Cody Brown just completed his first full season of professional football after being drafted in round 19 by the Philadelphia Stars of the USFL. Before this, he had gotten his beginning in the Alliance of American Football back in 2019. This would be followed by his only chance in the NFL, a brief stint with the Jaguars on injured reserve. This was followed by joining the XFL, being cut before he played a down for the team that drafted him.
Long Winding Road Back to Football
As you can see Cody Brown, has had to fight for a chance in the professional football world at every turn. The 28-year-old defensive back has seen two different year plus stints out of football, only furthering any questions I had about why he wasn’t given opportunities at the next level. Given his brief hiatuses from the game, I asked Cody if he ever considered going to the Indoor Football League as a way to continue his career. “not really. I just don’t think it was for me, with a field that small I would probably hurt someone.”
I don’t think anyone is doubting you on that fact, Cody. It’s not often that a man who finds himself playing football professionally will be able to say they spent a full 3 seasons out of the game during his professional career, and still managed to make it back.
After graduating in 2016, it was two full years before he got his first chance as a professional football player with the AAF. Cody’s conviction to play football would be tested, ultimately leading him to look for a sign that he belonged in football. He would get his sign when the Salt Lake Stallions came calling following the AAF combine. He would start all 8 games of their only season. During his time with the AAF, he managed 40 tackles and 1 interception. Showing he is a solid football player.
Alliance of American Football Money Woes
As history will show, the Alliance of American Football, had a rather large investor back out midseason due to a cryptocurrency scandal that brought him into the limelight in the worst way possible. Due to this, the AAF was forced to find an emergency investor. This ended up being with Tom Dundon an NHL team owner who seemed to see a value, not in the league itself, but it’s technology.
The AAF despite its lower budget had managed to keep itself on the cutting edge of fan interaction at the time with an Application that allowed fans to stay more closely tied to the game. This app proved to be extremely desirable for Dundon, so much so that he shut down an entire football league to get his hands on this technology.
After just 8 games Dundon ruthlessly pulled the trigger on men like Cody Brown whose professional football career was only alive due to the AAF. However, with the collapse of the AAF, Cody didn’t waver in his belief that God had shown him football was for him.
Two Leagues in Two Years
Like many former AAF players, Cody was offered an opportunity to attend minicamp with the Jacksonville Jaguars. Unfortunately, due to a torn meniscus, he would end up missing most of the time he spent on the team. He would land on injured reserve, and not come off until he was healthy enough to release.
With the only NFL opportunity of his career to this point dried up, Brown looked to the next spring league to launch. The 2020 version of the XFL. So he hit the workout circuit once again, showing he can play in front of scouts, and coaches alike.
This would end up giving him yet another opportunity to play the game he loves professionally. He again was named a starter almost immediately this time adding 5 more games to his 8 starts in the AAF. At this point, he managed to have his best professional season yet, on a team that went undefeated.
In just 5 games Brown had 28 tackles, 1 sack, 2 interceptions, and 87 return yards. The young defensive back in just 13 games had a total of 68 tackles, 1 sack, and 3 interceptions. Not a bad stretch for a man who had sat out for two seasons before this.
Not Done Yet
In just two seasons, Cody had been stuck in the middle of two different spring football leagues folding. This time the league hadn’t folded due to money concerns, instead, a worldwide pandemic shut down the XFL. However whatever the cause, the result was the same. Thousands of players, coaches, executives, or other staff members are unemployed and again left to fight for pay owed.
To many men, these setbacks and the time out of the game would be enough for them to walk away. Cody is no ordinary man. He found motivation in his time with the AAF, it was reaffirmed during his time with the Jaguars before he was injured. The XFL allowed him to showcase himself, and gain some confidence back on that injured knee. All of this added up to show Brown he belonged.
2021 Free Agent Again
Following the 2020 collapse of the XFL, many players found their way back into the NFL. Including some of Brown’s Houston teammates. Guys like Pj Walker, Donald Parham, and Kenny Robinson come to mind. However Cody didn’t get a shot, despite an impressive season in which he affected the game in coverage, and as a pass rusher, teams simply weren’t calling.
In comes spring league number 3. The USFL began to announce plans to launch during that 2021 season when Brown was sitting at home waiting for his opportunity. Having played in the AAF, and XFL, he was no stranger to spring football and actually, considered the league an option right away.
The main takeaway here, is that Brown never gives up. Whether it was his effort in college to make it from the JUCO level to a D1 program, or his ability to stay in shape, and motivated for 3 full seasons out of football between spring leagues. If there was a Spring League Hall of Fame, Cody Brown would garner recognition for what he has accomplished in three different leagues now.
Cody Brown has now played in 25 professional football games over what has amounted to basically 2 full seasons of professional football. This time on the field has left him with a stat line like this:
129 tackles, 3 interceptions for 87 yards, and 1 sack
He has shown a nose for the ball, as well as the size and speed to play a multitude of positions for his team. For the first time in his professional career, he gets to return to a team for a year two. The world will be watching in 2023 when the USFL becomes the first paid professional football league to complete a season in a decade. No one quite knew what to expect.
One thing we can expect is that Cody Brown, will not turn his back on spring football if an NFL team doesn’t come his way. In fact Cody says he would be more than happy to play a longterm USFL career if that’s what it takes to chase his dream of playing professional football.
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