PHILADELPHIA — Randy Brown enjoyed a short 12-mile commute to work on Monday and Tuesday.
The Ravens held joint practices with the Eagles at Philadelphia’s NovaCare Complex, meaning the team’s kicking coach was only a short drive from his home in Evesham Township, New Jersey. Baltimore’s kicking coach typically has a 125-mile commute to the Ravens’ practice facility in Owings Mills.
Brown has been on the Ravens’ staff since John Harbaugh was hired as head coach in 2008, but became a full-time coach only this year. He was limited to coaching the kickers in a part-time capacity because he was busy serving as mayor of Evesham Township.
“Thankfully, John Harbaugh is a political science guy and loves politics, and he allowed me to be mayor for 12 years,” Brown said. “When I was elected mayor in 2007, John got the job here about nine months after I was elected. So, after I promised 50,000 people I would represent them for four years, I figured, ‘Gosh, can I really leave right now, only a year in?’ But, credit to John and Dick [Cass] and Steve [Bisciotti] and Ozzie [Newsome] and Eric [DeCosta] to allow me to do both. But really, it’s the players that have said, ‘OK, we’ll take Randy on these days and at games, because at least he’s here for that time.’ Without those guys, I wouldn’t have been able to do it.”
The commute three times per week was far from the toughest part of juggling serving as mayor and coaching in the NFL.
“You know how nice constituents are when you’re the elected official, and how understanding they are when you don’t get back to them when a deer is dead in their front lawn, when their trash can was ruined, and when their street wasn’t plowed on a very snowy day? They’re very patient when it comes to responses,” Brown joked. “Even though they’re watching you on TV coach a game … You should see the emails and texts, or the phone calls my wife would get: ‘The mayor hasn’t responded to me.’ ‘Well, do you understand he’s coaching a game right now?’ And by the way, that mayor job paid me $300 a month to be mayor.”
When Harbaugh convinced Brown to join the staff part time, kicking specialists were rare in the NFL. Twelve years later, he estimated that there are only five people in his role in the league. Brown applauded Harbaugh’s foresight to recognize the importance of the role.
“Obviously, you see the results with our kickers in Baltimore, and he continues to do it,” Harbaugh said. “Now, he’s in an even larger role for us. He’s doing a great job. He’s a heck of a coach, and I’m glad he’s on our side.”
Justin Tucker, who since joining the Ravens as an undrafted free agent in 2012 has become the most accurate kicker in NFL history, acknowledges Brown as a major reason for his individual success. Punter Sam Koch is regarded among the best in the league at his position and long-snapper Morgan Cox has made a Pro Bowl.
The trio – the self-proclaimed ‘Wolf Pack’ – have all benefitted from Brown’s tutelage.
“I owe a large part of my individual success to Randy Brown, absolutely. Randy came in my second day of training camp my rookie year, and he changed the type of kicker that I was,” Tucker said. “Without Randy then, without Randy now, and all the time that we’ve had in between the last seven-plus years, I would absolutely not be the football player that I am today. Randy is incredibly important to, not just myself, but Morgan and Sam.
“It’s just that he has a unique talent, that he has an eye for what it looks like to kick a good ball, or throw a good snap, or punt a ball or hold a ball. He knows the ins and outs of what it takes to do all of those things. Beyond that, he’s an excellent communicator. I think the hallmark of a great coach is being able to communicate to a variety of different personalities effectively, and Randy absolutely knows how to do that.”
Several kickers around the league have spent time in Baltimore under Brown. Buffalo Bills’ Steven Hauschka, Carolina Panthers’ Graham Gano, New Orleans Saints’ Will Lutz all benefitted from a training camp with the Ravens. This camp, the Ravens traded kicker Kaare Vedvik to the Minnesota Vikings for a fifth-round draft pick.
If Vedvik wins the starting job in Minnesota, five of the NFL’s 32 kickers – just under 16 percent – will be former pupils of Brown’s.
Follow Sean Grogan on Twitter: @Sean_CecilWhig