In sports, there is a term known as “contract year.” When an athlete is playing in the final year of his current deal and then has a huge season, they usually get overpaid for their talent.
Adrian Beltre has cashed in on this twice now in his career.
However, we have never heard of a “contract game.” Not the term at least. But it should always be associated with Larry Brown.
In Super Bowl XXX (we hate the Roman numerals, just tell us the year. It was the 1995 Super Bowl, played in 1996) Larry Brown became the only cornerback to be named Super Bowl MVP. He had two interceptions and the Cowboys won.
Problem is, Brown was in a “contract year.” And he parlayed his performance into a “contract game.”
He picked off two passes from a mediocre quarterback (Neil O’Donnell) and those INT’s set up a pair of Cowboys touchdowns.
Thus, he was named Super Bowl MVP in one of the weakest awards ever given. (Tom Brady being named MVP in the Patriots’ first Super Bowl win during their era of dominance also comes to mind. Brady was 16 of 27 for 145 yards and a touchdown in the upset of the Rams in
Super Bowl XXXVI the 2002 Super Bowl. 145 yards wins you MVP? Wow.)
You know why Neil O’Donnell was throwing to that side of the field? Because Hall of Famer Deion Sanders was covering the other side!
Because Larry Brown happened to be in the right place at the right time, Al Davis came calling and gave him $12.5 million over five years.
Nowadays, that doesn’t sound like that bad of a contract for a decent cornerback. But this was 15 years ago. And, even in the last year of his deal, Brown was making $3 million! You know who makes $3 million this season in the NFL? How’s this for a list of names: Hines Ward, Cedric Benson, Matt Birk, Kevin Walter, Matt Hasselback, Bryant McKinnie, Marques Colston and a bunch of others.
Look, I’m not complaining that Larry Brown cashed in. If you’re going to have two picks in a game, might as well make it the Super Bowl. It was just another poor contract in a long line of them coming from Al Davis. Hell, I’d love to have a fantastic day of work and have some company call me and offer me an over-the-top contract. Sure, I’ll move to Oakland.
Al Davis: Hi, this is Al Davis, owner of the Oakland Raiders. I really liked how you fired off those emails. And that work on the Excel spreadsheet? Dynamite. Your speed in typing and in your work really shows and you know how I love speed. You just had a pretty decent year capped off by a ‘contract day.’ How would you like to join our team? I’ll offer you a five-year deal worth $12.5 million and I’ll release you in two years. How’s that sound?
Me: Sounds like you’re an idiot, but where do I sign?
The fact is, Larry Brown was not that good of a cornerback. Serviceable? Yes. A starter on the Cowboys since he was a rookie? Yes. Good? Yes. Great? No. Super Bowl MVP worthy? No.
After his Super Bowl MVP, Brown played in 16 games – over the next three seasons! He played in just 12 the next two years in Oakland and then played in four after he went back to the Cowboys.
According to pro-football-reference.com, Brown is similar in his career to these players: Warren Livingston, Fletcher Smith, Jimmy Burson, James Washington, Earlie Thomas, Corey Raymond, D.J. Johnson, Elbert Kimbrough, Madieu Williams, Patrick Allen.
How many of them have you heard of?
And that’s exactly why Larry Brown is our Random Pro of the Week.