LINCOLN — As Kris Brown prepared for one of the most important kicks of his college career, the goalposts were still moving a little.
“As if it weren’t hard enough,” the former Nebraska kicker said.
This is 1997 Missouri, and Nebraska had just come within a point of the Tigers after Matt Davison caught a ball deflected off a teammate’s foot for the “Flea Kicker” — the most memorable touchdown in school history.
Brown, selected Wednesday for the Nebraska Football Hall of Fame, still had to tie the game. Time had expired, and Missouri’s students had rushed the field, mistakenly believing the game was over, and gathered around the goalposts. Students were sent back to the bleachers. Brown was left to make the extra point.
He did. Brown, still No. 2 in NU history in career points, rarely missed any kicks, and he didn’t miss a single extra point in 1997, when the Huskers won their fifth national title. Brown kicked a lot of extra points, he joked, at Nebraska. By the time Brown left school, he’d set the NCAA record for extra points made. NU’s offense was so prolific it rarely needed to settle for field goals.
But Brown was excellent at those, too — especially from long range. He made 13 of 20 from 40 yards or longer in his career. He won the job as a true freshman in 1995 and started all four years in Lincoln. He kicked 12 years in the NFL — primarily for the Steelers and Texans — before retiring after the 2010 season.
Recruited out of Southlake Carroll High School in Texas, where he also started at quarterback, Brown jumped at a Nebraska scholarship offer. He won two national titles but said his decision to attend NU impacted more off the field.
“Honestly, if I hadn’t come to Nebraska, the trajectory of my life wouldn’t have been what it was,” said Brown, who met his wife, Amy, at NU. Since retiring from the NFL, his family has moved back to Omaha. Brown owns and operates several Dunkin’ Donuts stores in the Midwest.
“We like the stability,” Brown said of living in Nebraska. “It’s a great place to raise your family. People here know what’s important.”
Brown found out Wednesday he was being selected for the Hall of Fame — along with former Huskers Adam Carriker (defensive end), Scott Raridon (offensive line) and now-deceased kicker Dean Sukup. The selection comes as his younger brother, current Nebraska kicker Drew Brown, lost his close friend, NU punter Sam Foltz, in a car crash.
Kris Brown knew Foltz well. Foltz and Drew Brown would come up to Omaha sometimes to visit.
“There are no words to describe how you feel,” Kris Brown said. “It’s just tragic.”
Kris Brown said he talked to Drew on Sunday shortly after the news broke. They’ll talk again this week.
Asked for top memories in his career, Brown said a 44-yard field goal in that 1997 Missouri game stood out — he hit it perfectly — as did a 51-yarder in the 1996 Big 12 Championship game.
Other Hall of Fame selections:
» Carriker was a two-time All-Big 12 defensive end in 2005 and 2006 and a first-round NFL Draft pick in 2007. Also a high school quarterback, Carriker got to 295 pounds at NU and had 33 tackles for loss over his final two seasons in Lincoln.
» Raridon was a three-year letterman for Nebraska from 1981 to 1983, helping the Huskers to three straight Big Eight titles. He was first-team All-Big Eight in 1983. His son, John, is a freshman on the Husker football team.
» Sukup was All-Big Eight in 1979, making 12 of 17 field goals that season. He died in 2004. He was a golf pro in the Los Angeles area.
» Doane tackle Fred Davis was the 1967 World-Herald State College Athlete of the Year and the 1967 and 1968 NAIA champion in the shot put.
» Husker boosters Mike and Julie Jacobson will receiver the Clarence E. Swanson Meritorious Service Award, while Dr. Tom and Nancy Heiser will receive the Lyell Bremser Special Merit Award.