September 24, 2011

"They’re still throwing them in there... I wish he just would have dropped it, that’s all."

A life dramatically altered by one penalty flag, now over, after only 40 years.

65 comments:

David said...

Sad case. RIP.

Curious George said...

"A life dramatically altered by one penalty flag..."

How so? He did get a huge settlement, but he was already earning millions.

Ann Althouse said...

His behaved badly, suddenly. It ended his career. And then he died when he was 40.

ndspinelli said...

Sad indeed..May God comfort his family and friends.

CEO-MMP said...

What ended his career, Madame Professor?

He came back and played another what, 2 seasons after he recovered.



Just, you know, doing my bet to help you think more deeply.

Bender said...

The penalty flag is over after 40 years?

Ann Althouse said...

"He came back and played another what, 2 seasons after he recovered."

You don't think his whole life was altered by the incident? Maybe not, but that's how I read it, influenced by the fact that he died young.

I tend to fill out the facts in my imagination the way I would appropriate the story if I wanted to write a novel.

Ann Althouse said...

"The penalty flag is over after 40 years?"

Yeah, I thought about that. Considered rewriting... I guess I'm lazy.

CEO-MMP said...

What's his whole life got to do with you claiming it ended his career when it didn't?

Fred4Pres said...

The best revenge is living well.

Fred4Pres said...

I am sorry this incident appears to have impacted him so.

FedkaTheConvict said...

The entire story makes little sense. He was temporarily blinded yet he was able to walk back on to the field and shove the official?

His erratic behavior makes me wonder if he had some sort of brain injury or some other sort of mental problem. Hopefully they'll do like Dave Duerson and study his brain.

edutcher said...

It was one of those things (the flag) that can happen, but going after the ref put him beyond the pale.

What did in his career was his own petulance.

Still, 40 is far too young.

As David said.

Geoff Matthews said...

It was poor impulse control that lead him to assault the ref. But, in deference to him, his father had lost his vision, and this seemed like an issue that he had some anxiety over. This incident didn't end his career, and we don't know to what extent it affected his life after football.
There is a strong point to be made that the flags should be dropped, rather than thrown.

G Joubert said...

I remember this when it happened. Rush Limbaugh discussed it at length on his show. If you were a Rush listener back then.

fivewheels said...

I'm curious what Rush's take was. I remember being more or less outraged by the suspension. This ref threw a weighted object in the guy's face, took out his eye and gave him an injury that cost him three years of a career that is already naturally short. And he has a family history that makes him acutely sensitive to the pain of blindness. And knowing all this, it was necessary to punish him for a mere shove?

dbp said...

I see the relationship between the flag and early death in two possible ways and it is too early at this point to say which one, if any, is closest to the truth.

It is often the case that when one dies young, it is due to reckless or irresponsible behavior. So, you get into an accident, die violently or just neglect your health. This would fit in with his actions regarding the flag. Really poor impulse control in attacking the ref.

The other way of looking at the flag was that it was a freak accident. Maybe he died of some rare undiagnosed condition--really, much like a freak accident too.

Titus said...

Today is The Fluff Festival in Somerville.

Fluff is everywhere.


Fluffy Clouds and Tits.

Jason (the commenter) said...

BBs like putting out eyes, even when they aren't in guns, no wonder those people in A Christmas Story were so paranoid about them.

Cedarford said...

A lot of these pro football players die early. Better living and playing through chemistry, self-destructive behaviors...and all that...

Trooper York said...

That's a real shame.

It reminds me of how Mike Piazza had to retire because he kept getting hit in the eye with balls.

Of course he couldn't sue because it happened off the field.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

Fred4Pres said...

The pushing the ref thing seemed to have been at the moment (and he was likely blinded or impaired in one eye at the time, hence the league lenancy later on and the settlement).

But the settlement was decent and it was an accident. The article suggests he bothered by it and continued to be bothered years later (as if it contributed to his early death). I hope he can rest in peace.

Trooper York said...

Oh and one more thing.

BOSTON SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

ironrailsironweights said...

It sucked for him about the eye injury, and then the suspension. All he did was harmlessly push the referee, for Christ's sakes; if he'd thrown a good punch the ref might very well have been SUAC*. Still, he got a cool $25 million out of the deal, and still got to play two more seasons.

I suspect that his size may have had a lot to do with the early death.

* = Stinking Up A Coffin

Peter

Ipso Fatso said...

My guess as to the cause of death will be undiagnosed hypertension. I have known or heard about a number of young black males who in the prime of their life have dropped dead suddenly due to that condition. RIP.

Pogo said...

"Brown, a 6-foot-7, 360-pound lineman nicknamed Zeus"

If only Boltage had been around when he was a kid.

FedkaTheConvict said...

May he rest in peace.

I remembered seeing this but just to make sure I looked it up online. Here's Sports Illustrated account:

When Brown participated in a minicamp last month, it was the first time he had suited up since the game in which referee Jeff Triplette unintentionally derailed the big tackle's career. In calling a false start against Cleveland center Jim Bundren, Triplette threw his flag, which is weighted with BBs, toward the spot of the infraction. It sailed between the bars of Brown's face mask, striking his right eye. "One minute everything was fine," says Brown, "and the next minute—boom!—darkness, pain." He staggered toward the sideline holding his eye, then headed back toward the middle of the field and shoved Triplette to the ground. Brown was immediately ejected from the game, and three days later he was suspended indefinitely by the league. But by then he was in a Cleveland hospital, with bleeding and swelling behind the eye as well as blurred vision. The discomfort plagued him for most of the next two years.

Titus said...

Troop, Red Sox are a mess, especially right now against the hated Yanks.

Phil 3:14 said...

In 2001, Brown sued the league for $200 million, saying the flag incident prematurely ended his career. According to reports, he settled for a sum between $15 million and $25 million in 2002.

Brown came out of retirement in 2003 to play for the Ravens, and as a blocker he became an integral part of running back Jamal Lewis’s 2,066-yard rushing season. Brown started 35 games before retiring in 2005.


So it didn't end his career. Did he give the money back?

I too recall this episode well. The ref was devastated by the incident.

The article doesn't state a cause of death.

EDH said...

When the referee Jeff Triplette tossed his flag, weighted with BBs, it struck Brown in the right eye, missing his helmet’s face guard.

You'll shoot your eye out, kid.

BTW, Peter "Ralphie" Billingsly turned 40 last April.

Curious George said...

"Ann Althouse said...
His behaved badly, suddenly. It ended his career. And then he died when he was 40."

It did not end his career. He sat out one season, played the next, and then came out of retirement to pay two more.

AA: "You don't think his whole life was altered by the incident?" Well, it happened when he was 29 so since I actually think, and think deeply, "no".

AA: "Maybe not, but that's how I read it, influenced by the fact that he died young." Maybe not? Definitely not. See above.

AA: "I tend to fill out the facts in my imagination the way I would appropriate the story if I wanted to write a novel."

CG: "Orlando Brown, injured in a freak flag accident, after a great NFL career earning him fame and fortune, and with a multi-million dollar settlement from the NFL, retired to a life of banging supermodels. "It's the best thing that ever happened to me" said the five time Pro-Bowler."

Me too, I just prefer happy endings.

G Joubert said...

fivewheels:

Rush talked about what a freakish way for a player to get injured, especially a huge lineman. Rush described the flag, how one corner is weighted with a little piece of lead or whatever, and when the ref whipped it out and tossed it, the corner with the weight went straight into Brown's face, past the faceguard, and hit him squarely in the eye. Rush thought the ref was trying to be too dramatic and there really isn't a need for the refs to put on a little show when they throw a flag.

Fred4Pres said...

Brown wanted the refs to drop the penalty bag, but could not drop the issue.

fleetusa said...

AA said "...I guess I'm lazy"

AA is certainly not lazy. This blog is a constant source of intelligent entertainment for me reminding me often of my favorite law professors at NYU.

Joe said...

Just to be clear; in a sport where players pummel each other, causing brain and bodily injuries, people are outraged that a penalty flag was thrown, not dropped?

Joe said...

Announcer: The lineman hit the quarterback, breaking his leg in two places.

Other announcer: Hold it, a penalty flag was just placed on the ground.

Announcer: But it was placed on the field!

Other announcer: The referees referee just placed a penalty flag in the parking lot and the referee has been ejected from the game!

traditionalguy said...

Myth making is a good thing to help interaction around the family table.

The Beowulf tale is an early one that still resonates in English.

I stopped at Buckhead Barnes and Noble this PM, and was amazed at the numbers of American and other ethnic mixtures hanging out there, all very literate and alert.

Ralph L said...

His erratic behavior makes me wonder if he had some sort of brain injury
Or 'roid rage.

Is Letrell Spreewell still playing?

Browndog said...

Saw it when it happened-

How the League behaved in light of the incident opened my eyes, as it closed his-forever.

Pisses me off-

m stone said...

Just to be clear; in a sport where players pummel each other, causing brain and bodily injuries, people are outraged that a penalty flag was thrown, not dropped?

I think Joe says it all.

Tyrone Slothrop said...

Football has a way of shortening lives. Head trauma, steroids, you name it. One of the worst after effects is when ex-players maintain the same eating habits as when they were in training. My brother played college ball with a Samoan guy who played at 6'7" and 360 lbs. He weighed 550 when he died at 36.

Sixty Grit said...

Big guys die young, sometimes. Big guys with brain damage are even more likely to die young.

What is the average life span of an NFL player?

EDH said...

Jason, sorry about that, commented before I read the thread.

Chip S. said...

The nitwit who threw the beanbag into Brown's face rose to the rank of referee (crew chief) in the NFL. In a survey of head coaches in 2008, he ranked next-to-last.

Watching Triplette's ascent probably didn't help Brown's cardiovascular system.

Browndog said...

It ended his career.

Period.

Big Mike said...

Referee Jeff Triplette was showboating. He should have been canned by the NFL the day after the incident was reviewed.

fivewheels said...

Just to be clear; in a sport where players pummel each other, causing brain and bodily injuries, people are outraged that a penalty flag was thrown, not dropped?

Yes, because throwing it into the guy's eye was clearly not necessary. Because throwing it toward the guy's face is not a natural part of the game. Because throwing it toward his face was grandstanding. Because the whole thing was clearly avoidable. Because injuries incurred during regular play are not so easily avoidable.

G Joubert: Thanks.

traditionalguy said...

Why was he not covered by Worker's Compensation suit exclusion? Is the League not his employer here?

He is under contract to a member team of the League.

SteveR said...

There are some penalties which accrue from the spot of the infraction, false starts are from the line of scrimmage, no need to throw it. Especially at the most crowded part of the field of play.

Michael Haz said...

I'd bet that the autopsy will include heart disease as a factor contributing to his death. It happens to former NFL linemen - remember Reggie White?

One of my wife's colleagues died in his early 40s. He couldn't sleep one night, got out of bed and went into the living room. He died sitting in an easy chair

The MD who performed the autopsy told the family that the cause of death was informally called "weight lifters heart" and it was common among former college and pro football players.

My wife's colleague had been a starting lineman on a Big 10 football team while in college.

Psychedelic George said...

Went to a college game today.

The QB was blindsided from behind as he released the pass. Looked as though he was hit on the neck.

He went down and stayed down...not moving...for about 10-15 minutes before he was carried off on a body board.

Rough game that football.

Lem said...

"They’re still throwing them in there... I wish he just would have dropped it, that’s all."

In the words of American philosopher Donald Rumsfeld "Shit happens"

Quaestor said...

Yes, football is a rough game. And anyone who signs on for the duration does so with his eyes open, so to speak. The risk of life-changing injury, and even death, is real and ever-present, so I don't buy the "I clobbered the ref 'cause my dad went blind" excuse. The penalty flag in the eye was purely an accident, but the shoving to the ground was purely intentional and ought to have been punished.

Death at 40 is sad, and I would offer condolence to his family if I knew them.

G Joubert said...

Quaestor @11:00

Nah. The ref was being a hotdog. How would you react, if you were a multi-million dollar a year athlete injured by a pisant hanger on who whipped a chunk of lead into your eye? I'm betting Brown knew immediately this was a serious injury, an injury that was going to at the very least cost him serious playing time, and an injury sustained for no reason whatsoever other than the rank negligence and obliviousness of the ref. And he reacted accordingly. Again, how would you react?

A. Shmendrik said...

Look, the reported $25M was the greenback poultice applied to soothe the forced time-out in his career. Consider the alternative - how hard would he have to work and how much injury exposure would he have had at his normal compensation level to earn $25M?

Quaestor said...

The ref was being a hotdog.

If Jeff Triplette hit Brown in the eye deliberately, he's a better athlete than Brown ever was. If anybody was a "hotdog" it was Brown. Perhaps he thought "I'm a 300-pound badass millionaire. I can pummel anyone I wish and get away with it just because." Was that analysis over the top? Yes, it was. Just like your whole argument.


And he reacted accordingly.

Bullshit. Reacted accordingly if Brown had the composure of the average chimp. But he was a man, and I for one expect gentlemanly behavior from every man, nor do I make exceptions for "badass" millionaires.

Again, how would you react?

I hope I would take it like a man, and not like an ill-mannered overgrown child.

Quaestor said...

...an injury sustained for no reason whatsoever other than the rank negligence and obliviousness of the ref.

The NFL has procedures to deal with accusations like this. That is the proper forum. The players know this. It's in their contracts. They know that even touching a ref, judge or umpire can get them suspended, on even banned. Brown had a very foolish moment. That's the most generous interpretation I can give.

Eric said...

A lot of these pro football players die early. Better living and playing through chemistry, self-destructive behaviors...and all that...

360 pound guys die young. Even over a 6'7" frame that's a lot for a mortal heart to keep in motion.

Though it's true steroids are bad for your arteries.

Fred4Pres said...

Quaestor, he got banned, got reinstated and managed to get an approximately $25 million settlement from the NFL.

I am not justifying his hitting the ref, but he had to have some compelling argument to win that money. But what does it matter now? His kids get it but he is gone.

Quaestor said...

Fred:

Not necessarily, the 25 megabucks was a settlement. Who knows what calculations went in to that choice? I wouldn't wager that Triplette's culpability figured strongly in their deliberations.

The NFL ought not to tolerate thuggery by its players, coaches, owners, or officials. That the league does in fact turn a blind eye on such behavior is not an argument that it ought do.

You are right that it doesn't matter now he's passed on, but Joubert's macho sophistry got my back up.

René said...

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anything to say about this?

http://youtu.be/YnZK-AM8mV4

René said...

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About laws....any comment of this?

http://youtu.be/YnZK-AM8mV4

Steve Koch said...

I've read (more than one place) that the average life expectancy for an NFL lineman is 52 years. Getting huge is not good for our long term health. Steroids are also not good for your long term health and many NFL players used to use steroids.

The penalty flag accident probably had nothing to do with this guy's early death. It was an unfortunate accident but he was fairly compensated and did resume his career. At the time of his death he was a still working with an NFL team as a part time coach so he did not burn his bridges when he hit the referee.

I don't blame him for hitting the referee.

george said...

How is it a man wins millions for an accident ending his playing career and then doesn't have to give the money back when he resumes that career?

junyo said...

Brown didn't simply return and shove Triplette; Triplette prevented Brown from re-entering the game after his injury timeout, which is when he was shoved.

If Jeff Triplette hit Brown in the eye deliberately, he's a better athlete than Brown ever was.

Or he was careless and the people around him unlucky. The next season, Triplette hit a Jags cornerback in the helmet with a flag, from 15 yards. One would think that after blinding a man one would be more careful.