Eddie Brown, the father of New England Patriots’ wide receiver Antonio Brown, is considered by many people to have been the best Arena Football League player in history.
It seems clear that Antonio inherited at least some of his athletic ability from his dad, although his contact with his father was intermittent in childhood. They have now developed a close relationship, however.
Antonio Brown will need all of the family support he can get as he weathers controversy. Antonio Brown been accused of rape by his personal trainer Britney Taylor in a lawsuit. He denies the accusations.
“The #greatests from day one. Always lookin up. Love you pops,” Antonio wrote on Instagram with a throwback picture of his father.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Eddie Brown Played for the Firebirds in the Arena Football League But Thinks Antonio Is the ‘Best’
There’s no question that Eddie Brown was also a talented athlete, although he didn’t make it in the NFL like his son has done. However, Eddie Brown was a two-time league MVP in the Arena Football League.
According to ESPN, Eddie Brown “played his entire career with the Firebirds, from 1994-2000 in Albany, N.Y.” He retired in 2003.
At that time, he was “the AFL’s top career receiver for TDs with 303,” ESPN reported, adding that he set a record by scoring nine touchdowns in a single game and “had 949 career catches.”
“Eddie Brown was simply the best receiver to play Arena Football,” Chicago Rush coach and committee member Mike Hohensee told ESPN.
Eddie Brown told ESPN that he doesn’t feel competitive with his son. “I’m never in competition with him,” Eddie said. “If you ask who was better, I’ll always tip my hat to him. He’s the best.” You can see Eddie Brown’s career stats here.
2. Brown’s Dad Was Known as ‘Touchdown Eddie Brown’ After Being Cut by the Cardinals
Yes, you read that right. Eddie Brown once scored nine touchdowns in a single game. That earned him the nickname, “Touchdown Eddie Brown.”
He was once asked how he was able to accomplish such an astonishing record. According to Bleacher Report, he responded with a laugh and said, “First, they have to throw you the ball that many times.”
He added: “I just figured the quicker I could score, the quicker I could sit down,” Brown says. “Less wear and tear on my body.”
According to Bleacher Report, Eddie Brown ended up in the Arena Football League after the Phoenix Cardinals cut him in 1992. From Miami, he was a “junior college standout,” the site reported. Steelers Wire explains how “dynamic” Eddie was and how he is now a coach.
3. Eddie Brown Left Antonio Behind When He Went to College But Later Developed a Relationship With His Son
Brown’s childhood was a difficult one, in part because his father wasn’t in his life consistently when he was growing up, and he didn’t get along with his mother’s new partner. His mom, Adrianne Moss, raised him until age 16, but he became homeless at that point.
According to an ESPN article, Adrianne and Antonio stayed behind when Eddie Brown “left to play wide receiver for Louisiana Tech.” Antonio and his brother went years without seeing their dad. His mother remarried, and he didn’t get along with her new husband. Thus, when he was 16, he briefly became homeless.
ESPN describes how Antonio “bounced among friends’ sofas, sometimes sleeping in cars. If he could scrounge up the money, he’d stay in a cheap hotel room.”
According to Steelers Depot, Antonio grew “up in a dangerous Miami community that was checkered with gang activity and violence.”
4. At First, Antonio Barely Knew Who His Dad Was But They Later Developed a Relationship
Eddie explained how he worked to get to know Antonio.
“I remember going onto the field after one of his games against Ball State,” he said to Indy Star. “He gave an interview after the game, then walked by me like he didn’t even know who I was.”
“But the next week, I went down to Western Michigan to watch him play again. I wanted to be accessible and ready to talk. Tony and I were finally able to have that conversation we needed to have. Once we did, and he was at a mature level to understand, it was great.”
The relationship is now in a great place, Eddie Brown told ESPN. “Time always heals wounds,” Eddie said to ESPN. “I think he is starting to understand a lot more things but where he’s at now mentally, he feels there is no other bigger support system than having his dad by his side. And I’m honored. It’s about building that family tradition of doing things together.”
5. Antonio Brown Helped His Dad Celebrate His Jersey Retirement
When Eddie Brown’s jersey was retired, his son was at his side. “He was excited for me,” Eddie Brown told ESPN.
“All last week, he had all kinds of things set up for me. We went on the yacht. On the boat, bottle of champagne on my retirement. We went to South Beach and had a great dinner. He’s just been doing a whole lot of events to recognize me to say, ‘I’m proud of you, Dad.’ He’s all-in with it.”
Eddie Brown told ESPN that he and Antonio now have an “awesome” relationship.
READ NEXT: Britney Taylor’s Accusations Against Brown.