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Notre Dame Legend and Hall of Famer Ross Browner Passes Away

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The 1999 inductee starred at Notre Dame in the 1970s

Photo: National Football Foundation

Ross Browner, a 1999 College Football Hall of Fame inductee who played defensive end at Notre Dame on two Irish national championship teams, passed away Jan. 4. He was 67.

In a release from the National Football Foundation, NFF President and CEO Steve Hatchell said, ”Ross Browner was one of the nicest and classiest guys who we ever put in the College Football Hall of Fame. He’s a real credit to the game and Notre Dame. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends at this time of loss.”

One of the most decorated defensive players in the history of the game, Browner was a four-year starter for the Irish in 1973 and from 1975 to 77, earning unanimous All-American laurels his last two seasons. In 1976, he won the Outland trophy as the nation’s best interior or defensive lineman, and UPI named him their Lineman of the Year. In 1977, UPI again named him Lineman of the Year (becoming the only player to ever win the award twice), and he won the Lombardi Trophy as the nation’s best lineman and the Maxwell as the nation’s best player. In a 10-year period, 1970-79, Browner was the only lineman who won the Maxwell. In 1977, he also placed fifth in voting for the Heisman Trophy. Browner stood 6-3 in height, weighed 247 and was quick and powerful. Notre Dame had a 39-7 record in his time that covered 11-0 in 1973, 8-3 in 1975, 9-3 in 1976, and 11-1 in 1977. Notre Dame won national championships under College Football Hall of Fame coaches Ara Parseghian (1973) and Dan Devine (1977) during Browner’s tenure in South Bend. His career statistics included 340 tackles, a school record; 77 tackles for loss; 12 fumble recoveries; ten deflected passes; and two blocked kicks. He is the school record holder for career tackles by a defensive lineman, tackles for loss in a single season (28, 1976), career fumbles recovered (12) and career tackles-for-loss (77).

He also scored a touchdown and two safeties. The touchdown came Nov. 1, 1975. He blocked a Navy punt and recovered it in the end zone. His first safety was Sept. 22, 1973, against Northwestern. He blocked a punt, and the ball rolled out of the end zone. The second safety was Nov. 22, 1975, against Miami (FL). He tackled the Miami quarterback in the end zone.

Selected eighth overall in in the 1978 NFL Draft, Browner went on to play nine years with the Cincinnati Bengals and one with the Green Bay Packers.

The Warren (OH) native was born Mar 22, 1954, and he attended Western Reserve High School. Ross is survived by his wife Shayla and his two sons, Max Starks and Rylan Browner.

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About The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame

Founded in 1947 with early leadership from General Douglas MacArthur, legendary Army coach Earl “Red” Blaik and immortal journalist Grantland Rice, The National Football Foundation & College Hall of Fame is a non-profit educational organization that runs programs designed to use the power of amateur football in developing scholarship, citizenship and athletic achievement in young people. With 120 chapters and 12,000 members nationwide, NFF programs include the Chick-fil-A College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta, Future For Football, The William V. Campbell Trophy®, the NFF National Scholar-Athlete Class Presented by Fidelity Investments and a series of initiatives to honor the legends of the past and inspire the leaders of the future. NFF corporate partners include Catapult, Delta Air Lines, Fidelity Investments, Goodyear, Jostens, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, the New York Athletic Club and the Sports Business Journal. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter @NFFNetwork and learn more at footballfoundation.org.