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Nearly 10 years after he was drafted by the Carolina Panthers with their first pick in the 2009 NFL draft, Everette Brown is back on the payroll of the NFL team again.
The 2005 Beddingfield High graduate and Stantonsburg native was recently hired as the linebackers coach for the Panthers following an internship with the team during training camp last summer.
“This is definitely something that was orchestrated by God because I couldn’t have drawn this up myself, considering that 10 years ago is when I walked in the doors with a contract from the 2009 draft, to now being able to be on staff full-time as an assistant coach and to have the opportunity to help the team win games,” Brown said in a telephone interview Friday afternoon. “But in an additional way, as far as being a coach, it’s just really an awesome opportunity that I can take full advantage of because I know this didn’t happen by mistake.”
Brown was drafted in the second round, as the 43rd overall pick of the Panthers in 2009 as an All-America defensive end out of Florida State. However, he only played two seasons in Charlotte before being cut in the 2011 preseason. He bounced the league, playing part of seasons for six other teams before finally retiring before the 2015 season. It’s that experience that he thinks adds value to him as a coach — even one who is starting out at the highest level of the sport.
“I think that me going from team to team when I was playing and seeing in seven different organizations how things were done, a lot of that information really just stuck with me,” Brown said. “I think that really just helped me get in the position I’m in now.”
After retirement, Brown focused on his two Charlotte businesses — a Tropical Smoothie Cafe franchise and a luxury automobile rental — as well as helping his wife, Tenisha, a sports attorney, operate her Definite Sports Group, which focuses on representation for athletes. But the football itch hadn’t gone away and he applied for and was chosen to receive an internship as an assistant coach through the NFL’s Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship last February.
It helped that Brown, who played for head coach John Fox on his two seasons with Carolina, got to know Panthers head coach Ron Rivera, who started coming by Tropical Smoothie Cafe.
“Well, first his daughter came in and then she brought him in,” Brown said. “We never talked football other than just how good the Panthers were doing and just normal talk and nothing business-wise.”
However, there was no room in the coaching budget to keep Brown on the coaching staff after training camp ended in August.
“So it didn’t work out for me at that time to stay with the team. I went back to my daily routine,” he said.
But right after Thanksgiving, the Panthers fired defensive line coach Brady Hoke and cornerbacks coach Jeff Imamura. Brown was contacted by the team to return and finish out the season as a defensive intern.
“Very similar to what I was doing in the preseason except now it’s during the season and I got a chance to be involved with the game-planning and everything that entailed,” said Brown, who also sat in the booth during games and communicated with defensive coaches on the field.
After the season, Brown was offered the job as linebackers coach.
“It just happened organically; nothing was forced,” he said.
And the beginning, he hopes, of a long career as an NFL coach.
“That’s a goal of mine. That’s a thing,” he assured. “This is just the beginning. I’m very goal-driven so the sky is literally the limit.”
The key, Brown said, is “just proving yourself every day and being consistent and being the best that you can be and everything else will take care of itself.”
One major adjustment that Brown and his fellow Panthers defensive coaches will have to make is not having Julius Peppers holding down the line. The future hall-of-famer announced his retirement after 17 seasons last week.
“When it comes to Julius Peppers, he’s not somebody that you just replace!” Brown said. “You try to do the best you can but you’re talking about 17 years of playing in the NFL and 17 years of playing at a high level. He’s definitely a special player and a first-ballot Hall-of-famer when it’s his time.
“Julius will definitely be missed but coming in there’s a lot of great guys that are returning who actually had the opportunity to learn from Julius while they were playing. So I think they can take a lot of that wisdom that he left with the guys to play at a high level and know what it takes to win.”
And while Brown will be working with linebackers, he understands as well as anyone that the directive for defensive players is the same.
“You’ve got to have pass rushers who can get after the quarterback and get him on the ground,” he said.