The story of the first Wildcat to play in the Super Bowl as told by the numbers

0
640
Running back Larry Brown receives the ball from Lynn Dickey during the 1968 football game against the University of Missouri. (1969 Royal Purple Yearbook | Collegian Media Group)

In the 1969 NFL draft, 5-foot-11 running back Larry Brown was the 191st overall pick. Soon, he was the 1972 NFL MVP — the only Wildcat ever to receive the honor.

Brown was born in Pennsylvania and found his way to Kansas to continue his football career at Dodge City Community College before coming to Kansas State in 1967.

The pre-Bill Snyder era at K-State is a dark one. These teams struggled to win. In his two years in Manhattan, Brown finished with a career-record of 5-15. He led the Wildcats in rushing in 1968 with 402 yards and one touchdown.

During the 1968-1969 K-State football season, the university unveiled what was then called KSU Stadium. In 2009, the stadium was rededicated as the Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (1969 Royal Purple Yearbook | Collegian Media Group)
During the 1968-1969 K-State football season, the university unveiled what was then called KSU Stadium. In 2009, the stadium was rededicated as the Bill Snyder Family Stadium. (1969 Royal Purple Yearbook | Collegian Media Group)

When his time in Manhattan came to an end, he scored only three touchdowns and had 849 total yards as a Wildcat. His was not a particularly outstanding collegiate career — he would likely be completely overlooked if he played for K-State today.

Brown was drafted by the Washington Redskins. A total of 33 running backs were selected before Brown, including No. 1 overall draft pick OJ Simpson, who was tapped by the Buffalo Bills.

Although he was drafted for organizational depth, Brown was soon shaped into a fearless running back under legendary coach Vince Lombardi.

Lombardi noticed Brown’s potential, but also saw that he struggled to get the ball at the snap. It was soon discovered that Brown was hard of hearing and completely deaf in his right ear. He was allowed to have a hearing aid placed in his helmet so he could hear the snap count, which made all the difference.

In his rookie season, he rushed for 888 yards and four touchdowns. An additional 302 receiving yards earned him his first Pro-Bowl selection. In the 1970 season, he remained at the top of the NFL, leading the NFL in rushing yards at 1,125 yards — the first player in Redskins history to capture a 1,000 yard season. Brown was also named a First-Team All-Pro in 1970 and a Second-Team All-Pro in 1971.

The 1972 season was the breakout season for Brown. He was the first Wildcat to play in the Super Bowl and was named NFL MVP.

Brown dominated opponents, averaging 101.3 yards per game. He was a threat in the passing game with 473 receiving yards and four touchdowns. He earned his fourth and final Pro-Bowl selection, was named a First-Team All-Pro for the second time, and won the AP Offensive Player of the Year.

(1969 Royal Purple Yearbook | Collegian Media Group)
As the ball is snapped, running back Larry Brown prepares for his move against the Iowa State defense during the 1968 football season. (1969 Royal Purple Yearbook | Collegian Media Group)

Washington finished with a 13-4 record, but was ultimately defeated in Super Bowl VII 14-7 by the Miami Dolphins. Brown was held in check through the whole game, limited to just 72 rushing yards and no touchdowns.

Brown led the league in touchdowns with 14 during the 1973 season, but was plagued by injuries.

He retired in 1976 with 8,360 total career yards, 55 touchdowns and a perfect completion percentage.

Considered one of the greatest Washington Redskins of all time, he is in the Ring of Honor. Additionally, Fox Sports counts him as the second most successful Wildcats to play in the NFL.

Advertisement
SHARE