Gary Brown, a former NFL running back and running backs coach, most notably with the Dallas Cowboys, died Sunday (April 10) at the age of 52 following a battle with cancer.
"Gary Brown had a big heart partnered with a big smile and a big personality. His energy and spirit were infectious," Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said in a statement obtained by ESPN. "He lit up every room he walked into and touched the lives of those who knew him in such a positive way. Everyone who knew him, loved him. He meant so much to the players he coached and the coaches he coached with.
"His love for his family, football and life was evident each day. He continued to fight, and he never gave up."
Brown spent his nine-year NFL playing career with the Houston Oilers (1991-95), San Diego Chargers (1997) and New York Giants (1998-99) before beginning his coaching career in 2003, working as a running backs coach for Lycoming College.
The Williamsport native took over as the offensive coordinator at Susquehanna University in 2006 before later accepting the running backs coach position at Rutgers for one season in 2008.
Brown became the Cleveland Browns running backs coach in 2009 and later accepted the same position with the Cowboys in 2013.
During his seven seasons in Dallas, Brown had three different running backs record more than 1,000 yards including DeMarco Murray, Darren McFadden, and Ezekiel Elliott, with Murray (2014) and Elliott (2016, 2018) both leading the NFL in rushing yards.
"Great Father, Husband, Coach, and Mentor. Appreciate you and your family more than anything GB," Murray tweeted following news of Brown's death. "Thank you for teaching me the way on the field and in life. Appreciate you Gary Brown."
Brown served as running backs coach at the University of Wisconsin during the 2021 season but was unable to travel with the team for its Las Vegas Bowl appearance in December while undergoing cancer treatment.
"I am deeply saddened by Gary's passing," Wisconsin coach Paul Chryst said in a statement obtained by ESPN. "Though he was only on our staff for a year he had a profound impact on our players and our program. We are all better people for having known Gary. He was a tremendous person, a terrific coach and a joy to be around. He had great energy and passion for life and that showed every day."
Brown was initially diagnosed with cancer in his colon and liver during his tenure with the Browns and underwent surgery and chemotherapy to resume coaching.
Doctors found a malignant tumor near Brown's pancreas during his tenure with the Cowboys and he stopped coaching in 2020 before joining Wisconsin's staff prior to last season.
"This one hurts…rest easy coach," Wisconsin running back Braelon Allen tweeted.
Brown recorded 1,321 yards during his collegiate career at Penn State University and was selected by the Oilers in the eighth round of the 1991 NFL Draft.
Brown recorded more than 1,000 yards during two seasons, as both a member of the Oilers (1993) and Giants (1998).
"We mourn the passing of Gary Brown, a great man who played for Big Blue for two years - including a 1,000-yard season in 1998. Once a Giant, Always a Giant," the team said in a statement shared on its verified Twitter account.