FOXBOROUGH — With the September sun shining and hundreds of fans filling the plaza outside of the Hall at Patriot Place, receiver/special teamer/cornerback Troy Brown was inducted into the franchise’s Hall of Fame Saturday.
Brown is the 18th player and 19th individual to be inducted into the Hall, and the first with three Super Bowl rings from the team’s championships in 2001, ’03, and ’04.
An eighth-round pick out of Marshall in 1993 who was released at the start of the 1994 season and spent seven weeks working at a Boys & Girls Club before then-general manager Bobby Grier called him back for a second chance, Brown went on to become New England’s all-time leader in receptions, punt returns, and punt return yardage.
In 2004, when he was 33 and injuries decimated the secondary, the slot receiver showed his team-first attitude yet again and played cornerback for the second half of the season and playoffs, pulling in three interceptions.
His final season was 2007. Earlier this year, he was overwhelmingly selected by the fans to be this year’s inductee.
In his introductory remarks, team owner Robert Kraft said, “Troy Brown didn’t adhere to the Patriot Way — he defined it.”
In his wide-ranging speech, Brown paid homage to his mother, who he said is incredibly giving and sacrificed a great deal not just for him and his two siblings, but also for her own siblings growing up.
Brown also thanked his two sons for inspiring him, the players who came before him in New England for paving the way, the players he played with, several of whom were on hand, and the fans, who gave him ovation after ovation during the 90-minute ceremony.
“We had a wonderful time,” he said.
“I looked up and I saw so many people lining the steps and just people cheering. It makes you think about everything you were able to do and everything you were able to accomplish on the football field, out in the community.
“It’s an unbelievable feeling, and in my eyes there’s no greater honor that you can receive.
“We can talk about Canton [home of the Pro Football Hall of Fame] and who goes in there, but that’s not the same, because these are people out here who supported me and cheered for me, booed me, got after me because they demanded more.
“If it wasn’t for them voting for me, I wouldn’t be in the Patriots Hall of Fame.”
Branch on hand
One of Brown’s former teammates who was on hand was Deion Branch, released a few weeks ago in a move many saw as a surprise. Branch said after the ceremony that he was surprised to be cut, but all players are surprised when it happens to them. Asked if he felt he was safe after fellow receivers Jabar Gaffney and Donte’ Stallworth were cut a few days before he was, Branch said, “Yes and no. It’s like what Troy was saying earlier — no one is ever safe. You’ve just got to come in and do your job and go from there, and that’s what I was doing. I think the organization is going to do what’s best for the team, whatever they feel is best for the team, and you have to respect that, and I do.” But if the Patriots called at some point this season to offer him a job, “I’d love to be back,” he said. “I’d embrace it and pick up right where I left off.”
The Patriots have won 10 straight home openers, dating to 2002, the season they opened Gillette Stadium . . . New England has won five straight games over the Cardinals, dating to 1993.