By Ross Forman
Robert Brazile has had the same autograph for years: His name, #52, along with the inscription, “Dr. Doom,” which was his nickname, dating back to his appearance in the old Chicago College All-Star Game before his NFL career.
His autograph is now: Robert Brazile, “HOF ’18.”
“I love doing (the new autograph),” he said a week after it was announced that he was selected to be part of the Class of 2018 to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
“You don’t know what’s going to be the most exciting thing in your life. It could be something with your kids, something with your parents, or something else. For me, it was getting into the Hall of Fame,” Brazile said. “The Houston Oilers don’t exist anymore, so I don’t have a home. And waiting for this (announcement) has taken a long time.
“In fact, before (the announcement of the Class of 2018), I didn’t really like football. My team didn’t exist, the way I left the game. But when I got that (Hall of Fame confirmation), football was telling Robert Brazile, ‘We love you and appreciate what you’ve done for this game … and welcome to the Hall of Fame.’”
Brazile, now 65, was an NFL linebacker from 1975 to 1984 for the Houston Oilers.
He earned seven trips to the Pro Bowl and was a five-time First-Team All-Pro. Brazile was the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 1975 and is a member of the NFL 1970s All-Decade Team.
Brazile’s career spanned 147 games, with 13 interceptions, including three in 1977.
Brazile won four of the seven playoff games that he played in, including two in 1978 and two in 1979.
“I have a lot of fond memories of my career,” said Brazile, who appeared in Houston on Feb. 10 at the 32nd annual Tristar Collectors Show. He signed autographs that day alongside such fellow Gold-Jacket members as Jack Youngblood, Lem Barney, Dick Butkus, Carl Eller, Barry Sanders, Lawrence Taylor, Ron Yary, Roger Wehrli, MikeSingletary, Walter Jones and Bob Lilly.
Brazile’s Hall of Fame moment came in February, the day before the Super Bowl – when he received a knock on his hotel room door, informing him that he had been chosen to be inducted, as did other honorees.
“That was the knock (on the hotel door) that I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Brazile said.
If the knock didn’t come, it would have been a phone call. So Brazile admitted with a smile that he put his phone on silence that afternoon, not wanting to hear a ring.
“It was amazing, and I’m still floating,” Brazile said of the Hall of Fame announcement.
Brazile was among the 18 finalists for the Class of 2018 – and eight were inducted.
He was with 60-plus Hall of Famers days before the announcement – and was quite emotional.
“That was so warm, so (welcoming). It was so many guys who I played with, played against … it was like a big family reunion,” he said.
The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced Brazile had been nominated for the Class of 2018 in August of last year. It was more than six months before he knew for sure he would be inducted.
Brazile is now the third player from Jackson State University to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, as he joins Jackie Slater and Walter Payton.
Ironically, in the 1975 NFL Draft, the Chicago Bears picked Payton with the fourth overall pick and the Oilers grabbed Brazile two picks later.
Brazile also has been inducted into the SWAC Hall of Fame, the Jackson State Hall of Fame, the Black College Football Hall of Fame, the Alabama Sports Hall of Fame, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Brazile landed in Houston, a team then with a new head coach/general manager: Bum Phillips.
The Luv Ya Blu era in Houston also featured Earl Campbell, Dan Pastorini and Elvin Bethea, among others.
“Bum took me as one of his sons; we had a father-son like relationship. Sure, he had other kids too, so to speak, such as Earl, but I was one too,” Brazile said. “Dan Pastorini did so much for the team, and what a team it was. We had Earl, Elvin, Curley (Culp), and others. And all of them are already in the Hall of Fame. Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson was on the team too, and he too should be in the Hall of Fame.”
In 1978 and 1979, Brazile was a key member of Oilers teams that went to back-to-back AFC Championship Games.He finished his career with 11 quarterback sacks, and unofficially his career sack total is 48, as sacks did not become an official NFL statistic until 1982.
He had 1,281 tackles, the second highest total in Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans history.
Brazile celebrated his 65th birthday days after learning he would be heading to the Hall of Fame.
“I’m so blessed and happy to see 65,” he said.
Brazile said he still receives regular fan-mail, including some sent to his mom.
“She makes me sit down every time I’m there and sign (those autograph-requests),” he added. u
Ross Forman is a freelance contributor to Sports Collectors Digest. He can be reached at Rossco814@aol.com.