CALGARY -- He is no longer the angry young man (well, for the most part, any-ways) who arrived in Calgary in 2007 as an NFL cut with a chip on his shoulder.
Instead, Brandon Browner has evolved into a leader. A captain. And even, as Stampeders coach John Hufnagel suggested, a father figure on the defence.
And the 25-year-old cornerback, a Canadian Football League all-star in 2009, is up to the task.
"It's my fourth season, so I'm not a rookie anymore," said Browner on Wednesday. "And we have a bunch of DBs in here who are very talented, and they remind me of myself when I got here -- young guys who can use some coaching from veteran players. So if that's the role Huff wants for me, I'm pleased to take it on."
Browner's physical skills have never been questioned, but in his early days, you never would have called him a rah-rah, leadership guy.
But that started to change last season when he was elected as a defensive captain and, since then, he's taken on more duties than just shutting down star receivers.
Take last week's Stampeder training camp mock game, for instance. He was one of the first on the scene to calm down fellow cornerback Dwight Anderson, who was involved in a brief scrap with rookie receiver Johnny Forzani and sent to the showers by Hufnagel as a result.
"I was trying to (calm down Anderson)," corrected a smiling Browner. "You have to. You have to stay together as a team. D.A. has all the talent in the world, and I understand the frustrations sometimes.
"And," added Browner with a chuckle, "I have a bit of an anger problem myself, you know? So you have to watch that stuff ."
As a 22-year-old rookie, he was a man of few words who didn't relish sessions with the media. These days, he doesn't necessarily seek them out, but he handles them with grace and patience, even extending warm greetings to familiar faces.
Part of that transformation was the result, suggested Hufnagel, of handling captain's duties last season.
"I think that played a large part in him assuming the role and not just being labelled a captain," said Hufnagel. "He relishes it. He's still a high-energy, high-emotion player, but he's become kind of a father figure for the younger players."
Browner put together another terrific season in 2009 -- the kind of season more notable for the lack of stats (just three interceptions, matching his career high), indicating a reluctance of opposing quarterbacks to throw to his side of the field. He earned his first CFL all-star honour in the process, and renewed speculation he was bound for the NFL, which craves players with Browner's blend of size (six foot three), speed and physicality.
But after getting workouts in Minnesota and Washington, but no offers, Browner sets his sights back on Calgary.
"I'm not disappointed at all," he said. "This is home for me. I like Calgary, I won a Grey Cup here, these are my teammates and my good friends, and I'm happy to be back, every year I come back. And I'm always excited to play ball. I'm having fun out there, which is the most important thing. It's coming together."
The maturity is even more evident when Browner is asked to discuss what happened with the NFL workouts; he politely declines to elaborate, preferring to keep his focus in Calgary, and while the NFL might still be in the back of his mind, he's now open to talking contract extensions with the Stamps as he plays out his option this season, and is thinking of Calgary in the long term instead of the short.
"I'd listen, for sure," he said. "We have another kid on the way, in September, and we'll make sure he's born in Canada so he has dual citizenship. And I'm getting to that stage where I'm getting past the NFL."
Good news for Stamps fans; bad news for CFL quarterbacks.
courtesy of www.calgaryherald.com
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