Cleveland rookie camp was more of the same. Brown knocked over anyone he saw, including the assistant equipment manager, who was holding a blocking dummy and suffered a broken collarbone. Brown also fought anyone, anytime. He still didn't know the fundamentals of pass-blocking, so he tackled defensive ends as they tried to rush past him. The defensive ends and the coaches screamed, but Brown's ferocity was undeniable. Belichick loved scufflers.
Brown spent his first season on injured reserve, learning his new job. He arrived every day before seven in the morning to study the dance steps of his position. An assistant coach, Pat Hill, set out chairs across the meeting-room floor in the formations an offensive lineman would face. Brown blocked the chairs with a passion. Player personnel director Mike Lombardi supplied him with films of Jackie Slater, the All-Pro tackle for the Los Angeles Rams. See? This is how you do it. Brown tried to copy the moves. He had this one chance, and he wasn't going to let it go. He was on the roster in his second season—the year that Copeland first saw him and asked, "What is that?"—and a starter in his third.
"Belichick liked emotional guys," Brown says. "The day before a game, he'd call me into his office and say, 'Look ass——, if you don't f——— block, we're going to f——— lose, and I'm going to send your f——— ass home.' I'd say, 'Send me home? I'm damn sure not going back to D.C To me, D.C. stood for Death Certificate. I'd come out of those meetings heated up."
Brown still is amazed that he is in the league. He was so naive that he tried to cash a paycheck at a drive-through bank window. He remembers veteran Tony Jones, one of his mentors, looking at him—this wild kid from the D.C. ghetto with hair in braids and a rap-video wardrobe—and saying, "First, we have to get you a haircut. Then we have to get you some clothes."
Brown has learned so much about the game, about everything. The team moved to Baltimore after his first three seasons, and he moved with it. After three years as a Raven, he was a free agent and signed with the new Browns. He is back in Cleveland as veteran. A veteran! He is married with two sons. He owns two houses, one in Cleveland and another in Baltimore. "I always thought I would want a Benz, like those guys on the corner in D.C," he says. "You know what, though? I'd rather have a tax-free bond than a Benz."
The foundation of his success has not changed. Brown still plays the game with knock-down-the-door anger. He eats healthier food now, trying to keep his weight down to cope with the speed of the new breed of pass rushers. But he still relies primarily on his rage. "I hate the guy I'm playing against," he says. "I hate everything about him. I say, 'This guy slapped my mother.' I say, 'Orlando's got to eat. Orlando's family's got to eat. This guy's taking food off Orlando's table.' "
Copeland, by game time on Oct. 10, was a despicable character to Brown. A mass that not only had to be moved but also had to be buried. Brown's first priority would be to protect the inside lane to the quarterback. Force Copeland outside. Violence would be met by violence. If Copeland led with his helmet, as many pass rushers do, Brown would counter with an upward push to Copeland's chin. If the head was pushed back, the body would follow.
"Copeland's a bull-rusher," Brown said. "He likes to come inside. The Bengals have a different defense now. They have him slanting sometimes. They have him two-gapping sometimes, playing head-up with me. Sometimes he's got to read me first, then go make the play. Well, he's not going to make the play, but he's a good player. He's got some speed. Some finesse. He'll try some shakes on me, try to get around the corner. But it won't work."
Brown says he always reads the press-guide biography of his opponent. He likes to know as much as he can about the man's personal life. Under "Personal" for Copeland, the Bengals' press guide reads, "Born in Lanett, Ala.... Attended Valley (Ala.) H.S., lettering in football and basketball.... Hobbies include fishing and video games." It is not a lot of information.