Eddie Brown Journey From Vol Star : As a standout punt returner and defensive back for the Tennessee Vols half a century ago, Eddie Brown’s keen peripheral vision earned him an All-American status. “I could almost see behind me. That was God’s gift. I had it and used it,” he reminisced.
Now, looking at life through 50 years of experiences, Brown still likes what he sees. He’s optimistic about the future of the Big Orange football program under the helm of third-year coach Josh Heupel. “Coach Heupel is doing a great job, and he is so welcoming to all of us (former players),” he praised.
Brown, a regular at morning team practices, embodies the welcoming spirit as he attends practices with former Vol player Bill Baker. Despite his star status, Brown, in a recent interview, exuded a typical fan’s enthusiasm.
His scrappy stats speak louder—a UT team captain in 1973, he enjoyed a solid NFL and USFL career, even intercepting a pass for the Los Angeles Rams in Super Bowl XIV in 1980.
Growing up in Marion County, Brown’s father initiated his love for the Vols, attending the now-famous Tennessee-LSU game in 1959. Despite Coach Bear Bryant’s overtures from Alabama, Brown stuck with the Vols, initially signing when Doug Dickey was the coach.
Wearing No. 25, Brown had a stellar career with memorable plays, including a game-saving tackle in the 28-27 UT win against Kansas. His standout moments earned him Sports Illustrated player of the week.
Reflecting on his time at UT, Brown recalls being roommates with Haskel Stanback, a Black teammate, during the early days of interracial teams. The team also featured pioneering SEC Black quarterback Condredge Holloway.
A father figure emerged in NFL coach George Allen, who admired Brown’s style and work ethic. While Brown contemplated coaching and spoke with NFL coaching legends Don Shula and Marv Levy, he ended up working for Jostens, ordering rings for UT’s championship teams.
For Brown, the connection to UT is an unbroken circle since 1959. “Since 1959, I have bled orange,” he shared with heartfelt emotion.