Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mean Hardy Brown...



















After witnessing his father's murder at close range at age four, Hardy Brown arrived at the Masonic Home with his brother and sister. He spent his entire childhood there and played football on the Mighty Mite team. He died in 1991 at age 67.

In an interview Rusty Russell recalled Hardy's transition after he left The Home. Hardy went on to become a Marine paratrooper and afterwards he wanted to fulfill his college ambitions. DeWitt Coulter, his Mighty Mite buddy, got him to come to West Point to play football with him. It didn't work out at West Point and Hardy called Mr. Russell.

Henry Frnka had been a coach at a highschool in Texas and was at that time a coach at University of Tulsa. Russell knew the kind of coach Frnka was, knew Frnka personally, and he felt Hardy would fit into Frnka's system. Russell called Frnka on Hardy's behalf. Based on his conversation with Russell, Frnka offered Hardy a scholarship. Hardy had a successful career at the University of Tulsa before entering the NFL.

When he was in Tulsa, a newspaper ran the photo above of Hardy when he played fullback at Tulsa University and was a contender for All-American. As his wife, Betty looked on, he claimed he could iron a shirt in less than two minutes. Whether he learned that at the Home or not, we can't say.

He played professionally for the San Francisco 49ers, Washington Redskins, and the Denver Broncos. He was one of only two men who played in the All-America Football Conference, the National Football League, and the American Football League.

At The Home he was surrounded by his family. Perhaps that was the best thing in his life and when thrown into the world of football, he survived as best he knew how. He would say in his pro career he had 75 - 80 knock outs and everyone was out to get him. For those who knew Hardy at The Home, he was in a place where he felt safe and no one was "out to get him".

He was named #5 of the Top Ten Most Feared Tacklers and Washington Post's Matt Schudel writing in his Post Mortem blog about the hardest hitters in football, noted that Hardy cherished his tough NFL reputation. Hardy was 6' and at 190 lbs played linebacker. Interviews with sports figures for a special on the Top Ten Tacklers thought his mean streak and violent nature was "shaped at the Masonic Home for orphans in Fort Worth Texas, a rough and tumble place" and some thought "Hardy channeled his frustrations through football and "he was going to make people pay for it". He had a special move where he threw his shoulder into opponents. "It's like a boxer, take one step forward, keep your back straight, keep your eyes forward, and ...... (pop your shoulder)....and that's it," Hardy said, showing how he does that.

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