Timmy Brown, a three-time Pro Bowl running back for the Philadelphia Eagles in the 1960s and later a Hollywood actor, has died from dementia complications, the team announced. He was 82 and was living in Southern California with his son at the time of his death.
“He was such a kind, warm person,” said his son, Sean Brown, to the Philadelphia Inquirer. “He was a really good man … there was no facade, no fakeness. He had a very tough childhood, so he made sure that I had a very happy, very good one.”
Timmy Brown spent time in an orphanage and in foster care before attending Indiana’s Ball State University. The Green Bay Packers drafted him in 1959′s 27th round, but cut him after one game. The Eagles picked him up and he took revenge on the Packers by being part of the 1960 NFL championship team for Philadelphia that defeated the Packers in the title game.
Brown was a solid combination back, equally adept at catching passes or running out of the backfield. He led the NFL in all-purpose yardage in 1962 and ’63. Then, in 1966, he became the first player in NFL history to return two kickoffs for touchdowns in the same game.
His final season was 1968. He was traded to the Baltimore Colts, but was little used and retired after that team’s historic loss to the New York Jets in Super Bowl III, marking the first AFL victory in that series.
“Timmy Brown was an all-time great Eagle and one of the most dynamic multipurpose players of his era. He overcame many obstacles in his life to enjoy success both as an athlete and as an entertainer,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “A three-time Pro Bowler and member of our 1960 NFL Championship team, Timmy excelled as a running back and return specialist with his incredible athleticism and signature versatility. He was one of the most exciting players to watch during his career. Those who knew him well have said they will remember him for his outgoing, uplifting personality and the connections he built with his teammates and the community. Our thoughts are with his loved ones during this time.”
In 2003, when the Eagles moved into their new home at Lincoln Financial Field, Sylvester Stallone made an appearance, wearing a No. 22 jersey in honor of Brown, his boyhood hero.
After football, Brown headed to Hollywood. He is best remembered there for his roles in the Robert Altman films MASH and Nashville, and appeared in about a half-dozen episodes of the M*A*S*H TV series. He was one of only four actors to appear in both the movie and the subsequent TV show. He sometimes was listed as “Timothy Brown,” though his earlier football name was the one that mostly stuck.
Brown had a long career in television in non-recurring roles, appearing on such shows as The Wild Wild West, Adam-12, Mission: Impossible, T.J. Hooker and Benson, among others. He also carved out a niche as an action hero in 1970s “Blaxploitation” films, which his son noted he greatly enjoyed.
Later, he became a Los Angeles parole officer, working at Camp Kilpatrick, a California juvenile detention facility that his son said inspired the 2006 movie Gridiron Gang.
Survivors include Brown’s son Sean, two grandchildren, and a sister, Della Mitchell. Funeral services are postponed because of the pandemic. Sean Brown said the family hopes to hold a memorial service on May 24, Brown’s 83rd birthday.