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Ex-Raven Brown is found dead

‘Zeus’ career was marred by getting hit by ref’s flag

Orlando “Zeus’’ Brown played 10 NFL seasons with Cleveland and Baltimore. Orlando “Zeus’’ Brown played 10 NFL seasons with Cleveland and Baltimore. (File/Getty Images)
Associated Press / September 24, 2011

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Orlando “Zeus’’ Brown, the 360-pound tackle who in 1999 was accidentally hit in the eye with a penalty flag and missed three seasons because of the damage it caused, was found dead at his Baltimore home. He was 40.

Firefighters were called about 11 a.m. yesterday because Brown was unresponsive at his home near the Inner Harbor, fire spokesman Battalion Chief Kevin Cartwright said. He said Brown was dead when firefighters arrived. The cause of death wasn’t known. Police said there were no signs of trauma or suspicious activity.

Brown, a 6-foot-7-inch offensive tackle, played 10 NFL seasons - four with the Cleveland Browns (1993-95 and 1999) and six with the Baltimore Ravens (1996-98 and 2003-05). He started 119 of his 129 games.

Brown will be remembered for the game between Cleveland and Jacksonville a dozen years ago when the massive tackle was struck in the right eye by a weighted penalty flag thrown by official Jeff Triplette. Brown stormed on the field and pushed Triplette, drawing a suspension.

Brown was hospitalized for six days with bleeding behind the eye. He sued the NFL for $200 million, settling the lawsuit for $25 million.

He missed the next three seasons because of the injury, returning to football and the Ravens for the 2003 season. The Ravens learned of Brown’s death during practice.

“Everybody knew what he meant to this organization,’’ Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “We’re forever grateful for what he did for the present team. We can’t express enough sorrow for his loss.’’

Patriots coach Bill Belichick said he was shocked by the death of Brown, whom he signed and coached for three years with Cleveland.

“Orlando improved as a player as much as anyone I have ever seen, as he went from being a defensive lineman at South Carolina State to becoming one of the game’s top offensive tackles, when he sustained his unfortunate eye injury,’’ Belichick said in a statement. “Orlando was a true throwback player who loved football and was as tough as they come.’’

Romo’s status up in air Tony Romo is still sleeping in a recliner, still not practicing, and still not certain whether he’ll be able to play against the Redskins Monday night. He’s also not ruling himself out. “If it’s just about the pain side of it, I think we’ll be good to go,’’ Romo said. “But we’ll have to determine that as it gets closer . . . I don’t think we can say anything 100 percent right now. It’s just a matter of the day and keep getting better. I’m obviously planning mentally going out there, so we’ll see.’’ Jon Kitna would start if Romo can’t. The Cowboys will likely also be without wide receiver Miles Austin, who has been unable to practice this week because of a hamstring injury . . . Eagles quarterback Michael Vick practiced for a second consecutive day and pronounced himself ready to play against the Giants in the Eagles’ home opener tomorrow, seven days after he left a game against the Falcons with a concussion.

Dumervil out for Broncos Broncos defensive end Elvis Dumervil, hampered by a left shoulder injury, will miss tomorrow’s game against the Titans. He was limited in practice Wednesday and Thursday but that looked to be precautionary. But after going through early stretching exercises yesterday, he didn’t take any reps . . . Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (knee) will likely start against the Buccaneers after fully participating in practice yesterday for the first time this week . . . Tight end Kevin Boss will make his regular-season debut with the Raiders after sitting out the first two weeks with a knee sprain. The former Giant will take the field tomorrow when Oakland hosts the Jets . . . All-Pro center Nick Mangold did not travel with the Jets for their game at Oakland because of an ankle sprain, and rookie Colin Baxter will start in his place . . . After missing the first two games with a shoulder injury, wide receiver Sidney Rice is expected to make his Seattle debut against the Cardinals.

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