BROOKSVILLE, Fla. — Jerome Brown, star defensive lineman for the Philadelphia Eagles, was killed Thursday when the sports car he was driving skidded out of control after leaving a car dealership in his Florida hometown, police said.
Brooksville Police Chief Ed Tincher said Brown's 12-year-old nephew also was killed in the single-car accident. The name of the passenger was not immediately released.
The chief said further details on the accident would not be released until today. Earlier, he told reporters at the scene that Brown, 27, was leaving a Chevrolet dealer about 5 p.m. EDT when his Corvette skidded and flipped over on a rain-slicked road off U.S. 41.
Brown was born and raised in Brooksville and spent his off-season there.
The 6-foot-2, 295-pound tackle anchored the Eagles' defensive line. He went to the Pro Bowl the past two seasons.
"This is a devastating loss to his family, his friends, his community and obviously to this football team," Eagle General Manager Harry Gamble said. "He was warm and caring. He was a special person."
Known for his flamboyance, Brown symbolized the outlaw image of the Eagles during Buddy Ryan's tenure. He spent all of last season's training camp holding out, but when he returned with a contract worth more than $1 million with incentives, he gave his new coach, Rich Kotite, a hug as he headed for the field for the Eagles' first game.
The Eagles took Brown as the ninth draft pick in 1987 after he was an All-American at Miami.
Brown was known for his humor and pranks in the locker room and for his kindness off the field, volunteering to work with children in Philadelphia and starting a football camp this year in his hometown.
"This football team is obviously devastated because of this loss," Kotite said. "Everybody who met him was touched. He certainly touched me. It hasn't quite sunken in yet."
Fellow tackle Mike Golic fought back tears.
"At this point you don't give a damn about football. We lost a great friend," Golic said. "His attitude was the attitude of the Eagles--trash-talking and hard-hitting. It went back all the way to Buddy Ryan."
Ryan, reached in Los Angeles, said the Eagles will miss Brown's leadership.
"He was the best defensive lineman in the league," Ryan said. "He wound them (the Eagles) up on game day.
"I went down and drafted him because he was our kind of player," Ryan said. "He was a personable young man. The first night he came to Philly he went to an event with us against the cruelty of animals. That's the kind of person he is."
Brown recorded 150 tackles and nine sacks last year. He had 547 tackles and 29 sacks in his six-year pro career.
Last year, after stories emerged about drinking and womanizing during Ryan's tenure, Brown spent most of his off-season in Orlando undergoing a reconditioning program.
A one-time prep All-America at Hernando High in Brooksville, Brown remained active in local community affairs, despite maintaining a home in Cherry Hill, N.J., much of the year.
He helped raised money in 1988 for an 11-year-old girl who was in a coma after an automobile accident in Brooksville. Two years ago, he stood in defiance with others in the black community at a Ku Klux Klan rally in his hometown.
In the spring of 1990, Brown pulled a trucker from the cab of an overturned vehicle and then, on a night off from training camp, was at his New Jersey home when he saved a neighboring family by alerting them to a house fire.
Brown was a finalist for the Outland Trophy, which goes to the nation's top college lineman, in 1986.