Counting down the weekdays to Super Bowl LI on Feb. 5 in Houston, we look back at the 50 greatest Super Bowl competitors from the ASN family of schools as calculated one year ago. Today: 17
It's no surprise Antonio Brown continued the family business of catching passes.
Brown is the son of Eddie "Touchdown" Brown, who in 2006 was voted the Arena League's greatest player of all time. The elder Brown played 10 seasons at wide receiver for the Albany/Indiana Firebirds and once caught 9 touchdown passes in a game.
The son never accomplished that but he did catch 9 TD passes in his junior year at Central Michigan. In 2009, he hauled in 110 receptions for 1,498 yardswhile helping the Chippewas to their second MAC championship in three years and a Top 25 finish in the final polls.
He also appeared in a Super Bowl. And like many NFL players, Antonio Brown’s fondest Super Bowl memories aren’t about moments on the field.
17-Antonio-BrownBrown was a rookie when the Pittsburgh Steelers won the 2010 AFC championship and went on to Super Bowl XLV, losing 31-25 to the Green Bay Packers. But that didn’t diminish the excitement of being on the biggest stage in sports.
“Just being in the stadium for the first kickoff and simply experiencing the Super Bowl,” Brown replied when asked about his favorite memory.
His father, who was not always around when Antonio was growing up in Miami neighborhoods infested with drugs and gangs, attended the game.
“I don't think you can put it in words,” Eddie Brown told the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union. “A guy drafted in the sixth round, playing with a chip on his shoulder, and he's playing in the Super Bowl now. It's impressive. I'm very proud.”
The father watched the son make only one catch for a yard in Super Bowl XLV. Antonio also returned four punts for five yards and four kickoffs for 88 yards. The wide receiver out of Central Michigan who finished as the Mid-American Conference's No. 4 career receptions leader, went on to become a three-time Pro Bowl selection. He led the NFL in receiving in 2014.
Leading up to the Super Bowl, Brown was a clutch player for the Steelers, both as a receiver and a return specialist. In his season debut on Sept. 19, 2010, he returned a punt 89 yards for a touchdown. In the postseason, he caught 58-yard pass on third-and-19 to set up the winning touchdown in a 31-24 victory against the Baltimore Ravens in the AFC divisional playoffs and a 14-yard pass in the AFC Championship game to seal a 24-19 victory against the New York Jets.
A sixth-round pick, Brown has played his entire pro career with the Steelers. This season he became the first player in NFL history with consecutive seasons of at least 125 catches.
And his goal is returning to the Super Bowl.
“It’s the greatest game on earth,” he said. “That’s what we put in all the offseason work for.”
Jill R. Dorson is a freelance writer based in San Diego.