Of a heart attack, Roosevelt Brown, 71, a Hall of Fame offensive tackle who played for the Giants from 1953 to '65. SI's Paul Zimmerman remembers the eight-time All-NFL selection.
The phlebitis in his legs, which ended Brown's career at 33, had forced him to watch practice from one of those portable golf seats. As he sat observing a line drill at Giants training camp a few years ago, surveying the 300-pounders belly-bumping each other, I asked him what he thought of modern offensive-line techniques. Brown, a member of the scouting department, gave a little snort without taking his eyes off the field.
"Techniques?" he said. "What techniques? There isn't any technique anymore."
As a player Brown brought stylishness and grace to a position known for its brutality. He was a month short of his 21st birthday when he played his first game for the Giants, lining up at left tackle. He had been a two-time wrestling captain at Morgan State, and he carried 245 pounds, which grew to 255 in his later years, on a 29-inch waist. (Not that he was a little man. When he joined the Giants, they had only two heavier players.) His technique and body control were dazzling, but even more remarkable was his ability to pull and lead the sweeps of Eddie Price or Frank Gifford or Alex Webster around the left side. Guards were supposed to pull, not tackles. Pro football didn't see another pulling tackle until Ron Mix of the Chargers in 1960, and it hasn't seen one since. (They didn't measure 40 times in those days, but I'd guess Brown's was in the 4.7 range.) And Brown wouldn't just get out in front of the play, he would cut down his man like a scythe. Giants fans would start cheering as soon as they saw his number 79 flying around the end, looking for a target. It wasn't every day that a crowd cheered for an offensive lineman, but Rosey Brown, a proud and fierce warrior, might have been the best ever.