FRISCO, Texas -- The Instagram post has since been deleted, but if you Google “Anthony Brown” and “tattoo,” the photo can be easily traced.
The Dallas Cowboys cornerback opted to symbolize the chip he carries on his shoulder as a sixth-round pick in 2016 with a tattoo of a potato chip and the number 189, his draft slot.
The reaction was not what Brown was expecting. Perhaps he could have come up with a different sort of visual. Maybe just the “189” would have been a more suitable reminder. But he has no regrets.
“Man, that was over a month and a half ago,” Brown said. “I’m over that.”
While somewhat anonymous internet posters had their fun saying things online they likely never would have said directly to Brown, the tattoo’s message was to remind himself of where he came from.
“If I got it tatted,” Brown said, “I’m going to carry it forever, so of course I’m going to carry it. Always.”
That’s what should be remembered most about Brown’s journey. He’s far from the only player to use his draft status as motivation.
Orlando Scandrick was a fifth-round pick in 2008 by the Cowboys. He still plays with a chip on his shoulder as he enters his 10th season. Jason Witten can recite the exact order of the tight ends selected before the Cowboys took him with the 69th pick in 2003: Dallas Clark (No. 27, Indianapolis Colts), Bennie Joppru (No. 41, Houston Texans), L.J. Smith (No. 61, Philadelphia Eagles), Teyo Johnson (No. 63, Oakland Raiders).
Witten is entering his 15th season.
As for Brown and the tattoo, the corner said, “It was just something that came in my head."
A year ago, few people knew who Brown was other than the basics: played at Purdue, grew up in Florida as a Cowboys fan, ran a 4.32-second 40-yard dash. The Cowboys felt fortunate to be able to select him in the sixth round; they had him graded higher than Round 6. In his first training camp practice, he intercepted Tony Romo. He ended up playing in every game and starting nine, with Morris Claiborne and Scandrick battling injuries.
Brown finished with 56 tackles, two tackles for loss, one interception, eight pass deflections and a forced fumble. He played outside cornerback. He played in the slot. He hardly played like a sixth-round pick.
Part of the reason the Cowboys opted to not make big bids to keep Claiborne or Carr was their belief in Brown.
A year ago at this time, Brown found himself swimming in information and wondering where he was going.
“OTAs from last year and this year, it’s much different,” Brown said. “It’s slowed down so much for me. I went from rookie to veteran like overnight, and I’m going to embrace the role and make the guys look up to me.”
The Cowboys selected three cornerbacks in the draft: awuzie">Chidobe Awuzie
awuzie">Chidobe Awuziein the second round, Jourdan Lewis in the third and Marquez White in the sixth. But Brown has the experience from last year and the confidence of the coaches.
“I knew they were drafting corners,” Brown said. “I mean, we didn’t have any corners. I knew corners would come sooner or later. I’m glad the guys are here so we can get better. Get those guys up to speed, and we’ll be ready.”
This year, Brown said, the game has slowed down for him. He understands route concepts better. He knows how to play with better leverage and knows where his help is. He said he can breathe.
But not so much that the chip on his shoulder will disappear.
Not when the Cowboys selected three corners.
“It brings more competition,” he said. “It brings more depth. It brings everything we need. You need competition to get better, so, I mean, I embrace it.”