the Packers in a 26-14 victory. Brown had six of the 11 sacks that day.

Number 76 was Detroit’s starting right tackle from 1960 through 1966 before being traded to the Rams in 1967 where he would replace Rosey Grier and become a member of L.A.’s Fearsome Foursome along with Merlin Olsen, Deacon Jones, and Lamar Lundy.

Last year Brown was selected to the Lion’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Squad. He lives in Portsmouth, Virginia where he runs his restaurant called Roger Brown’s.

One can only hope that Ndamukong Suh will, like Roger Brown, prove to be a great NFL draft pick and help create a dominant defense.

Roger Brown tackles Green Bay's Bart Starr during the famous Thanksgiving Day Massacre at Tiger Stadium on November 22, 1962.

4 replies on “Fifty Years Ago: Roger Brown Brought Lions’ Defensive Line to Life

  • rory moriarty

    I am the nephew of Roger Brown. I am interesyed in trying to get Uncle roger on the NFL ballot for the Hall Of fame. Any suggestins where to start? i acn also be reched at 239 745 7679. Thank you, any input would be great. Thanks

  • rory moriarty

    yes. I am on a track to getting uncle roger on the ballot. I have already sent a letter to the Halls Senior Committee nominating Uncle Roger

  • kizer

    had it really been fifty years since they drafted a great defensive tackle? Doug English, Jerry Ball and Shaun Rogers were all pretty damned good.

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