Former Herd safety relishes Super Bowl win
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - The night the lights went out in New Orleans' Superdome - on the biggest night of the National Football League's year, no less - rookie defensive back Omar Brown stood on the Super Bowl XLVII sideline with his Baltimore Ravens teammates.
But he wasn't surprised. After watching years of close calls, blowouts and tiptoe touchdowns in the league's title game, he knew to expect anything.
"I was telling people, I was like, 'Anything can happen at a Super Bowl,'" he said. "And when the lights cut out, it just confirmed what I was saying all night."
The Ravens emerged from the blackout to hold off the San Francisco 49ers and win the franchise's second Vince Lombardi Trophy. Brown, a 2011 all-Conference-USA first team safety for Marshall University, was back in town Friday as a special guest at Marshall's Tip Off Club luncheon at Guyan Golf and Country Club. He and former Thundering Herd linebacker Albert McClellan were Marshall's emissaries on the Ravens roster. And for Brown, the path he took to that Super Bowl ring made Baltimore's win even sweeter.
"When I found out we were going to the Super Bowl, it was like a sigh of relief," he said. "All of it was worth it. It made it that much better. It really didn't hit me until we got back to Baltimore and I woke up the next morning and I was like, 'I'm a Super Bowl champ.'"
Brown joined the Ravens as a rookie free agent. He was released Aug. 31, but signed to the practice squad Sept. 1. The Ravens released him from the practice squad on Nov. 13, but signed him back to the practice squad Nov. 20 and promoted him to the active roster on Dec. 12.
"It was hard," he said. "Doing all the right things and working as hard as you possibly can and still coming up short sometimes, it's hard. But I kept my head up and just kept fighting."
He played the final three games of the regular season, recording three tackles and one sack. He was on the inactive list through the playoffs, but was on the sideline as Ravens and Niners squared off. Baltimore looked like it would cruise to the title, but the Superdome went dark minutes after Jacoby Jones' 108-yard kickoff return for a touchdown.
"We had a lot of momentum going and we knew that the lights going off slowed that down," Brown said. "They kept warm, and stayed loose and were just ready for when the lights came on."
After his Ravens teammates' fourth-and-goal defensive stand in the waning minutes, Brown beamed as the confetti flew. His Facebook page now features a profile picture of him on the flight home, embracing the Lombardi Trophy.
One ancillary benefit of the win is that he now has the ultimate comeback when his younger brother, current Marshall linebacker Evan McKelvey, ever beats him in Madden football. McKelvey may get the bragging rights on the video game console, but all Brown will have to do is flash his giant jeweled ring.
"For the record, Evan's not better than me, OK?" he said after his belly laugh subsided. "We go at it all the time, but I'm definitely going to use the ring."
Brown said he's excited for what next season holds, but he's still basking in the glow of Baltimore's big win. It's the dream of every Pop Warner player to win a Super Bowl. Brown burst out of the gate to make that dream a reality.
"It's a feeling you really can't explain," he said. "You feel like you're on top of the world. It's something you dream about, but you're not 100 percent sure you'll actually see that dream. But to actually live out a dream is amazing."
Contact sportswriter Derek Redd at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-1712. His blog is at blogs.dailymail.com/marshall. Follow him on Twitter @derekredd.