December 2, 1940 in Yazoo City, Mississippi

"Combine all of Willie's skills and the result is what myths are made of. He is a marvel to watch, a true artist at work." A sportswriter once wrote this after observing Willie Brown dominate another game from the secondary during his 16-year career.

Not a bad description for an undrafted, unheralded free agent who in 1963, came out of Grambling College looking for a chance to prove he belonged.

After becoming a starter six games into his rookie season with the Denver Broncos, Brown began to show why he did belong. Four years and 15 interceptions later, Brown was dealt to the Oakland Raiders. That day began a string of success for both Brown and the Raiders rarely seen in the history of the NFL.

For 12 years, Willie dominated the secondary for the Raiders, picking off 46 passes while "blanketing" the other teams best receiver, even while playing hurt. In the process, Willie was becoming the unquestioned leader of a dominant Raiders' defense. That leader from humble beginnings was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984.