Gary Brown, former running back and coach, dies at 52

Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

Gary Brown, who rushed for 4,300 yards while playing on three NFL teams in the 1990s before going on to coach running backs in the pro and college ranks, has died. He was 52.

Wisconsin’s athletic department and the Dallas Cowboys announced that Brown died Sunday. No cause of death was disclosed. Brown had battled cancer on multiple occasions.

Brown had coached Wisconsin’s running backs last season before departing for health-related reasons. He coached the Cowboys’ running backs from 2013-19.

“I am deeply saddened by Gary’s passing,” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said in a statement. “Though he was only on our staff for a year, he had a profound impact on our players and our program. We are all better people for having known Gary.”

He spent the 2020 season away from football, with his wife disclosing on social media at the time that a tumor had been found around the bile duct and head of Brown’s pancreas. Brown had dealt with colon and liver cancer about a decade earlier.

“What it did for me is it made me appreciate every day, made me sort of maximize every day and make sure you don’t leave anything on the table in life, with your family, with football, whatever you’re doing at that particular point,” Brown said last summer. “It just made me focus on what’s good in your life and take advantage of everything you have in your life.”

Brown played in the NFL with the Houston Oilers (1991-95), San Diego Chargers (1997) and New York Giants (1998-99). The Oilers selected him out of Penn State in the eighth round of the 1991 draft.

He rushed for 1,002 yards in 1993 and 1,063 yards in 1998.

Brown followed that up with a productive coaching career.

When Brown worked as the Cowboys’ running backs coach on Jason Garrett’s staff, DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott each won NFL rushing titles and Darren McFadden had a 1,000-yard season. The Cowboys averaged at least 4 + yards per carry in each of Brown’s seven seasons.

“Gary Brown had a big heart partnered with a big smile and a big personality,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “His energy and spirit were infections. He lit up every room he walked into and touched the lives of those who knew him in such a positive way.”

Brown also had a four-year tenure as the Cleveland Browns’ running backs coach. Peyton Hillis and Trent Richardson each had 1,000-yard seasons while Brown coached them.

After taking the 2020 season off for health reasons, Brown coached Wisconsin’s running backs last season. Brown played a big role in the emergence of Braelon Allen, who ran for 1,268 yards and eight touchdowns his freshman season after most schools had recruited him to play safety or linebacker.

“Everything I did was really because of him,” Allen said last month. “When I came in, I didn’t know the first thing about really playing running back. I just kind of knew how to run the ball. My growth from fall camp to the end of the season was crazy, and really all the credit’s due to him.”

Brown didn’t join Wisconsin’s team for the Las Vegas Bowl . School officials announced last month that Brown was stepping away from coaching to assume an off-field role with the program.

His coaching career also included stints at Lycoming College (2003-05), Susquehanna University (2006-07) and Rutgers (2008). He helped coach running backs at the New York Giants’ training camp in 2005 and worked with the Green Bay Packers in 2006 and Carolina Panthers in 2007 as part of the NFL’s minority coaching fellowship program.

Survivors include his wife, Kim, and three children.

Minnesota football players’ discrimination lawsuit dismissed

Jesse Johnson-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

MINNEAPOLIS — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by nine former University of Minnesota football players who were accused of sexual assault in 2016 in a case that roiled the school’s football program.

The lawsuit against the school claimed that the players faced emotional distress and financial damage after being falsely accused of being sex offenders. The players, who were identified in the lawsuit as John Does, sought unspecified damages for willful and malicious discrimination.

A woman alleged up to a dozen football players raped her or watched and cheered at an off-campus party in 2016. None of the players were ever charged.

The university found that 10 football players committed sexual misconduct. Five of them were expelled or suspended for violating student conduct codes, and the others were cleared on appeal.

In their lawsuit, the players alleged that the woman initiated the sexual encounters with players and an underage recruit.

U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank dismissed the lawsuit last week, saying the former players did not prove any of their claims, including allegations of bias by university investigators or pressure from Athletic Director Mark Coyle and former President Eric Kaler, the Minneapolis Star-Tribune reported.

David Madgett, an attorney for the players, said Tuesday that they are considering an appeal but have to determine if it makes sense financially and in terms of letting the former players get on with their lives. He said it was disappointing that the outcome was determined by the judge’s version of events and not decided by a jury.

“It’s disappointing to see disputes decided in this way,” Madgett said. “That’s the way things are decided more and more these days. … It’s disappointing you don’t get your day in court.”

When the allegations became public in 2016, players threatened to boycott the team’s trip to the Holiday Bowl. But after a graphic report of the investigation was released, the players agreed to play in the game.

University of Minnesota spokesman Jake Ricker said the school appreciated the judge’s decision affirming the actions taken in the case. He said the university would continue its work focusing on sexual misconduct awareness, prevention and response.

Frank dismissed the lawsuit in 2019, but an appeals court reinstated part of it in 2021 and returned it to Frank.

The players, all of whom are Black, also initially claimed racial discrimination, but that claim was previously dismissed.

The only remaining claim alleged Title IX gender discrimination. The former players noted that they never faced criminal charges, but Frank’s ruling said that “is certainly not evidence of a judicial adjudication or that plaintiffs ‘were proven innocent.'”

The men also claimed that an investigator for the university’s Office of Equal Opportunity and Affirmative Action used “manipulative tactics” with them in interviews and that their accuser helped draft the report. The players also alleged that “prior failed investigations motivated” the the school to punish them.

Frank said all the claims were unsupported by the evidence and “no reasonable jury could find that the University disciplined plaintiffs on the basis of sex.”

Michigan State player who swung helmet gets probation

Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
1 Comment

ANN ARBOR, Mich. — A Michigan State football player who swung his helmet at a Michigan player in a stadium tunnel expressed regret Tuesday and said he’s “just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue” on the field.

Khary Crump, a defensive back, was sentenced to probation. He was one of seven Michigan State players charged in a skirmish that followed a loss at Michigan Stadium on Oct. 29.

Crump was the only Spartan facing a felony, but that charge was dismissed in an agreement to plead guilty to misdemeanors. His record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation.

“Unfortunately, an exchange of words (took place), I felt attacked and unfortunately I did what I did,” Crump said of the tunnel altercation involving Michigan’s Gemon Green. “I’m not proud of that. I’m looking forward to moving forward.”

Crump was suspended by coach Mel Tucker. In addition, the Big Ten has suspended him for eight games in 2023.

“I had difficulties trying to stomach my actions … on that fateful day, but it happened. I can’t take it back,” Crump told MLive.com after the court hearing. “Honestly, I’m just looking forward to wuppin’ some maize and blue in the future — on the football field, of course.”

At least four other players charged with misdemeanors Will Likely have their cases dismissed in exchange for community service and other conditions. The cases against two others are pending.