Give Sergio Brown credit: He's got a good sense of humor.
The Buffalo Bills' safety is used to being asked about being on the receiving end of one of the most devastating blocks you'll ever see – one that was delivered by none other than Amherst native and New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski.
That occurred back in 2014, when Brown was with the Indianapolis Colts. Their history goes back even further than that, though, to 2012, when Brown broke Gronkowski's arm on extra point. The former teammates – Brown played for New England in 2010 and '11 – were not on the best of terms from that point on, culminating with Gronkowski going full-on "Gronk" and blocking Brown into another dimension.
After the game, Gronkowski famously said Brown was "yappin'," so he "threw him out of the club."
Brown doesn't deny any of that.
"They was mad because I broke his arm the year before. They just couldn’t get over that," he said. "I was talking so much trash that game. He only caught one pass on me. I’m in his ear just jawing, jawing, jawing and I guess he just had enough of it. He’s a big guy. He could do that to anybody if he really wanted to, and he did it to me."
Here is more on Brown, who has become a key contributor on special teams for the Bills in his five games with the team.
The Buffalo News: Tell us about where you're from and how you got here.
Sergio Brown: "I’m from Maywood, Ill. It’s on the west side of Chicago. I went to Proviso East High School. It’s nowhere near a football powerhouse. It’s one of the basketball schools in the city – Doc Rivers, Michael Finley, Steven Hunter, Dee Brown – a whole bunch of basketball players, but not so many football players. Then I went to Notre Dame. Graduate Notre Dame in 2010. My first two years I was in New England, then three years in Indianapolis, last year with Jacksonville, now I’m here, most beautiful place in the world."
BN: What are you into outside of football?
SB: "One of my hobbies is traveling. I love to travel. In my free time, I like to plan at least one type of trip somewhere to a different country."
BN: How many different countries have you been to? Which one is your favorite so far?
SB: "Like 15. ... That’s a hard question. I’ve been to South Africa twice. Cape Town. But I really like Barcelona."
BN: Did you do the running with the bulls?
SB: "I left right before that! I like to be home for Fourth of July if I do travel. The running with the bulls was like the second of July or something."
BN: So would you have done it if you were there?
SB: "No. No. Hell no. I would have took pictures. I met some friends on the beach and everything, they knew I played ball and I was pretty athletic. They were trying to talk me into it, like 'you’ll be ok, you can run.' I’m like, 'there’s no way I’m taking that chance.' "
BN: Where would like to see?
SB: "I’m infatuated with the Mediterranean. But I really want to go to Thailand or Bali or something. One of my friends from school, his family has a big place in Whistler, British Columbia. When the season's over, I’m going to go up there and check out the slopes. Do a little hot tub time."
BN: So Proviso East wasn't a football powerhouse?
SB: "Not at all. I probably won like seven games in four years. I was a basketball player, had hoop dreams. My junior year, I had an incredible football season, and I was looking forward to basketball season, because basketball was going to be even more memorable, but I ended up dislocating my foot during the Christmas tournament and it ended my season."
BN: How did you get discovered?
SB: "Luckily I had a great football season, so we ended up making a highlight tape. In my high school, football wasn’t taken too serious. The head coach of the football team didn’t work at the school or anything. So we switched coaches going into my senior year.
"One of my friends, he transferred away and he ended up coming back. He was like, 'yo, Sergio, I’m going to the Nike camp.' I’m like, 'you’re going to the Nike camp? I’m like, I’m way better than you, how come I can’t go to the Nike Camp?' … We had a new coach, and he was the head security guard in the building, and he had the first office as soon as you walk in. So when coaches do drive byes, they actually had somebody to talk to. So Illinois and UCLA come in after I get the hightlight tape actually made and they offered me on the spot. They were like, 'don’t show this tape to anybody else.' But we sent it to the Nike, they invited me to the football camp, I ran a 4.4, I was talking smack. I had a 3.2 GPA. Before the end of the month, I had over 35 D-1 offers. My life changed ever since then."
BN: So you're a big-time Chicago sports fan. How do you pick a baseball team when there is two in the city?
SB: "I happened to go to Progressive Baptist Church when I was young. It was on the south side of Chicago, and it happened to be right next door to Comiskey Park where the White Sox played. So I’m coming out of church one time, and I see The Big Hurt, Frank Thomas. I get an autograph, and I’m like 'that’s my baseball team.' "
BN: Did you know Patrick Kane is a Buffalo guy?
SB: "I did. I don’t know if I can say this with our owner, but I’m a die-hard Chicago Blackhawks fan. I go to their games all the time. I’m friends with a couple scouts, so they hook me up with some tickets. It’s amazing."