He has nine Pro Bowls to his credit, eight of which came in consecutive years with the Bills, but former guard Ruben Brown considers his most recent honor on a par with those trips to Hawaii. Brown was named a member of the 21st class of the Great Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame Wednesday.
Brown is part of a 12 member class that includes another former Bills player that was honored posthumously in fullback Cookie Gilchrist. The group will be formally inducted in an early November ceremony this fall.
"This is truly an honor for me," he said. "A young guy coming from a place called Piney River, Virginia. I never thought I would've come to Buffalo and fall in love with it and say this is the place where I want to raise my kids and have a home. So I say to the committee and all of the guys that came before me, thank you for helping me find my home."
The perennial Pro Bowl lineman largely credits the people in the Western New York community for welcoming him and supporting him in his efforts to be a successful NFL player, while also making Buffalo feel like home for him.
"I'm totally flattered by it and I would say it's due to the family environment and the love that I received when I got here," said Brown. "It was all nurturing from everyone in the community to give me the best chance to succeed. Everyone wanted to truly see me become a good football player here and they all had a hand in that happening for me and now they're telling me I'm in the Hall of Fame. So there should be a pat on the back to the people in the community that made sure I got my work done."
Brown admits when he got the news of his forthcoming induction he was shocked. He never thought his career during an era when the Bills were no longer perennial Super Bowl contenders would make him a candidate for an honor such as this.
"I played offensive line and I didn't play on the winning teams of the Bills," he said. "We won some games and went to the playoffs, but it wasn't an era. I wasn't in an era. Jim (Kelly) was in an era.
"I cannot put in words someone else looking at your career and saying you did it really well. I'm like, 'Thank you for saying I did it well.' And they say, 'No, you did it well enough that we're going to put you in the Hall of Fame.' So I'm like, 'Whoa did I really?' So now I've got to think about and say maybe I was being a little too hard on myself."
From the time Brown began his professional life in Buffalo he immersed himself in community work, most notably for the Salvation Army, a cause he still champions to this day. Brown was the Buffalo Bills NFL Walter Payton Man of the Year in 1999, 2001 and 2002. He also was the winner of the Pro Football Weekly Humanitarian of the Year Award in 2003.
The former guard considers himself a Buffalonian now having spent the better part of the last 16 years in Western New York. It's also why being a member of the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame carries a little more meaning.
"It means a tremendous amount because my kids were born and raised here so they'll be able to tell their grandkids or show a picture of their dad on the wall," he said. "I feel like I'm a frontiersman. I set out from my homeland for new promise and I found it right here in Buffalo."
Brown is the 27th Buffalo Bill to be inducted into the Greater Buffalo Sports Hall of Fame and the fourth offensive lineman.