Oct. 17, 2014
By Brad Muller | More Features
At thirty-five years old, former South Carolina defensive back Sheldon Brown is a little surprised he's being honored as an SEC Football Legend.
"When you hear about these awards, you sometimes think about older players and guys that have been removed from the game for a while," Brown said. "It makes me proud to be a Gamecock because there are so many more players that deserve the award. For them to come to me at this time makes me really appreciate what they think of me."
The SEC Football Legends is an annual award program of the Southeastern Conference designed to honor outstanding former student-athletes from each of the conference's fourteen member schools. The program began in 1994 and is highlighted by the Legends Dinner, which is one of several events held during the week leading up to the SEC Championship Game. The 2014 class was announced in October and the honorees are also recognized at halftime of this weekend's SEC Championship game.
"When you step on the football field, that's just business. Your true character really stands out when someone comes in and wants to talk with you outside of football. My parents always taught me to treat others as you would like to be treated."
Originally from Fort Lawn, South Carolina, Brown played for the Gamecocks from 1998-2001 and was a big part of laying the foundation for the success of the program. His career started with the Gamecocks combining for a 1-21 record during his first two seasons, but it turned around quickly as South Carolina posted 8 and 9-win seasons with back-to-back Outback Bowl victories in his final two years.
"We had some tremendous leaders in place, especially with coaches," Brown said. "They didn't let guys let up and quit. We worked our tails off. It was a great way to go out. We all played for each other."
Brown was a two-time All-America and All-SEC selection. Along the way he grabbed nine career interceptions, including two in a win over Clemson as a senior. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Eagles in the second round of the 2002 NFL draft and enjoyed eleven years in the league. Through his eight years with the Eagles and three with the Cleveland Browns, Brown tallied 26 career interceptions.
Brown was known for his hard hits on the field, including a highlight reel pummeling of (then) New Orleans Saints rookie Reggie Bush in a 2006 playoff game. Off the field, he had a different reputation and was honored with the "Good Guy Award" in 2008 by the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association for his accessibility and friendly manner when dealing with the press.
"When you step on the football field, that's just business," Brown said. "Your true character really stands out when someone comes in and wants to talk with you outside of football. My parents always taught me to treat others as you would like to be treated."
Brown now lives in Lake Wylie, South Carolina, with his wife Jenny and two children, Dion and Simone. In 2013 he worked the sidelines at his alma mater, Lewisville High School, coaching defensive backs, but he is now spending more time with family.
"I have a recreation baseball team and basketball team that I'm coaching," Brown said. "I thought it would benefit my son more if I concentrated on fall baseball and things that he wanted to do."
His playing days at South Carolina helped him develop relationships throughout the state, and now he's looking into business ventures involving child development which would include day care and training.
Brown enjoys coming back to Williams-Brice Stadium on Saturdays with his family to tailgate at every home game.
"I enjoy being out there with the fans and carrying on the legacy," Brown said. "My son is eight years old, and he eats it up. We just have a ball being in that atmosphere."
After 11 years in the NFL, there was still interest in him from teams over the last two years, but Brown felt that those opportunities weren't in the best interests of him and his family. While it may have been difficult to adjust to not suiting up on weekends, Brown is happy to enjoy more time with family, and his body is enjoying the time away from all of the punishment.
"I look at some of the collisions going on right now and I know I made the right decision," Brown said.
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