Brown's Long Journey

Les Brown

Rookie tight end Les Brown's unusual journey from college basketball player to accountant to trying to make the Dolphins roster was featured on the premiere episode of "Hard Knocks" Tuesday night. Brown also was the subject of this feature story from The Associated Press.

DAVIE, Fla. (AP) — Never mind that Miami rookie Les Brown hasn't played competitive football since 2005.

Never mind that he played college basketball instead and recently worked for an equity firm.

While Brown has impressed his Dolphins' teammates and coaches by making it to training camp, that's not good enough for the tight end.

''Every day I wake up and I thank the Lord for this opportunity,'' Brown said. ''But at the end of the day, I've got to be out here and I can't look at it as some big dream. I'm here, I have to work hard and play hard.''

The Dolphins (No. 27 in the AP Pro32) signed Brown in April after he took part in the Pro Day at Brigham Young University, where two of his brothers play football.

He trained in Hawaii along with 11 other NFL hopefuls and wowed scouts with a performance that included a 4.43 in the 40-yard dash, an impressive speed for someone listed at 6-foot-4, 245 pounds.

The trick is turning that athletic ability into production on the field.

''This is kind of a brave new world for him,'' Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said. ''You could probably watch a couple of plays and say, `Boy this guy doesn't fit in.' Conversely, you could watch a couple of plays and think he's a five-year veteran. So I think there's a little bit of both.''

Clearly, Brown is a longshot to make the Dolphins' 53-man roster.

He was listed fifth among the five tight ends on the team's first depth chart, behind veteran Anthony Fasano, Charles Clay, Jeron Mastrud and rookie third-round pick Michael Egnew.

But Brown isn't conceding anything.

''I give myself a shot,'' Brown said. ''To get to this point, no one believed in me. Maybe family and close friends thought I had a shot. But I'm going to keep doing what I did to get here and that's work hard and believe in myself.

''I don't have control over the decisions the coaches make, but I'm going to bring my `A' game every day, work hard, stay after practice and work on the little things, and hopefully they'll notice that and give me a shot.''

Brown last played football seven years ago when he was a high school senior in Utah. He played basketball at nearby NAIA Westminster College.

''These guys aren't going to take it easy on me because I'm a basketball player or I was an accountant or whatever,'' he said. ''Every day I've got to strap it up just like my teammates and play hard.''

Brown wouldn't be the first former basketball player without college football experience to play in the NFL. Eight-time Pro Bowl selection Antonio Gates and second-year Denver tight end Julius Thomas accomplished the feat.

Nor would Brown be the first player to make it to the NFL after working at a regular job. Dolphins teammate Cameron Wake worked as a personal trainer and mortgage broker before he got a shot in the CFL in 2007 that led to his NFL career.

Coming out of high school, Brown was more highly recruited in football than basketball. He said Brigham Young, Oregon, Washington State and Colorado State were interested in him as a football player, while it was mostly Ivy League schools that wanted him to play basketball.

''Honestly, I never really saw myself pursuing professional athletics,'' Brown said. ''I was always more into school. I played sports and I had a fun time. I always thought that I'd be some big-time businessman working on Wall Street.

''The place I went to school is a great private school, great education, so I just figured I'd go there and get my degree in finance and then just kind of move on with my life and be able to play basketball at the same time, but be able to focus on academics first and foremost.''

Fittingly, Fasano has given Brown the nickname of ''Gekko'' after the Michael Douglas character in the movie ''Wall Street.''

Brown spent two years working for Huntsman Gay Global Capital, but he said he was far from being Gordon Gekko. Instead, he said he was doing odd jobs.

At some point, Brown figured he should give professional sports a shot.

''My wheels were spinning a little bit,'' Brown said. ''I always kind of wondered, `what if?' ''

Brown is raw when it comes to football fundamentals, but that's offset by athletic ability and a willingness to learn.

''He has come a long way since spring,'' said quarterback Matt Moore. ''That's a crazy story, and the guy obviously is extremely talented physically.

''He knows he's here to work hard and do those things, but like anybody else he has never blocked a guy like Cam Wake or something like that, which is difficult for a seasoned vet. So for a guy that was doing whatever he was doing last year to come in and at least attempt to do it is a huge thing.''

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