Gary Brown, one of Williamsport’s all-time football greats, passed away Sunday night after a battle with cancer. He was 52 years old and survived by his wife, Kim, his son, Tre, and his daughters, Malena and Dorianna.
Brown was a remarkable running back and track and field athlete at Williamsport and went on to play football under Joe Paterno at Penn State. After becoming the Millionaires’ all-time leading rusher, he would lead the Nittany Lions in rushing in 1988. He was selected by the Houston Oilers in the 1991 NFL Draft in the eighth round with the 214th selection. He played in the NFL for eight years, and had a breakout season in 1993 when he ran for 1,002 yards and six touchdowns in just eight games.
“Gary Brown had a big heart partnered with a big smile and a big personality. His energy and spirit were infectious, ” Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement on Sunday. “He lit up every room he walked into and touched the lives of those who knew him in such a positive way. Everyone who knew him, loved him. He meant so much to the players he coached and the coaches he coached with.
“His love for his family, football and life was evident every day. He continued to fight, and he never gave up. ”
Following his time with Houston, he played for one season with the San Diego Chargers in 1997 and then had a 1,000-yard season with the New York Giants in 1998 (1,063) and ran for 945 with San Diego. Brown retired after the 1999 season with 4,300 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns between 1991-99.
Brown ascended throughout the college ranks as a coach after his retirement from the NFL. He coached at Lycoming as a running backs coach from 2003-05 before becoming Susquehanna’s offensive coordinator from 2006-07. He then became a running backs coach at Rutgers in 2008 before making it to the NFL. After coaching in the NFL from 2009-19, Brown became a running backs coach for one season in 2021 at Wisconsin.
“I am deeply saddened by Gary’s passing. Though he was only on our staff for a year he had a profound impact on our players and our program. We are all better people for having known Gary, ” Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said in a statement on Sunday night. “He was a tremendous person, a terrific coach and a joy to be around. He had great energy and passion for life and that showed every day. My deepest condolences go out to his wife, Kim, his children Malena and Dorianna and Tre, and his entire family, his friends and everyone who loved him. ”
During that span with Dallas, Brown coached DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott, both of whom led the league in rushing. He also coached Darren McFadden who ran for 1,000 yards in 2015. Under Brown, Dallas averaged at least 4.5 yards per carry each season.
“Great Father, Husband, Coach, and Mentor. Appreciate you and your family more than anything GB, ” Murray tweeted on Sunday. “Thank you for teaching me the way in the field and in life. Enjoy Gary Brown. ”
Prior to coaching Dallas, Brown was a coach with the Cleveland Browns from 2009-12.
“We mourn the passing of Gary Brown, a great man who played for Big Blue for two years – including a 1,000-yard season in 1998. Once a Giant, always a Giant,” the New York Giants said in a team statement on Sunday.
Williamsport Mayor Derek Slaughter shared this on his social media, “As most everyone knows by now, Williamsport lost another pillar in our community. This one really hits home as Gary was my cousin. Gary left us much too soon. However, he gave us a lifetime of memories both on and off the field. He lit up every room he entered with his million dollar smile and his quick wit. Gary was extremely generous throughout the years while wanting little to no recognition for his generosity. ”