C.C. Brown Balancing NFL, National Guard
Houston Texans undrafted free agent safety C.C. Brown has more to worry about than the Turk asking for his playbook. He is a soldier with the Mississippi National Guard’s 114th Field Artillery, members of which are overseas in Afghanistan.
C.C. Brown has more worries than most NFL rookies. While he learns plays and competes for a spot with the Houston Texans, thoughts of Afghanistan are never far away. As a member of the Mississippi National Guard, the sixth-round draft pick could be called for duty at any time.
He and his best friend, Darrell Sproles, grew up poor in Greenwood, Miss., and enlisted together as seniors in high school because they saw it as their only way out. Now, Sproles is in Afghanistan and Brown, a strong safety, is trying to make the most of his opportunity while feeling guilty that he’s not with his friend. “The possibility of going overseas stays on my mind,” Brown said. “The only thing I can do is just try to focus on football more and just handle that when they call.”
The 6-foot, 204-pound Brown wasn’t asked to the NFL combine and many teams stayed away from him for fear he would be called to active duty. But the Texans took a chance, and so far it appears to be a good one. Brown led the team with seven tackles and nearly intercepted a pass in the end zone before it fell incomplete in a 20-14 loss to Denver in Houston’s first exhibition game Saturday night. He’s listed at second on the depth chart at strong safety behind Glenn Earl.
Brown and Sproles talk about three times a week, and those calls mean a lot to both. “When I hear from C, it brightens my day,” Sproles said in a telephone interview with Houston television station KRIV from Afghanistan. “Any time I can get in contact with him, it feels real good knowing that my friend is right there to talk to me whenever I need to talk to him.”
Brown always loved football, but hadn’t been offered a scholarship to play in college. He had given up on a future in it when Sproles suggested they enlist. About a week later, Mississippi Delta Community College offered Brown a scholarship.
I hope Brown makes it in the NFL. And Sproles makes it home.