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Longtime Detroit Lions player Lomas Brown talks life after retirement | Vitality: Active Seniors

Former Detroit Lions offensive tackle Lomas Brown played 18 seasons with the NFL — including 12 in Detroit — before retiring in 2002 after a Super Bowl win with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After he retired, Brown, 55, took a job as an ESPN analyst and broadcaster. He loved the gig, but after eight years in front of the camera, he was suddenly let go. That departure forced Brown to reinvent himself, and since then he has worked as an entrepreneur, mentor and philanthropist. Earlier this year he was named color analyst for the Detroit Lions radio broadcasts on WJR.

The former NFL All-Pro spoke to a packed house at the Rochester Older Persons Commission on Sept. 19 about his time before, during and after football, and also about his second act in life. Former Lions teammates Tim Walton, Maurice Harvey, and Luther Blue were there as well.

Brown offered advice to others on living out their fourth quarters, including setting goals, being open minded to new challenges, and surrounding yourself with successful people.

He also answered about a dozen questions ranging from how much food he eats (he’s 6-foot-4 and 282 pounds), to concussions and the health consequences of playing football. He named his favorite coaches (Wayne Fontes and Jon Gruden), and also answered a question about his opinion on the Colin Kaepernick firestorm. He said he thought Kaepernick’s narrative was hijacked and the backlash has created a mess for the NFL.


Lomas Brown poses

Brown answered several questions during his session, and also posed for photos with his fans Arnie Braver of Troy and Anna Romund of Rochester.

Brown, a Miami native, said he was forced by his high school principal to play football. A trombone player, Brown had no intention of taking the field. But the school’s principal saw Brown’s athletic potential and strongly encouraged him to join the varsity team. Brown used this lesson as an example of why it’s important to be open to new challenges at any time in life. “You have to be open to new things because you just never know,” he said. “I thought the idea of playing football sounded crazy at the time, but that decision changed my life.”

Brown accepted an athletic scholarship to attend the University of Florida after high school. He was team captain and started in 34 games. He was later inducted into the University of Florida Athletic Hall of Fame.

After college, he was drafted in the first round (sixth pick overall) in the 1985 NFL Draft by the Lions. He played in Detroit for 12 years, then went on to play with the Arizona Cardinals, the Cleveland Browns, the New York Giants and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He was on the team when they won the Super Bowl. Brown played in 263 games in his long football career. But after the NFL and ESPN, Brown, 55, said he felt lost. He had no choice but to reinvent himself. “If you want to reinvent yourself at any age at any time, you can do it,” he said.

Goal setting is important as well, but keep in mind the journey to the goal is just as important, he added. Even if you don’t make it all the way to the top or all the way to your goal, you’re going to have the satisfaction of knowing that you tried, he said.


Lomas Brown speaks

Brown said he was forced to reinvent himself after his long career with the NFL.

“We never got to the Super Bowl with the Lions, but we still bleed Honolulu Blue and Silver. We appreciate the journey. It was hard at times, but when I look back, I appreciate it.”

He said he hoped he inspired other older adults who may be thinking of reinventing themselves later in life. “Don’t let anybody tell you what you can’t do. You’re never too old to do something new. If it’s your goal, and it’s something you want to accomplish, don’t let anyone stop you,” he said.

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