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May 16, 2010
Anthony Jansen graduates from Illinois with a degree in general engineering and a shoebox whose contents include a thick gray lineman's glove with the number 99 written in black on the wristband. He took it home that day in '07, not knowing whose it was, and later he looked up the Illini roster and matched the number to a name: Jerry Brown. Jansen kept the glove pinned to a bulletin board above his desk, occasionally showing it to visitors, marveling at its size, remembering how it felt to stand in the hot sun and share a victory and reach past another fan to catch an unexpected gift.
July 15, 2010
The Cowboys select defensive tackle Josh Brent in the supplemental draft. His Illinois driver's license is both expired and revoked. Twenty-three years ago, Gregory Stevenson called the ignition interlock a "godsend" because it helped him break the habit of driving drunk. But the interlock never came into play for Josh, because he never applied to legally drive during his suspension. Nor did he get the license reinstated.
August 12, 2011
Jerry Brown recovers a fumble for the Jacksonville Sharks in their 73--70 win over the Arizona Rattlers in ArenaBowl XXIV. At age 23 he's still fighting for the same thing he wanted 10 years ago: a chance in the NFL. Around this time one of his former coaches at Illinois talks with sports agent Chad Wiestling. Take a look at Jerry Brown, the coach says. If he'd finished his college career, he could've been a top draft pick.
September 27, 2011
With help from Wiestling, Jerry joins the practice squad of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in the Canadian Football League.
October 18, 2011
Jerry leaves the Tiger-Cats to explore his NFL options. In the spring he'll work out for the Jets and the Eagles without being offered a contract.