Tim Brown proved to be everything that the Los Angeles Raiders had hoped for after selecting the Heisman Trophy winner out of Notre Dame in the first round, sixth overall, of the 1988 NFL Draft. Over the next 17 seasons, all but one year spent with the Raiders in Los Angeles and later Oakland, Brown developed into one of the greatest receivers of his era.
He managed to haul in 43 receptions and score 5 TDs as a rookie but it was as a kick returner that he received accolades. Brown was named first-team All-Pro and to the Pro Bowl after leading the NFL in kickoff returns (41 for 1,098 yards, 26.8 average, and 1 TD) and setting a rookie record for combined net yards.
Brown suffered a season-ending injury in the opener the following year. He returned in 1990 and was used mostly as a punt returner but also caught a combined 103 catches over the next three seasons. Then, in 1993, he had a breakout year as he registered 80 catches for 1,180 yards and 7 touchdowns. He followed that with back-to-back 89-catch seasons and recorded 90 receptions in 1996. All the while, he continued to be a productive punt returner for the team.
Starting in 1993, Brown recorded nine straight 1,000-yard seasons and 10 consecutive years with 75 or more catches. His best season came in 1997, a year in which he became the Raiders’ all-time receiving leader. He caught 104 catches for 1,408 yards to win the NFL receiving title. He set a team record with seven 100-yard games and tied a NFL mark with five games with 150-plus yards receiving. Brown was named to the Sporting News’ All-Pro team that season. He also enjoyed his seventh of nine Pro Bowl berths.
Brown was named first-team All-AFC six times – once as a kick returner, once as a punt returner, and four times at wide receiver. He was also named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1990s.
He retired after one final season with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2004 as the third all-time leading receiver with 1,094 receptions for 14,934 yards, and 100 touchdowns. At the time he also ranked fifth in career combined net yardage with 19,682 yards.