November 12, 2011; College Park, MD, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish team debuts their new helmet design prior to the game against the Maryland Terrapins at FedEx Field. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

EXCLUSIVE: 1-on-1 with Tim Brown of Notre Dame and the Oakland Raiders


EA Sports released their NCAA 14 video game less than a month ago, one of the new features for the video game is the “Ultimate Team.” That feature, in the NCAA franchise for the first time, allows fans to play with more than 1,400 former college football legends.

One of the legends being included in the game is the 1987 Heisman Trophy winner from Notre Dame, Tim Brown. The wide receiver went on to have a remarkable NFL career with the Oakland Raiders that included nine Pro Bowl trips and one Super Bowl trip. Brown was also named to the NFL 1990s All-Decade Team.

Mike Dyce: How big of an honor is it to be a part of the of the Ultimate Team in NCAA 14?

Tim Brown: “I’ll tell you, it’s really, really a big deal. I have a 10-year-old son that loves these games and always has his friends over. So if this game would have come out and I wouldn’t have been in it, I would have been answering questions forever about why I’m not involved. So for me, I can stick my chest out for a little bit at least for another year, right? And see what happens.”

MD: So how exciting is it for your son to have you in the game?

TB: “For him it is super exciting. He hears a lot of stuff, being 10-years-old, I think he was about to turn two [years-old] when I announced that I was going to retire. He wasn’t really able to really enjoy going to the games and all that kind of stuff. When he is in the midst of me being inducted into the Bay Area Hall of Fame, about a month and a half ago. He was there, seeing all the highlights and hearing the people talk and his eyes were as big as silver dollars. He is definitely eating all this stuff up, but so far he is eating it all up in a good way. He is a pretty cool kid right now because his Dad is in this game.”

MD: Do you play a lot of NCAA 14 with him?

TB: “Man, no, he is too good. I’m usually trying to go against him. I don’t even want to put the controllers in my hand. I got my nephew, who is 17, and he can’t beat him either, but I’m trying to help him with play calling and that kind of stuff. But right now, he is the king of the castle at 10-years-old with the game.”

MD: I feel like the more realistic they make video games the worse I get.

TB: “Right?” (Laughs)

MD: Moving on, how do you think Notre Dame will do this season? Do you think they’ll be able to repeat the kind of success they had last year?

TB: “Well Mike, one of the things that I’ve been saying, even before all this stuff happened with Golson, is that Notre Dame can have a great year this year, playing better football than what they played last year, and end up 10-2. The fact of the matter is we had some balls that bounced our way last year. If that doesn’t happen this year you could play good football, better football, and end up losing a couple of games. Now with Golson being gone, now it becomes a locker room deal. How does everyone feel about Golson being gone? Do we have everybody on the same page? Are enough guys on the same page? Are we split? What is the issue here? I don’t know what that is, but if everybody is on the same page, whether they don’t like it or do like it, as long as they’re on the same page about it I think they can go out and still have a really good football team.”

“Tommy Rees is a guy that is quite capable of playing good football for them and I know they have some other quarterbacks that can come in and do a little bit of what Golson did. Obviously not on the same level because they’re not going to be playing as many snaps, but to change the pace a little bit, I think they can get that done. Not knowing the intangible right now, and that is how does everyone feel about Golson not being there, if they’re on the same page with that I think they have a really good shot at going out and having a good football team this year.”

MD: Do you think the new 4-team playoff for the National Championship is good for college football and Notre Dame?

TB: “I think it is a great thing for college football. Obviously if Notre Dame can play the type of football they’ve played the past couple years it’ll be a good thing for them too. Their name will be there and they’ll have a shot to get in the tournament and that’s all you can ask for. You’re so sick of hearing every year the #3 and #4 complaining about not being there. I know what’s going to happen, #5 and #6 are going to start complaining about not making the tournament. I think eventually once this thing gets up to 8 teams, which I think that they almost have to do in the first 5 years of having the playoff system, you’ll be at that number. You can’t be #9 or #10 out there saying we deserve a shot to win the National Championship. I think it’s going to be pretty interesting to see how this thing evolves. I think it is the right move for college football and should be a lot of fun to watch.”

MD: Do you think as the conferences grow and add more teams with the realignment do you think it will force Notre Dame’s hand to join a conference? Or do you think they’ll be fine as an independent?

TB: “I think as long as the NCAA and all these bowl games are making their own separate agreements with Notre Dame or saying we’ll talk this conference, that conference and Notre Dame. As of right now, everyone is doing that for Notre Dame and even with the BCS. With the BCS Championship game or with the playoff system Notre Dame has been included in that and the format that they’re in now. So I think from that standpoint, no, I don’t see that happening until all these folks get together and say look, and it is going to take more than one incident to force Notre Dame to get into a conference. It’s going to be all these bowl games and the playoff system saying ‘look Notre Dame, we need you to be a part of a conference to make this thing easier for everybody.’ If they do that, than I don’t think Notre Dame would have a choice but to join a conference. But short of that, I don’t see it happening.”

MD: If they were forced to join a conference, which conference do they fit in best with?

TB: “Well, I think they’ve sort of set themselves up for the ACC at this particular point. I don’t see why they would be looking at any other conference to join. I think it’s a pretty good fit. Some of the schools down there are academically on the same level as Notre Dame or Notre Dame is academically on the same level as some of these ACC colleges. I think from that standpoint they fit in well that way and competition-wise it should be great. I know the basketball is going to be incredible for our girls and boys teams, playing the Dukes and North Carolinas of the world. That won’t be an easy task, it will be challenging for sure.”

MD: You grew up in Dallas and went to a local high school, and I’m from Dallas, so did you grow up as a Cowboys fan?

TB: “Huge. Huge Cowboys fan.”

MD: Are you still a Cowboys fan or has that changed over your time with the Raiders?

TB: “You know it changed for me when they fired Tom Landry, I was a fan for my first year and a half in the league, but when they fired Tom going into my second year. I didn’t like the way it was done and I’m in the league at the time. I can remember my rookie year when we scrimmaged the Cowboys in training camp, I couldn’t move. They came through the gate and I was just standing there. One of the boys slapped me on the back of the head and said “man, you better come on, we got to challenge these boys.” I was a huge fan but not so much anymore. I watch the Cowboys but I don’t have that same deep love for the Cowboys like I used to when I was 10 years old.”

MD: What do you think about Dez Bryant and his future and how he has improved? Do you think he will keep improving?

TB: “He certainly has the potential to keep improving but what he has to do is become a smarter football player and I’m not talking about anything off the field. On the field, you have to know when to hold them and know when to fold them. Some times, I think he is so anxious to make a play that he puts himself in a situation where he takes more shots than he needs to take. As the season goes on, those shots add up. He is a tall, slender guy and giving guys shots at your ribs and your back is not what you want to be doing. I want to see him catch a ball, and if you have two or three guys in front of you, find a way to get a couple of yards but at the same time be protecting yourself. If it’s one on one, you got to do what you got to do. So, I think if he can do that. He has the natural and physical talents to go out and play this game at a very high level. All this other stuff is a situation where he really has to protect himself.”

MD: What young wide receiver have you seen in the league that maybe hasn’t burst onto the scene that we should keep an eye out for?

TB: “If you had asked me that about 4-5 weeks ago I would’ve told you [Philadelphia Eagles WR] Jeremy Maclin. He is a guy that I was very high on and love watching him play, love watching his game. At this particular point I don’t know who that guy would be. It seems like  all the middle-aged and older guys are taking over.”

“I’ll tell you a guy who I think is going to be fantastic for the Pittsburgh Steelers: Markus Wheaton. This guy, I believe, is going to really, really light it up. I think he is going to be able to replace [Mike Wallace]. I’ve read some articles already where the Pittsburgh media is raving about his training camp and everything that he has done so far. Keep your eye on this kid. I worked out with him back in February or March and it is just incredible to see this kid run routes, catch balls and do the things that he is capable of doing. And what I like about him is that when you look at his numbers from Oregon State he was a guy that caught 92 balls for about 1,300 yards. He wasn’t one of these guys catching 50 balls for 1,000 yards, but when you catch 90 balls for 1,300 you’re putting in work.”

MD: Last question, would being elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame be a bigger honor than winning the Heisman Trophy or on the same level?

TB: “It’s hard to say that it’d be bigger. There is something about that singular success that you can say you were the only one in that year that won a trophy. Obviously the HOF is such a huge, huge deal. I have contracts signed from 5 years ago waiting to be executed. It’s just amazing how people look at the Hall of Fame. So certainly, from a business point of view, the HOF is a lot bigger but personally? Where I’m sitting in my house right now, I have the trophy built into the wall right across from my office. When I look at that bad boy and I see ’1987′ and I know that it is the only one from that year that is out there, it makes it even more special.”

MD: You’ll get that gold jacket one day.

TB: “I appreciate that man, I appreciate that.”

Tags: Dallas Cowboys Dez Bryant Jeremy Maclin Notre Dame Notre Dame Fighting Irish Oakland Raiders Popular Tim Brown