Willie Brown, loving husband, father, teammate, son, sibling, and friend, peacefully passed away at home in Tracy, California on Monday, October 21 at the age of 78 after a lengthy illness. Will’s dear and devoted wife of 24 years, Yvonne, was by his side.
Brown was born to Sam and Willie Jane Brown on December 2, 1940 in Yazoo City, Mississippi.
Willie will forever be cherished as a true Raider. He exemplified the Raider spirit. He entered the AFL as an undrafted free agent out of Grambling State University before joining the Silver and Black in1967. He remained an integral part of the organization through six decades. His legendary performance on the field changed the way the cornerback position was played and his valued guidance as a coach, mentor, and administrator permeated the organization and touched countless individuals both on and off the field. Willie’s loss will leave a tremendous void, but his leadership and presence will always be a major part of the fabric of the Raiders Family.
Willie was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on July 28, 1984. He shares the Raiders all-time lead of 39 interceptions. Willie was named All-Pro seven times, played in five AFL All Star Games and four NFL Pro Bowls, and played in three AFL and six AFC Championship Games with the Raiders, plus Super Bowls II and XI. He set a then-Super Bowl record with a 75-yard interception return for a touchdown against Minnesota in Super Bowl XI. Willie played in 204 regular season games with the Raiders and the Denver Broncos.
Willie was the 1968 winner of the Gorman Award as “Player Who Best Exemplifies the Pride and Spirit of the Oakland Raiders.” Willie also served as the Raiders defensive backfield coach from 1979-88, head football coach at Long Beach State in 1991, and at L.A. Jordan High School in 1994.
Brown rejoined the Raiders in 1995 as Director of Squad Development. He also returned to on-field coaching, tutoring Raider cornerbacks until retiring as a Position Coach. Willie also served in Football Administration on the Player Personnel staff and represented the Silver and Black as a proud member of the Raiders Alumni.
Willie was inducted to other Halls of Fames as well. These include the Grambling State University Hall of Fame in 1983, Louisiana Sports Hall of Fame in 1985, the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame in 1994, the Bay Area Sports Hall of Fame in 2001, Black College Hall of Fame in 2012, the African American Ethnic Sports Hall of Fame in 2010, and the Southwest Athletic Conference Hall of Fame.
In addition to his wife Yvonne, Willie is survived by 3 children: Will Brown Jr., Antoinette Brown, and Allison Brown, 8 siblings: Sam Brown Jr. (Norma) of Jacksonville Florida, David Brown (Cynthia) of Yazoo City, Mississippi, Milton Brown (Deborah) of Cleveland, Ohio, Donald Brown (Jennifer) of Terry, Mississippi, Ben Brown of Yazoo City, Mississippi, Jeffrey Brown of Lawrenceville, Georgia, Bennie Dean Williams of Yazoo City, Mississippi, and Julia Brown Karimu of Indianapolis, Indiana. Also surviving Willie are numerous aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Willie was grandfather to Brielle, Wesley, and Chanel as well as a great-grandfather to two.
Will is also survived by his best friend, Eddie Rodriguez (Rachel), nurse Phoebe de la Cruz, and his dear cousin Carolyn Kuykendall (George) all in whom he found great companionship, humor, and comfort.
Visitation Services for Willie will be on Monday afternoon, October 28, from 4:00-9:00pm at Fry Memorial Chapel (550 South Central Avenue, Tracy). The Rosary Service will be at 6:00pm.
Funeral Services will be the following morning on Tuesday, October 29th. Mass will be at 11:00 at St. Bernard’s Catholic Church (163 West Eaton Avenue, Tracy). Internment will follow at the Tracy Mausoleum (8842 West Schulte Road, Tracy).
Reception will be announced following Internment.