Chelmsford OL Thomas Brown extends family tradition – Boston Herald > Massachusetts

When Thomas Brown takes the field on Thanksgiving morning, he will be building on the legacy of a storied footballing family.

A sophomore lineman, Brown is the youngest in a famous football family that not only played for Chelmsford, but is also rooted in the Thanksgiving rivalry between Chelmsford and Billerica, which dates back to 1927.

He will have a chance on Thursday to cement himself in program history as an integral member of a Chelmsford team looking to capture the small Merrimack Valley Conference crown for the first time in 11 years.

“I’m very excited to be a part of this cause,” said Thomas. “I’m proud that I can now be a part of it.”

Thomas quickly emerged as a freshman, knowing that his strength, footwork and physicality would make him an elite lineman. He was accepted by his older teammates, but his real break on the scene came during his first winter when he won div wrestling championships. 1 north section, Div. 1 State and All-State Finals.

“Football is the main reason I wrestle,” Thomas said. “It helps with my hands, footwork and conditioning. Handfighting in wrestling is pretty much the same as offensive line.”

It’s easy to see how Thomas fell in love with the game of football. Everywhere Thomas turns, there is a family member who has been at the center of one of Massachusetts’ most classic rivalries. Bob Brown Sr., Thomas’ grandfather, was a star captain for Billerica and led the Indians to a 1958 Thanksgiving Day victory over Chelmsford.

Thomas’ father, Bob Brown Jr., was one of the leading linemen to come through Massachusetts in the last half century. In the late 1970s he played for Chelmsford and was part of the 1978 Lions team that reached the Super Bowl. He also helped guide the Lions to a Thanksgiving win over Billerica in his senior year. His college career in Pittsburgh was filled with incredible opportunities. He blocked for Dan Marino, one of the most famous quarterbacks in football history, while playing in the Sugar, Cotton, and Fiesta Bowls.

“It’s so fun reliving those days,” Brown Jr. said. “It’s been such an amazing time in my life.”

These days, Brown Jr. patrols Chelmsford as an assistant coach on George Peterson’s staff. It’s a source of energy and pride as he tries to recreate those powerful high school moments Thomas enjoys.

“For all of those great college moments, I don’t think I’ve ever had the same experience as a high school football game, especially the Chelmsford-Billerica rivalry,” Brown Jr. said. “It’s more of a college job. It’s all about football here and you’ll never have that experience again.”

For his part, Thomas is quick to point out that his father is never shy about giving the occasional tip, whether it’s on a car ride home or at a family-run movie session. At 6’1″ and 260 pounds, he knows he has a huge physical advantage over any of his opponents. It’s about mastering the technique.

“Every Saturday after a Friday night game, we sit on a couch and watch movies for two hours,” Thomas said, smiling. “He yells at me with technique tips. It’s great to have a father who knows all the aspects and knows what he’s talking about.”

Thomas’ college attention has already skyrocketed as he has received interest from a number of Power 5 schools, including his father’s alma mater. However, Thomas only cares about how to brag at Thanksgiving dinner. Thomas’ father and uncle never lost to Billerica. His older brother, Bob Brown III, was a member of the last Chelmsford team that defeated Billerica for the league title in 2005. His other brother, Willy Brown, defeated Billerica in 2007 en route to a Super Bowl.

“He wanted to up the ante on them at the Thanksgiving table,” Brown Jr. said. “None of them have their wrestling names on the wall like Thomas does.”

Now he hopes to be able to keep up with them on the football pitch.

“They’ve won more Billerica games so there’s no real argument for me at the moment,” Thomas said. “Hopefully that changes.”