Legendary Back Ted Brown Represents Pack
Dec. 2, 2010
Brown's Football Resume
"Ted," the coach told him, "you're not good enough to play on this football team."
As many people have done over the years, Brown looked at Holtz like he was clown-school crazy.
"He proceeded to tell me that all those yards weren't by me," Brown said. "He said, 'If those offensive linemen hadn't gone in and blocked, you wouldn't have gotten any yards. If the receivers hadn't got to their men down field, you wouldn't have gotten any yards. It's not about you, Ted. It's about the team.'
"That was the most valuable lesson I ever learned as a football player."
Brown, a native of High Point, N.C., had sulked earlier in the season when he was little more than a seldom-used kickoff returner and a junior varsity tailback. Though, in hindsight, it's hard to imagine just why he thought he would step into an important role for the Wolfpack's high-powered rushing attack.
Brown, at 5-8, 175 pounds, had been a undersized tailback at High Point's Andrews High School, the same school where then-NC State starting quarterback Johnny Evans had played. Brown had gotten scholarship offers from Appalachian State, East Carolina, Western Carolina and NC State. He opted to rejoin Evans and his high school coach, Bob Boswell, who had just been hired as one of Holtz's assistant coaches.
In the first four games, however, Brown was relegated to the bench, while a cadre of other running backs did a poor imitation of the veer offense Holtz had used so effectively in his first three seasons in Raleigh. Of course, in those early days, the coach had "The Stallions," the affectionate nickname given to Willie Burden, Stan Fritts, Charley Young and Roland Hooks, perhaps the finest group of running backs in school history.
But their successors did not fare well in the Wolfpack's first four games of 1975, especially after fumbling the ball away six times in a 37-15 loss at Michigan State. While Holtz was deciding that he needed to revamp his offense, Brown was making the difficult decision to leave school. He hadn't even been on the travel squad to face the Spartans, and was practically despondent over his lack of playing time in that first season.
A phone call from his mother, Lillie Mae, and a long talk with Wolfpack assistant coach Bishop Harris convinced Brown he needed to stick it out a little while longer. The five touchdowns he scored against Chowan in a junior varsity game while the varsity team was embarrassing itself on regional television against Michigan State didn't hurt either.
"You get a little down," Brown said. "You get a little frustrated. A lot of things go through your mind. Coach Harris told me my time would come. And it did."
In his first collegiate start, five games into his freshman season, Brown had the first of his ACC-record 27 100-yard rushing games, leading the Wolfpack to a 27-0 victory at Indiana. The Pack split against Maryland and North Carolina, but Brown truly burst onto the scene in the record-breaking game against the Tigers.
He took his dose of advice from the coach, made sure he gave credit to his teammates, and the next week had one of the best all-round performances in the history of NC State football. Playing against South Carolina at Carter Stadium, Brown rushed for 164 yards on 23 carries, caught eight passes for 94 yards and returned two kickoffs a total of 36 yards. His 307 all-purpose yards in that 28-21 victory remains the best in school history.
The next week, Brown led the Wolfpack to its second consecutive victory over Penn State, a 15-14 victory at Beaver Stadium in State College, Pa. The Wolfpack went on to have a 7-4-1 record that season, and Brown went on to college football stardom.
But here's the remarkable thing about Brown, who will represent NC State this weekend at the Dr. Pepper ACC Football Championship in Charlotte: Many of the records he established more than 30 years ago in his spectacular playing career still stand.
Brown owns four of the 10 longest-standing individual marks in the ACC record book. His 4,602 rushing yards has not been challenged since he played his last home game on Nov. 25, 1978, against Virginia, during which his No. 23 jersey was retired.
His overall total of 51 career touchdowns was broken a few years ago by Virginia's Wali Lundi, but his 49 career rushing touchdowns still stands. No running back has ever had as many 100-yard rushing games as Brown, and the only players who have ever scored more than his 312 career points kicked it through the uprights instead of running it into the end zone.
And, in 57 years of ACC football competition, Brown is the only player in league history to earn four consecutive first-team All-ACC honors.
His accomplishments were legendary, indeed. So he's honored to come down from his longtime home in Apple Valley, Minn., to represent his alma mater at Friday night's Legends dinner and Saturday's championship game between Virginia Tech and Florida State.
"I guess it means, on some level, I had a successful college career," Brown said. "It means something, not just to me, but to the school and to my teammates. It's a great honor to be in a class like this, to be with fellow football players who have succeeded and been pretty good college players."
His numbers would be even more impressive if they included his totals in three bowl games. At the time, the NCAA did not recognize bowl accomplishments as part of career stats. That means the 399 rushing yards and 86 receiving yards are not included in his final tally. If they were, Brown would be one of only 15 running backs in NCAA history to rush for more than 5,000 yards in his career.
And Brown expects his records to stand at least a little while longer.
"Teams just don't run the ball like they did back then," said Brown, who rushed for more than 1,250 yards in both his junior and senior seasons at NC State. "I guess it makes the records mean a little less because teams pass so much now. You very seldom see a power offense or an offense that runs the ball the majority of the time. It just doesn't happen. The quickest way to score and the quickest way to create excitement is through the air."
But, with a little prodding, Brown does admit that he's proud of the longevity of his records.
"Thirty-some-odd years is pretty good, I guess," he said. "But they will be broken one day. That's what records are for."
But, considering Brown's totals came from his four years of playing just 11 regular-season games and his bowl stats didn't count, whoever breaks his records may have to suffer the indignity of an asterisk.
Brown settled in Minnesota, after retiring from professional football following eight successful seasons with the NFL's Minnesota Vikings. He's now a Ramsey County juvenile probation officer in St. Paul, Minn., working to help at-risk teenagers.
"I like working with juveniles because they're not to the point where they're gone deep into the system," Brown said. "You still try to help them become better citizens and instill in them the importance of staying in school and out of trouble. They aren't that far gone. I like working with kids. I love what I'm doing."
But he also stays busy watching college hockey. Turns out that Brown's oldest son J.T., a freshman starter for Minnesota-Duluth's top 10 program, is one of the nation's top young hockey players. Not surprisingly, like his old man, the younger Brown likes to score, netting 56 goals as a high school junior and senior.
For now, Ted Brown is looking forward to a trip home, to represent his alma mater and reflect on what was, by all sensible criteria, "a pretty good football career."