Brett Favre is not the only NFL legend with the middle name “Lorenzo” to make his mark on the league. According to JW Nix, Houston Oilers linebacker Robert Brazile was a trailblazing 3-4 linebacker who retired after a family tragedy and deserves to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
1975 – 1984
147 Games Played
7 Pro Bowls
Robert Lorenzo Brazile, Jr. was a first round pick by the Houston Oilers in 1975. He was the sixth player picked overall. Picked just before him was his college teammate Walter Payton.
Brazile was rated as the premier collegiate linebacker in 1974 while playing at Jackson State. He started his collegiate football career as a tight end, but switched to linebacker during his sophomore year. Brazile was called “Mr. Versatile”, a moniker he earned because of his ability to excel at either the inside or outside linebacker slot.
He helped lead Jackson State to two Southwestern Athletic Conference championships in 1972 and 1973. Brazile is a member of the Jackson State Sports Hall of Fame, the SWAC Hall of Fame, and the Mississippi Sports Hall of Fame.
Brazile was part a deal former Oilers coach Sid Gillman had made at the end of 1973. The Oilers acquired Kansas City’s 1975 first round selection, along with nose tackle Curley Culp, for defensive end John Matuszak.
New head coach/general manager Bum Phillips switched Houston’s base defense from the from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Brazile is credited by many to be most important in making the 3-4 popular by his ability to rush the quarterback from his outside linebacking position.
Brazile was the NFL’s Defensive Rookie of the Year award in 1975. He was named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first seven seasons. Brazile was a key member of Oilers teams that went to back-to-back AFC Championship games in 1978 and 1979.
In 1984, Brazile’s wife died in a car wreck. He retired immediately from the NFL. Brazile was chosen on the 1970’s NFL All-Decade Team. He is the only linebacker from that team not in Canton.
Many may remember his moniker in the NFL. Brazile was nicknamed “Dr. Doom” by his team mates after being tossed out of a game in his rookie year for hitting Washington Redskin Quarterback Billy Kilmer in the head. Some may recall the time he bulldogged Dallas Cowboys Hall of Fame Running Back Tony Dorsett by the facemask.
Brazile was a vicious hitter. He was equally excellent is pass coverage and run support as he was rushing the passer. He didn’t always play on good teams, so he wasn’t given the nation wide notice, during that era, he deserved.
Since the NFL did not record sacks as a statistic until 1982, his impact on the game may not be fully realized by newer fans. Those who saw Brazile play knew he was always one of the better defensive players in the NFL in his era year in and year out. Robert Brazile deserves to be inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame. Ask his peers.
See Crazy Canton Cuts for more profiles of gridiron legends.