I was able to catch up with former Tar Heel and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Na Brown. Na compiled 165 catches for 2,086 yards and 14 touchdowns during his four years at North Carolina.
Keeping it Heel: You were named North Carolina High School athlete of the year in 1995 and were widely considered one of the best baseball players in the state, was there every any thought of a career in baseball?
Na Brown: Well, actually there was, baseball was always my first love. When I committed to North Carolina, Coach Brown said I would have a chance to play baseball for the baseball team but as things changed and I actually got there and realize that football is year round Coach Brown said maybe we should just focus on football. I planned on playing baseball at Carolina but things just didn’t work out that way but I cant complain about anything that happened
KIH: How special was the 1997 team that finished the season 11-1 and ended the year with a 42-3 trashing of Va Tech in the Gator Bowl?
NB: That was arguably the best team that I ever played on. We still couldn’t get over that Florida State hump. The defense that year, like every year I played, was unbelievable. The offense was clicking fairly well in itself. That team was a special team and there was something about the chemistry that we had, we knew that every time we stepped out there we planned on winning and we took it from there
KIH: How much did the departure of Coach Mack Brown change the completion of your senior season at Chapel Hill?
NB: Not too much because Torbush took over and he was there all three years that Mack was there so he was still a defensive guy, the offensive coaches were still in tact. Losing someone like Coach Brown was huge for us but we realized that we still had to carry on and continue to do what we have been doing but the whole staff was in tact for the most part and we just went out and took it one day at a time. It did hurt a little bit by him just leaving but it worked out in the end.
KIH: The Philadelphia Eagles selected you with the 130th overall pick in the 1999 NFL Draft, was there any apprehension on your part going to the City of Brotherly Love after seeing how the Philadelphia fans unceremoniously greeted Donovan McNabb on draft day?
NB: I was sitting at home watching the draft on television, I never got worked out by Philly and I had no indication that I would be going to Philly. When McNabb got drafted and they booed him with the first round pick, I said, Man, I would hate to be the one to get picked after him. That was definitely something that stuck in his mind as well. After I got drafted I was just trying to start a new career and start a new life.
KIH: Former Chicago Bear Wendell Davis had his career ended after he blew out both of his knees during at game at Veterans Stadium. Just how bad was the playing surface at the vet?
NB: It was the worst I have ever played on. The way we classified it, it was like playing outside on the street with the thin indoor/outdoor carpet on top. On top of that it had creases from baseball, dirt under the playing field it was something you had to take a hold of. Everyone said it was a home field advantage because we knew where everything was but it did more damage to our team than it did to everyone else. It was definitely something
KIH: You were part of the first draft class of Andy Reid back in 1999, if you were Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie would you bring Big Red back for his 15th season considering all the turmoil with the Eagles this year?
NB: To me, he is still one of the top coaches in the league. I think a lot of the stuff that’s happening now did not have too much to do with him, ultimately it falls on the Coach but the players still need to go out and play. He puts the players in the right position, things just are not working out in his favor right now. I think he is a couple players away from where he needs to be. Would I bring him back? Honestly, I think I would. I played for him throughout the years and its not hurting anyone worse than him to lose.
KIH: What are your thoughts on the direction of the North Carolina football program and what would appear to be future stars in Giovanni Bernard and Quinshad Davis?
NB: They are exciting! I will tell you that! Little Bernard he is a sneaky individual just watching him play and some of the things he can do at that size is kind of amazing, returning punts, catching passes out of the backfield and running the ball. Quinshad Davis, who is only a Freshman, has stepped up and is doing a great job. With that offense that Coach Fedora has put in you never know who will be the guy to step up during any given game because so many people have a chance to touch the ball. I am excited about where they are.
Na currently resides in Greensboro, North Carolina where he can be found playing as much golf as possible and coaching his sons basketball team. He has two boys, ages 10 and 8 and a 4 year old girl. You can follow Na on twitter @NaBrownSr95.