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Former NFL, Wisconsin running backs coach Gary Brown passes away

"He lit up every room he walked into and touched the lives of those who knew him, loved him," Jerry Jones said.

Former NFL and Wisconsin running backs coach Gary Brown has died, it was announced Sunday. He was 52 years old.

"I am deeply saddened by Gary's passing," Wisconsin head coach Paul Chryst said. "Though he was only on our staff for a year he had a profound impact on our players and our program. We are all better people for having known Gary. He was a tremendous person, a terrific coach and a joy to be around. He had great energy and passion for life and that showed every day. My deepest condolences go out to his wife, Kim, his children, Malena and Dorianna and Tre, and his entire family, his friends and everyone who loved him."

Brown spent the 2021 season after 11 seasons at the NFL level, four with the Cleveland Browns and seven with the Dallas Cowboys.

“Gary Brown had a big heart partnered with a big smile and a big personality,” Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said. “His energy and spirit were infectious. He lit up every room he walked into and touched the lives of those who knew him, loved him.”

An eighth-round pick in the 1991 draft out of Penn State, Brown crafted a 9-year NFL career before joining the coaching ranks. His first job came as the offensive coordinator at his alma mater Williamsport (Pa.) High School before taking the running backs job at Lycoming College in 2003. By 2009 he was in the NFL after stops as Susquehanna University and Rutgers.

In Dallas, Brown tutored DeMarco Murray and Ezekiel Elliott to NFL rushing crowns.

Brown was twice diagnosed with cancer. His most recent diagnosis came in 2020, when a malignant tumor was found near his pancreas. He took that season off from coaching before returning to the game with Wisconsin in 2021. Health issues prevented Brown from accompanying the Badgers in their Las Vegas Bowl appearance. 

Brown is survived by his wife, Kim, and their three children.