Dave Brown did not become a coach with the Seahawks until 1992. But the Pro Bowl cornerback actually began coaching his teammates during his 10-year playing career.
Just ask Paul Johns, who made the team as rookie free agent wide receiver/punt returner in 1981 and now is the team’s assistant director of community outreach. Johns caught 34 passes and scored four touchdowns in 1983, when he also was the team’s leading receiver in the playoffs (11 for 168 yards). He returned a punt 75 yards for a TD that season, as well, and his 11.4-yard average on 74 returns still ranks No. 2 in franchise history.
“Dave Brown was the one who made me realize that this was a different game up here in the NFL, and you’d better study,” said Johns, who lists Brown, Hall of Fame wide receiver Steve Largent and fellow wide-out Sam McCullum as “the three guys who taught me the most” in a career that ended during the 1984 season because of a neck injury.
“Dave taught me about coming out of your breaks quickly, because Dave would run your route better than you would. If you brought a college route, trying to bring it to the pros, Dave would run your route better. Because he had studied the way the route was supposed to be run, and how other receivers in the league would run it. So he taught be how to be precise in running my routes.”
Your teammates tend to listen when you’re on the way to becoming the franchise’s all-time leader in interceptions (50) and interception returns for touchdowns (five), and also ranking seventh in tackles (684) and sixth in games started (159). Brown’s final season with the Seahawks was 1986. He returned to coach the defensive backs from 1992-98. Brown died after suffering a heart attack in 2006, but his legacy – and lessons taught – obviously live on.
“The other thing Dave taught me was, ‘Be in a hurry, but don’t rush,’ ” Johns said. “I always kept that in my head: Be in a hurry, but don’t rush.
“Be in a hurry to get into your route, but don’t cut it short. Be in a hurry to come out of your break, but don’t rush it. Because everything in the NFL is timing. So that was my mantra: Be in a hurry, but don’t rush.”
If Johns ever needed a role model on his side of the ball, there was Largent.
“He was in a hurry, but nothing was rushed,” Johns said. “It all came together when I’d watch Steve: Be in a hurry, but don’t rush.”
From Dave Brown’s lips, to Steve Largent’s routes, to Paul Johns’ NFL education.