“Those who demonstrate their best in sports recognize something bigger than themselves,” said Westmont basketball coach Kirsten Moore at Providence Hall’s Heart of a Champion night, which also featured keynote speaker Tim Brown, famed football star known as “Mr. Raider.” This was among the messages that attendees took away from the Thursday night event.
Brown gave the Raiders 16 years of positive energy during which the team made it to numerous playoff appearances. Brown focused his speech on his abstinence from alcohol and the father who led him to make that decision.
Asleep on the couch as a 13-year-old, Brown awoke to his inebriated father coming home from work at a nightclub. Startled and convinced that his son intended to assault him, Brown’s father ran out of the house to swipe his gun from the back of his truck. Luckily Brown’s father never found the gun. “After that incident I thought, ‘If alcohol will make you want to take your own son out, I’m never going to touch it,’” Brown said.
Temptation followed Brown into college and the NFL, but he maintained his stand against alcohol and drugs. He said he played better football because of his choice: He won the Heisman Trophy while at Notre Dame. He wanted people to know that it’s still possible for professional athletes to remain clean on and off the field.
“I didn’t degrade my body,” Brown said. “I played football. That was enough.”
Brown’s road to the college championship hall of fame and his NFL experience differs much from the Raider Nation that now reigns. Raider fans have seen everything from players charged with DUI citations to players accused of beating people with mops. Needless to say, their activity off the field appears to have affected their game on the field. The Raiders haven’t appeared in the playoffs since 2002, and finishing with a 5-11 record this past season, the Raiders left fans to yet again hang their heads low.
One of those fans, George Gomez, traveled from Carpinteria to Santa Barbara to hear Brown speak. The ultimate Raider fan, Gomez illustrates his love for the Raiders through numerous silver and black tattoos plastered across his arms and back. Gomez said his family dealt with some tough times this year and that Brown’s speech moved him.
“It lets you know there are football legends out there who care,” Gomez said.
Gomez, like many Raider fans, hopes this upcoming football season will bring victory back to the Raider Nation. With new picks from this year’s NFL draft, the Raiders can hopefully restore the energy that Brown once brought to the team and achieve what many fans have wanted for so long.
“I’ve been waiting for what I’ve wanted since I was a kid,” Gomez said. “A Super Bowl win.”