Former Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens offensive lineman Orlando Brown died Friday at the age of 40. Police told Baltimore's WJZ that Brown was found dead inside his home and there were no signs of foul play.
"Our heartfelt condolences to the family of Orlando Brown, his three sons," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said Friday. "I think everybody knows what he meant to this organization. He's still a big part of us. He's been coming around a lot, working with some of our young players. We're forever grateful just for what he did for the Ravens organization and what he did for the present team. We just can't express our sorrow enough."
Former teammate Terrell Suggs added that "He was a beast on the field but a gentle giant off. It's unfortunate he had to leave us so young."
Brown played for 11 NFL seasons, though he's probably best remembered for an incident that took place during a December 1999 Jaguars-Browns game. Referee Jeff Triplette accidentally hit Brown in the eye with a weighted penalty flag. Triplette apologized, although the injury forced Brown from the game. As he made his way to the locker room, Brown ran back on the field and shoved Triplette to the ground.
Brown was ejected from the game and and the NFL later suspended him for his actions. A year later and still suffering from the injury, Cleveland released Brown two years into a six-year, $27 million contract. He ended up suing the league for damages.
But CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman warns that we shouldn't let one play define Brown's career.
"Brown wasn't without flaws just like the rest of us but he shouldn't be remembered for that one incident," Freeman writes. "Remember him in total context. A great offensive lineman who never quit, who never stopped, had the unending loyalty of his teammates, long after he left football, and was one of the NFL's great fighters."
Brown returned to the NFL in 2003 with the Ravens. He retired following the 2005 season.
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