Bill Little commentary: Tarell Brown - Out of darkness, into light
Jan. 28, 2013
Bill Little, Texas Media Relations
Teammates and friends such as Ross who have been through the Super Bowl have counseled Brown on such things as social media and pacing yourself physically, but the bottom line he says remains the same. It is one thing to "get" to the Super Bowl - the important thing is to win it. Friends and family have been "blowing up" Tarell's cell phone with questions about accommodations and tickets.
For Brown, it represents the high point of a football career that includes being a part of one of the most successful eras in recent Texas football history, as well as a return to glory for the San Francisco 49ers.
"It still hasn't sunk in yet," he said last week. "Getting there means a great deal to our team, but there is still something more. The most important thing is still to win the game. When I talked to Ross, the thing he talked about most was getting that ring. It is something that we as a team understand. We are really close, and we have had to play at a high level to get where we are. Now we have to keep preparing as we have all season."
"It is a reflection of the coaching and the character of the Texas program.[Assistant head coach/defensive backs] Coach [Duane] Akina did a great job in preparing us for the fundamentals of the game, but it is more than just on the field stuff. You learn to play in big games at Texas, and you understand what it takes to win at that level. When you look at the fact that Texas has had at least one player in eight straight Super Bowl games, it is a reflection of the stability of the program, and a credit to how they prepared us."
But beyond the on-the-field success (which has included a pass interception and 39-yard return against Green Bay in the game that advanced the 49ers to the NFC Championship game), the most remarkable part of the Tarell Brown story has not been in the work he has done on the field. While as a defender his job is based on "taking" from the other teams' offense, it is the giving that sets Tarell Brown apart.
From the beginning, his life has had its tragedies. His mom was murdered in what may have been a case of mistaken identity while she was on her way to her job with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation when he was nine years old. When he had a couple of off-the-field missteps during his senior season at Texas, the Longhorn coaching staff and his dad, Robert, stood by him. Then, as Tarell was preparing for the NFL Draft Combine in the spring of 2007, Robert Brown died of a heart attack.
In conjunction with Brown's Kids, Tarell has held a football and cheerleader clinic for kids in his hometown of Mesquite each of the last several summers. Teammates and NFL players who are friends volunteer to help.
According to the 49ers website, Brown's solid play reflects his preparation. Every morning, he is on the treadmill at 6:30, running two miles before he goes to practice later in the day.
"It's part of what I do, he told the web reporter, "it makes me feel prepared."
Tarell credits his dad and uncles, friends and grandparents for rearing him, and he wears tattoos in memory of his mom and late father. The tragedy which permeated his early life never really goes away, and through the years the thoughts of his mom and dad remain precious. Their memory never leaves. He says he thinks about his mom every day.
Gerald Mann, the famed preacher who built a mega-church in Austin, once said that the only way to replace "grief" is with "gratitude."
That has been the story of Tarell Brown. He plays football for the love of the game (he says it gives him a chance to just be a kid), and he lives his life for the love of people.
"I am just trying to do my part in my community. You know, this is bigger than me," Brown said. "I have been blessed in my life to get through things...to have my ups and have my downs. I know there are people out there who have the same problems and are going through rough times."
Perhaps it is more than coincidence that Tarell Brown wound up playing for the 49ers, who make their home in the city by the Bay. When you think of the great city, the lasting memory isn't the fog or the cable cars or even the great food. For this is the city of the Golden Gate, which is humanity's link over the troubled waters far below.
And it is in that space that Tarell Brown has placed himself. He's a fine football player, a great friend, a humanitarian and good person.
Most of all, he's a bridge.