Willie Jerome Brown III was a National Football League (NFL) Pro Bowl Defensive Lineman who grew up in Brooksville, where he is a local legend. He was a standout football player during his entire playing time. As a high school player he dominated with his strength and speed. He was a Parade All American in High School which is a list of top high school football players in America.
Jerome was not only a standout football player, he also excelled at baseball. Last year Ernie Chatman spoke about the 1982 Hernando High baseball team which was ranked number two in the state. The 1982 team featured well known local players Tim Sims, Eddie Looper, Jimmy Kimbrough, and Jerome Brown. Chatman recalled that Jerome Brown led the team in steals, which is impressive since Jerome weighed 250 pounds at the time.
Jerome received a number of offers from colleges and chose the University of Miami, which was a football powerhouse at the time winning the national championship in Jerome’s first year and being heavily favored, but losing a defensive struggle to Penn State in Jerome’s senior year.
Jerome Brown was chosen by the Philadelphia Eagles in the first round (ninth overall) of the 1987 NFL Draft. He played his entire career for the Philadelphia Eagles and was selected to two Pro Bowls. Jerome was a Pro Bowler the last two years he played.
Jerome was ascending as a player and the Eagles were ascending as a team. The Philadelphia defense was well known and had been nicknamed the Green Gang. Jerome’s partner on the defense was Reggie White and Reggie went on to become a Hall of Famer. If Jerome’s career had not been cut short by a tragic car accident, he would have had a good chance of becoming a Hall of Famer.
Jerome as a professional player was said to stand 6 foot 2 inches and weighed 292 pounds. Despite the bulk, Jerome was still extremely athletic.
On June 25, 1992, Jerome Brown was killed when he lost control of his ZR1 Chevrolet Corvette and hit a utility pole while traveling at a high rate of speed on Hale Avenue on a rainy day. Jerome’s 12 year old nephew, Augustus “Gus” Brown who was riding along with him was also killed. Jerome is buried in Fort Taylor Cemetery in Brooksville.
The Eagle’s retired Jerome’s number 99 jersey at the prompting of his teammates. Brooksville remembers Jerome Brown with the Jerome Brown Community Center which opened in 2000. The Community Center is located on Jerome Brown Place.
Even when Jerome was at the height of his fame and was beloved by Philadelphia fans he still considered Brooksville his home. He was a fixture at the Red Mule Pub which was owned by a friend. He was a often around Brooksville and with his size and friendly demeanor he was hard to miss.
In 1995, Tim Jinkens & Dianna Rusk Yoder set up the Jerome Brown Youth Foundation which preserves the memory of Jerome Brown through an annual scholarship program. This contribution to the Hernando County community is made possible through golf tournament corporate sponsors, hole sponsors and tournament golfers. The tournament takes place in June.
You can follow the Jerome Brown Youth Foundation on facebook: @JeromeBrownYouthFoundation