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Up Close With Larry Brown: A conversation about fatherhood and life after the game

By Van Adams, Player Engagement Insider

In celebration of Father’s Day, we profiled a few NFL Legends to see what they have been up to since retiring from the NFL. This ‘”Up Close With” series delves into the fatherhood aspect of their lives, with particular emphasis on Legends and their daughters, and granddaughters.

Known to be formidable competitors on the football field during their playing careers, the Legends profiled for this series share sentiments on fatherhood revealing a side many outside of their homes rarely, if ever, get to see with candor and transparency. Each one beaming with pride as they talk about all of their children and grandchildren.

Larry Brown was the starting cornerback for all three of the Dallas Cowboys’ Super Bowl championships in the 1990s. He made two game-changing interceptions during Super Bowl XXX that earned him MVP honors, making him the first and only cornerback and the second defensive back to do so since 1973 (Jake Scott, Miami Dolphins).


The Cowboys selected Brown from Texas Christian University (TCU) in the 12th round (which no longer exists today) of the 1991 NFL Draft. Only twenty-one years old at the time, he holds the distinction of being the youngest player ever drafted by the Cowboys.                       

After retiring from professional football, Brown, who studied broadcast communications at TCU, stayed close to football. He answered the call from ESPN to work on College Gameday Radio for a few years before reuniting with the Cowboys where he is currently a member of the pre and post-game broadcast teams.

“I knew I wanted to do something in the business of broadcasting, but I never thought about being in front of the camera,” said Brown, who grew up in Los Angeles. “As a broadcast major at TCU, they taught us how to work production, editing, and all of those things. “Initially I would be invited on different shows as a guest and they kept inviting me back. I don't see myself as guy in front of the camera. I see myself as is an information provider. When you are watching a sports broadcast, people want you to tell them something they don’t know.”

In addition to broadcasting, Brown operates Metroplex Select Youth Sports, one of the largest youth football leagues in the Dallas-Fort Worth area for kids ages six to18.

Texas is where Brown and his wife Cheryl, a real estate broker who also attended TCU, call home.  The couple has been married for 24 years and has three children, daughters Kristen, 22, a senior at Baylor; Kaylah, 17, a high school senior who plans to attend Duke next year; and one son, Kameron, 15, a high school sophomore. 

More from Larry Brown on fatherhood:

On the moment he learned he would become a father for the first time.

I was young, so it was scary. Yet I was excited and nervous. We didn't know if was going to be a girl or boy. Kristen was born prematurely; she weighed 2lbs 3oz. at birth, which added a little more drama to every thing. She’s turned out to be an incredible young lady; incredibly bright and very artistic.  Back then we weren’t too concerned with the gender of the baby, I just wanted to be sure my wife and the baby were healthy. We didn't know the gender of the next two kids (Kaylah and Kameron) either until they were born.

On parenting in a new millennium.

In today’s times, it’s tough for these kids.  There are a lot of pressures out there today that we didn't have. Every generation likes to preach about how their parents were back in the day, but we didn't have Facebook, we didn't have cell phones, we didn't have instant information. There was a time when TV went off at night and the National Anthem came on.  I think television actually grows kids up a lot more today. So to see them make the right decisions and be good students and have a relationship with God and be good people is very rewarding.

On parenting girls.

You worry about the girls more. There’s much more emotion involved. When your son is driving home at night by himself, you just know he’s going to make it and be all right. But with the girls, you worry and hope she doesn't get a flat tire and not know how to handle it.  You worry if she will meet the wrong knucklehead dude and think she’s in love. Not that you don’t worry about your son in these ways, but it’s a little different with your daughters particularly as it relates to dating boys.

Today it’s popular to be a “baby momma”, and as a father you really hope your daughters understand the structure of family and that is not necessarily cool to take that path. You don't want them to raise kids without a father who really loves and cares about them. With girls you tend to worry about these things a little more.

On self-respect.

As a father you want your girls to grow up to be respectable young women. As my daughters and a few girls I mentor are going off to college, I tell them, “You’re coming in with a good name, make sure you leave with one.” Respect and protect your name. Know who you are, what you believe in and don't compromise for anyone else. I don't want them in situations where they are settling and getting into situations that may not be good for them because they are emotionally lonely. I want my girls to understand their reputations mean everything.

The bonding moments.

We spend a lot of time together.  There were father-daughter dances with the girls, we go out to eat and to the movies. Because I work a lot with sports and Kaylah and Kameron are into sports they would go everywhere with me. My oldest, Kristen, wasn’t into sports, but she would still want to go on the road trips to the track meets and football games and hang out. 

On the importance of good decision-making.

I’ve always tried to help my kids to think for themselves and process information. You have to know who you are; you have to know what you believe in and what your values are. If you don't know these things, you will take on the personalities of other people.

People tend to talk at kids. I try to talk with them and not at them so they can understand things. I talk to my kids more about understanding the decision-making process as opposed to just telling them to, ”Don’t do this” or “Don't do that.” No one is perfect. Everyone will make a bad decision here or there. You just hope it’s not so bad that it changes the course of their life. As a parent, I want to help them minimize what I consider detrimental decisions. Those decisions you can’t come back from. 

Advice to new dads on fatherhood.

Be honest with your kids and be realistic. You want your kids to make their own decisions but at the same time you want to help them learn how to think things through.

Van Adams is an award-winning entrepreneur and small business owner with expertise in sports business and business development. Over the last decade, she has represented a number of iconic sports celebrities and executed marketing campaigns for their personal celebrity and/or business ventures. An advocate for women in business, Van is the creator and producer of Gathering on the Greens, a women’s golf initiative, and serves as President of the Board of Directors for the NYC Metro Chapter of Women in Sports and Events where she oversees programming and strategy. Van spends her spare time in a test kitchen baking or on a golf course working on her short game.

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