Maybe no player has experienced more change in Rex Ryan's defense than inside linebacker Preston Brown, the one relaying a complicated scheme to the field. In this week's Getting to Know, Brown discusses his love for drawing as a kid, watching cartoons today, which former pro he'd love to meet and explains how his dad — a high school coach in the Cincinnati area — still helps him pick up tendencies from offenses, too.
Through 11 games this season, the second-year pro out of Louisville has 84 tackles (48 solo), two interceptions and a forced fumble.
Where are you from and how did that make you who you are today? I’m from Cincinnati. It was fun growing up. I started playing football when I was six and played basketball, too. All sports growing up.
What kind of basketball player were you? I played in high school. I was like a four. A short four. I’d get down there, get a rebound and put it back up.
A Charles Barkley-type? Yeah, that’s about it.
What was your favorite sport? Probably baseball. I liked baseball the most growing up. I kind of just got away from it. It was a lot more fun for me. You got a lot more breaks. You can sit on the bench all day. It was fun for me, just standing in the outfield not really doing nothing. It was fun for me. I really enjoyed baseball. But football kind of picked up and stayed with me.
What else did you like doing as a kid growing up? I loved to draw. That’s what I like to do a lot. Draw cartoons all the time. I kind of stopped but I used to always draw anything I saw off of TV.
Who would you draw? All the Mickey Mouse characters. Scooby Doo. Everything. I used to get my Mom’s computer, Google something—whatever the search engine was back then—and just draw.
Do you still have those pictures? Yeah, they’re at my grandma’s house. She put them up on her wall. I haven’t drawn in a while.
Are you a cartoon guy still? Yeah, I always watch cartoons. Right now, it’s all Cartoon Network. They have a whole bunch of shows I watch. Me and my girlfriend both will sit and watch cartoons all day. Adult Swim, all that.
Are you a Family Guy fan? Family Guy. American Dad. All that.
What’s your favorite Family Guy episode? Probably an old one when I was younger—the old, creepy guy who’s asking for popsicles. That’s probably one. The old creepy guy’s funny. He definitely was the best. They haven’t had him on in a while now but they have to bring him back.
Is that your favorite cartoon? American Dad is probably my favorite. But I watch Family Guy on Sundays. After games on Sunday, I’ll watch the Walking Dead. I’m a big TV show guy. I have a set schedule of TV shows.
So what’s that set schedule? Monday is Gotham, my batman stuff. Tuesday, The Flash comes on. Monday, that Supergirl comes on too but I don’t really mess with that. Wednesday, it’s Modern Family and also Tosh and Drunk History.
Watch with your girlfriend? When she comes to town. She comes to town for the home games, so she’ll be in. She’s in Cincinnati.
What’s something people don’t know about Preston Brown? Probably how weird how I am. A lot of people think I’m so calm because I’m a middle linebacker. Calm and serious all the time. But I’m really one of the weirdest guys here.
How do you get "weird?" I don’t know. You have to be around. It’s just, I don’t know. Random times, in the middle of the huddle, it’s fourth and 5 and I’m the one cracking jokes. Just try to be cool to keep everybody calm.
Does one joke in the huddle stand out? One week Rambo was faking hurt so I went to cuss him out and he got back up. He was technically hurt but I didn’t believe it so I told him to get back up.
So I know you and your dad are really close — does he still keep in touch with you from afar? Definitely. He always records the team’s game that we’re about to play. He’ll sit there and watch it to pick up little stuff going on. He’ll text me, ‘I saw this…’ because he caught a tendency or something like that.
Has one of those tendencies ever led to a big play for you? He definitely saw some tendencies with the Patriots that helped us. I spread the knowledge to guys on things that I see so it really has worked.
How often do you and your dad talk? I call him every day on my drive home. That’s when I get to talk to him.
How much does it help that your dad is another coach for you? Oh yeah. It’s great. The Jets week he kept telling us that D’Brickashaw Ferguson’s leg will tell you run/pass. That definitely was one of the biggest keys. When he’s about to pass set, he’s all the way back here. But run, he’s so stiff he’s got to bring it up.
Like right at the line? Right, when he sets you know if it’s a pass or a run. And then you definitely relay it to everybody else.
If you weren’t a football player, what would you be doing? Probably a teacher like my Dad and a coach. History or gym. My dad’s a gym teacher.
Favorite musician? Bow Wow. From Ohio. No, no, he doesn’t really do anything anymore. I usually just listen to what guys play in the locker room. I’m not a big music guy. I just listen to everything. When I was in college, I heard all the country stuff in Kentucky — the Luke Bryan — so I got used to all of that. Whatever’s playing, I’m cool with.
Who’s one person you’d want to meet dead or alive? Jim Brown. He’s the best football player ever. I’d definitely love to sit down and talk to him.
Was he a player you looked up? Definitely. When I was in little league, I had VHS tapes and I’d put them in my little TV and watch before every game. I’d watch them the night before.
How did that get you psyched up? It was definitely something I loved doing. I played running back when I was younger so I’d watch his highlights all day.
What kind of running back were you? Definitely forearms, stiff-arms and running past people. It was definitely fun watching that.
Any memorable Pop Warner plays you guys still talk about? We went to the Super Bowl every year. And every first play of the game, I’d score a touchdown. Double Slot Left 28 and I’d just run. It worked every time. First play of the game, everybody knew what it was and I’d always score.
Your Dad was your coach? Yep.
So you’re getting the ball 40 times a game, right? No, no. (Laughs) I only got the ball like 10 times but I’d score like four touchdowns. They’d all be like 70 yards. We’d fake a dive and have a guy coming on a reverse, too, because they thought I was getting the ball.
What’s your favorite football memory — from Pop Warner to now? Probably winning the Sugar Bowl against Florida my junior year. That definitely was the top. We were like the biggest underdog in the history of the BCS, so it was definitely good to go get that win.
What about your temperament and ‘weirdness’ can help this defense finish strong? Definitely, we have to put it together. It’s time. There’s no more time for excuses, no more “We’ll get it next time.” There’s no more time for that. Every game is a playoff game now. We have to win five straight and we have to take it one at a time.
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