Sunday’s win over the Atlanta Falcons was emotional for the entire Chargers organization.
However, it’s impossible to imagine what it was like for Jatavis Brown, who took the field mere hours after learning his father had passed away.
Friday began as a big day for the inside linebacker, who learned he was voted the Pepsi Rookie of the Week for his performance Week 6 against the Denver Broncos. But as soon as he got on the plane, he got a phone call from his brother that everyone dreads.
Brown didn’t tell anyone but Head Coach Mike McCoy the news, making it clear he wanted to take the field Sunday in his honor. He did just that as one of only two Chargers to play all 65 snaps on defense.
The entire time, his father was never far from his mind.
“It was really emotional for me, but I knew he was in a better place,” Brown said. “I thought a lot about him, especially before the game.”
Few knew that Brown played with a heavy heart until after the win. As the Chargers celebrated, Head Coach Mike McCoy gave a victory speech praising the players’ spirit and courage to fight back from a 17-point deficit. Then, he gave a game ball to Brown while letting the team know what he was dealing with personally. All of his teammates then rallied around the rookie, offering support in an emotional time.
“That was very special to me,” he said with the moment still raw in his mind. “For coach to do that, and then the way my teammates (responded), it was (overwhelming). This is a brotherhood here. I care about every guy here, and I know every guy cares about each other.”
Brown last spoke to his father a few days before he passed away. Their conversation touched on numerous topics, including his game against the Broncos. His father expressed how proud he was watching his son on the field.
“I wouldn’t be where I am now without him,” Brown said. “Everything about him was special. He took care of me from the time I was born until the day he passed away. He meant so much to me. I learned everything from my dad. He taught me how to be a man. He was the kind of guy who cared about everybody, and he didn’t look for anything in return. He did everything he did in life for me and my family.”