78 days to football: Bob Brown


With 78 days left until the start of the NFL season, our countdown to the big day continues. Thursday, Sept. 4, is the day when the Green Bay Packers travel to Seattle to take on the Super Bowl Champion Seahawks.  Over the  course of the next 78 days we focus on the number that represents the days remaining … today its 78.

For an in-depth look at every number and the players who wore them, we highly recommend “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore Them,” by John Maxymuk.

For an in-depth look at every number and the players who wore them, we highly recommend “Packers by the Numbers: Jersey Numbers and the Players Who Wore Them,” by John Maxymuk.

Our last spotlight focused on #79 – a number that prompted our look at Dave Hanner, a man who gave 44 years to the Packers organization as a player, coach and scout.

But today we drop to 78.

Quick, name one player who has worn #78 … You might remember Ross Verba, Allen Barbre or you might even remember the year that Ezra Johnson wore #78 instead of his most noted number of 90.

Bob Brown and Forrest Gregg take the field for the Packers.

Sports Illustrated photograph

Heck, you might even realize that current Packer Derek Sherrod now wears the number – even though his time on the field has been so limited the past three years that you may have forgotten that fact.

The point is that there haven’t been too many outstanding players who have worn the number.

That’s why we have to go back to the mid-1960s to find our focus player today – Bob Brown. 

This is a different Robert Brown than the one you may remember most – you might remember the other Robert Brown who wore #93 for so many years in the 1980s.

Our Bob Brown of focus today was originally drafted by the San Francisco 49ers where he languished for two years and was cut twice. After the first cut, he went to play for the Wheeling Ironmen of the Continental Football League. And, according to a story from the files of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, “That’s where Pat Peppler, former Packer personnel director from 1963-’71, first saw film of Brown.”

After the second cut from the 49ers, Brown went to Canada for a stint with Toronto of the CFL.

According to Maxymuk’s profile on Brown, “The Packers signed him and he made the team in 1966, filling in at both defensive end and defensive tackle. At 6-5, 275 pounds, he was an imposing figure at the time and he would balloon much heavier on occasion.”

Brown was a huge man for the time and in fact had a difficult time keeping his weight off throughout his career. A one point, he was over 300 pounds, but played the bulk of his career at about 280.

Maxymuk wrote more about Brown:

"[Brown’s] best attributes were toughness, quickness and relentlessness. In one game against he Vikings he was struggling with pain in his leg for the whole game. The next day, when the leg was swollen, X-rays were taken and revealed that he had played that game on a broken leg. In the 1972 offseason, Bob was shot in the neck while driving after a dispute over a card game. He went on to play so well in the ensuing season that he went to the Pro Bowl. He played the game all-out. He was known to power straight ahead on every play, ignoring all fakes, and made more than his share of big plays."

Here are Bob Brown’s career statistics:

The following players wore #78 for the Green Bay Packers:

Allen Barbre200720097
Robert Brown1966197333
Louis Cheek199119914
Bill Cooke197519753
Tom Dahms195519550
Jim Hobbins198719871
Gary Hoffman198419840
Ezra Johnson197819787
Norm Masters1957196420
Casey Merrill1979198313
Terdell Sands200320030
Derek Sherrod201120132
Ross Verba1997200025
Carl Wafer197419742