1. Archive

Celebrate hero from Hernando

Published Sep. 27, 2005

Jerome Brown weekend to be full of NFL stars and good deeds.

In a weekend that will commemorate the late NFL star Jerome Brown, it will be hard to miss his legend in Brooksville.

The Jerome Brown Community Center has its grand opening tonight, sponsored by the Jerome Brown Youth Foundation. Saturday brings the Jerome Brown Family Fun Day, followed by the Jerome Brown Golf Classic and, finally, a musical performance by the Jerome Brown Community Choir.

It has been nearly eight years since Brown was killed in an automobile accident in Brooksville, ending the career of a defensive tackle recognized by the Times last year as the county's best football player ever.

The former Hernando High standout held the first Jerome Brown Football Clinic in 1992, with his friends and teammates from the NFL taking time to work with the city's future football stars. For the first year since that first clinic, there will be no football camp this summer, though the weekend is hardly short on activities.

"It's basically just a name change," said Tim Jenkins, a member of the youth foundation's board who has helped organize this weekend's events. "During the Family Fun Day, the players will be doing football things and speaking and still working with the kids. We just wanted to get the families involved this year."

Several current and former NFL players also will play in the charity golf tournament Saturday. More than 20 foursomes had registered by Thursday afternoon, and organizers said they expect more walk-up entrants on Saturday.

Jenkins said there have been at least 10 NFL players in town every year, and he expects the same this weekend. Former Eagles teammates Keith Jackson, Clyde Simmons, Andre Waters, Byron Evans and Seth Joyner are scheduled to be in town, and Jenkins said each year brings a few surprise appearances.

"A lot of the players have contributed to make this center possible, so I think a lot of them want to see what they've worked for," Jenkins said of the new community center in the Tom Varn Park Recreational Complex just west of downtown. "I think it's beautiful, and it's something they can all be proud of. There are a lot of cities around here that would love to have that many NFL players stop by each year."

Jenkins said that Pro Bowl defensive lineman Cortez Kennedy, one of the center's more generous sponsors, is hoping to attend, and even Pro Bowl receiver Cris Carter might be able to fly in.

The center would not be possible without the donations of not only players, but more than 100 donors whose gifts, ranging from $100 to more than $5,000, have helped fund its construction.

Brown won't be the only person with his name on the center, however, and the NFL players competing in Saturday's free-throw contest likely won't be the only ones putting up bricks. For $25, you can purchase an engraved brick to be laid in a special area outside the center.