When Ross Browner became of age, the story goes that his father took him to work with him at the steel mill. Working there for one day, the oldest Browner son decided he wanted to play football and the younger brothers followed in his footsteps.
The oldest Browner was an All State football player at Defensive End and he was highly coveted by all of the big schools. Woody Hayes and Ohio State wanted him badly and he was a home state recruit. But, in the end, Ross Browner decided on Ara Parseghian and the Fighting Irish of Notre Dame and he signed in the 1973 recruiting class.
The Notre Dame Fighting Irish signed an outstanding recruiting class in 1971. Freshmen still weren’t eligible in 1971, but they played in 1972 and this class helped the Irish go 8-3 that season.
In 1973, the Irish added Ross Browner and Luther Bradley to their roster. These additions were vital to the Irish winning the national championship in 1973. Browner started at Defensive End and Bradley at Defensive Back as true freshmen.
Ross Browner was a 4 year starter for the Fighting Irish and 2 time consensus All American. He did, however, have to sit out the 1974 season because a bunch of the players got into some trouble.
But, Browner was a key player in national championships in 1973 and 1977.
He also won the Outland Trophy in 1976 and then the Lombardi in 1977. He also finished in 5th place for the coveted Heisman Trophy.
After finishing up at Notre Dame, Browner was the 8th player taken in the entire NFL Draft in 1978.
He played 9 seasons with the Cincinnati Bengals and another with the Green Bay Packers.
Jim Browner was a year younger than Ross, and he followed his older brother to Notre Dame. He was considerably smaller than his older brother and played Defensive Back for the Irish. He was the starting Safety for a couple of seasons on the same defense as Ross.
Jim also followed Ross to the Bengals where he played 2 seasons.
Then, there was brother Willard who was a year behind Jim. Willard also signed with Notre Dame and he was supposed to start at Fullback, but the lack of quality grades in the classroom forced Willard to transfer to Tulane.
In 1978, Willard ran for 448 yards and 3 Touchdowns at Tulane.
Sadly, in 1976, family patriarch Lee Browner died of cancer at the age of 49. The Browner family
packed up in Warren, Ohio and moved south to Atlanta, Georgia.
But, those weren’t the only changes.
The next brother in line was Joey and he was an All State Defensive Lineman at Atlanta’s Southwest High School as a junior and senior. He also played basketball with the legendary Dominique Wilkins.
Everyone believed that Joey would follow all of his big brothers to Notre Dame, but he surprised everyone by signing with the University of Southern California Trojans. That must have not only shocked the Fighting Irish and their fans, but it may have also angered them. No real Notre Dame fan has any love at all for the USC Trojans.
As a Defensive Back, Joey Browner was incredible and he was a 4 time All American. Playing along side Joey in the Trojan Defensive Backfield were Ronnie Lott and Dennis Smith. Lott is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Smith was a 1st round draft pick and a many time Pro Bowler.
Like Lott and Smith, Joey Browner was a 1st round draft pick.
As a Minnesota Viking, Joey was something of a legend just like he was in college and high school. He played there for 9 seasons and made the Pro Bowl 6 times and picked off 37 passes.
The 1992 season was his last and he finished up in Tampa Bay with the Buccaneers.
The next in line was Keith, and he was another big guy like oldest brother, Ross.
At 6-6, 245, Keith followed Joey out to USC and he started at Outside Linebacker for the Trojans.
Keith was a 2nd round draft pick by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1984. He played for the Bucs for 3 seasons and then bounced around the league between the Oakland Raiders, San Francisco 49ers and
San Diego Chargers before finishing his football career in the Arena League.
We aren’t even through with Browner brothers yet. Gerald was the biggest of them all and he played Defensive Tackle for the Georgia Bulldogs and then Morgan State.
The college football world finally ran out of Browner brothers, but a second generation emerged.
Max Starks is the son of Ross Browner and he played for the Florida Gators and then the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Rylan Browner is also the son of Ross and he played Offensive Tackle at Arizona for the Wildcats. Keith Browner Jr played for Cal Berkeley and then for the Houston Texans.
There are the Mannings and the Matthews families. Then, there’s the Selmon brothers: Selmons
In more recent seasons there is the McCaffrey family: McCaffrey
But, when all is said and done maybe nobody tops the Browner brothers.
6 brothers, 6 college football players and 4 NFL players make for a pretty talented family.