SUPER BOWL XXXIX Brown brings 'old-school flavor'
Patriots' utilityman played cornerback, receiver and kick returner this year.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- Troy Brown is a throwback, a relic of another era.
In other words, Gino Cappelletti's kind of guy.
"That's the way I remember football being for me," said Cappelletti, who played for the Patriots in the 1960s and is now on their radio broadcast team. "A lot of what I see in football today, it's hard to identify because they've changed the way they do things."
Indeed, Brown seems more suited for the era when players like Cappelletti and Chuck Bednarik rarely left the field.
Offense? Defense? Special teams?
All of the above.
All over the depth chart
Brown has been a receiver for most of his 12-year career, but he willingly stepped across the line to help the Patriots in the secondary. And in Sunday's Super Bowl, Brown's name will be all over the depth chart.
He's a backup at receiver. He's the No. 2 at right cornerback. He's the top punt returner.
And, oh yes, he's downright weary.
"There's a lot of information going through my head," Brown said. "For a few weeks there, I thought I was going crazy."
Playing both ways is largely unheard of in this era. A few players, like Deion Sanders, have had success on both sides of the line. But in this era of specialization, look for it to remain mostly a curiosity, a reminder of a bygone era.
"I bring a little old-school flavor to the game," Brown said.
The transition to defense began in training camp, when the coaches asked Brown to work at defensive back because of his familiarity with the passing routes.
Even so, he didn't know most of the defensive calls. To cope with the transition, secondary coach Eric Mangini stood beside him on the practice field -- a real, live cheat sheet.
"I was like, 'Dude, I don't know what the calls mean,' " Brown said. "So he stood beside me the whole time I was covering guys. It was kind of a disaster."
But the coaches clearly saw something they liked. When the secondary lost starting cornerbacks Tyrone Poole and Ty Law to season-ending injuries, Brown had to fill the void.
It was a strange sight -- this receiver-turned-cornerback who wears No. 80, dropping back into pass coverage. But he was a quick study, doing far more than just filling a place on the field. Working mainly as a nickel back in passing situations, Brown had three interceptions, broke up five passes and made 17 tackles.
He played enough on the offensive side to make 17 catches for 184 yards, including a touchdown. He also returned 12 punts, averaging a team-high 6.9 yards.
"He's a complete football player," Cappelletti said. "He has great instincts on the field, the kind that coaches can't really teach you. Either you have it or you don't."
As the Patriots go for their third Super Bowl title in four years, plenty of players -- Tom Brady, Corey Dillon, Teddy Bruschi -- have gotten more attention than Brown. But his teammates consider him one of their most valuable players.
"As a team player, Troy is right at the top of the list," Brady said.
"There is no other guy who has the respect of his teammates like Troy."