Minnesota Vikings Legend Bill Brown Dies At 80

Minnesota Vikings mascot spreads his arms wide.
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The Minnesota Vikings organization, its fans, and the greater American football community are all mourning the loss of legendary fullback Bill Brown, who has passed away over the weekend, as the National Post reports.

The thousands in attendance at U.S. Bank Stadium to watch the Vikings defeat the Lions by a score of 24-9 stood for a humbling moment prior to Week 9’s action, as they observed a collective moment of silence for Brown. NBC Sports reports that the beloved franchise figure — and father in law of former Vikings quarterback, Rich Gannon — died from health complications on Sunday morning, November 4. He was 80 years old.

According to the many who got to see him play — and the fortunate few who played with him — Bill “Boom Boom” Brown was the hard-nosed, old-school, quintessential NFL Films Presents player. He began his career in the pre-Super Bowl era, entering the league with the Chicago Bears in 1961. However, the Bears went on to trade their second-round draft selection out of Illinois to the Vikings following his rookie season. The move would mark the start of a tenure that stretched from 1962 until 1974, a career which saw Brown establish his name as synonymous with Minnesota football — and which would cement his name among the top five rushers in the franchise’s history.

Brown trails only Chuck Foreman, Robert Smith, and Vikings rushing king Adrian Peterson in career rushing yards. Before Peterson also eclipsed the field in the all-time touchdown category, Brown was tied at the top of the list — having contributed 52 over the span of his career. 24 of the 286 receptions that Brown amassed also went for touchdowns, giving him a total of 76 by the time that he retired from the game. 75 of those touchdowns were achieved as a Viking.

One could only imagine what his stats would have looked like had Brown continued to play, as his final season wound up being his best. He put together 1,569 total yards and 16 touchdowns in 14 games in that final season. It would be his fourth Pro-Bowl campaign of that swan song season.

“He was an incredible man who was so good to me and everyone he ever met!” Gannon would write in a Twitter post which he put out in honor of his wife’s late father. Rich and Shelley Gannon gave Brown two grandchildren.

MSN reports that Brown’s widow, Darlene, told Minnesota’s Pioneer Press that the family intends on donating Brown’s brain to Boston University’s Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy department — so that they may continue to build on their research around CTE. Although Brown’s death is not determined to have come as a consequence of the neurological illness, the man who revealed the reality of CTE to the sport — Dr. Omalu — has gone on record to say that he suspects up to 90 percent of those men who’ve ever played professional football have suffered to some degree from the condition.