Grave digging: Brown was one of football's greatest characters of the 1990s

11/05/15 by Matthew S. Vandriak



Gilbert Brown: He was a fan favorite in Green Bay for many reasons. Partially because at 350 pounds, fans couldn't miss him on the field. Partially because of his "Grave Digger" nickname, which he gained for his post tackle or sack celebration dance. Partially because he really did have it his way at Burger King, having his own burger named after him. But also partially because of his success on the field as a member of the Packers, helping the team win their first Super Bowl in nearly 30 years after the 1996 season.
Born and raised in Detroit, Michigan, Brown was all state in football his senior year. Believe it or not, he also lettered in track as a member of his high school's shot put team. Brown was a fairly sought after defensive lineman following high school, recruited to the University of Michigan by legendary head coach Bo Schembechler. However Brown wanted to get away from the inner city and decided to play his college football at the University of Kansas, which really wasn't known for football. Prior to Brown's arrival in 1989, the Jayhawks football team had won 5 games total over their previous 3 seasons. During Brown's senior year, Kansas won their first Bowl Game in 31 years when the Jayhawks won the 1992 Aloha Bowl.
Brown actually wasn't drafted by Green Bay, he was selected by Minnesota in the 3rd round of the 1993 NFL draft. Brown was cut by the Vikings in part because of his weight, he came into camp weighing 355lbs. But the Packers signed him, and would be the only NFL team Brown played a regular season game for. Despite having the 1994 and 1995 seasons cut short due to injury, Brown came into his own in 1996. Playing on a defensive line with Reggie White, Santana Dotson, and Sean Jones, Brown and the Packers allowed an NFL record low 19 touchdowns that season. Green Bay would also go on to win Super Bowl XXI, the Packers first championship since Super Bowl II.

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Brown would play for the Packers from 1993 through 1999, then after sitting out the 2000 season, would play from 2001 through 2003 in Green Bay as well. Brown was best known for his Grave Digger celebration dance, which earned him the nickname. He also had a burger named after him at Burger King, the "Gilbert Burger", which was a triple Whopper with extra everything, just no pickles. It was the burger Brown would order regularly during the 1996 Super Bowl season
After his NFL career, Brown spent some time as a coach in both arena football and in the Lingerie Football League. He's also co owner of the Milwaukee Mile race track and has his own foundation which has supported breast cancer, inner city youth, and the Make A Wish Foundation. He was selected as a member of the Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame in 2008.
Oh, and he still has a burger named after him as well. A local sports bar in Green Bay features the Grave Digger Burger, which weighs 93 ounces (5 & 3/4lbs)in honor of Brown's former number, #93, with the Packers.

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