As he walked off the field, Pharaoh Brown was unhappy with his practice day. Day after day he was making amazing catches, but not today.
“Probably one of my worst days of training camp,” he said as he unwrapped the tape from his fingers.
Brown made no apologies, but her night was spent in the hospital. A worried father sleeping next to his two-year-old son who underwent emergency surgery after a routine medical checkup revealed a staph infection. His son was fine, he said. Brown hadn’t missed a day of practice at training camp, wanting to be there for both his family and his teammates.
“Overall, I think I had a good training camp and was able to earn the trust of the coaches and the quarterbacks,” Brown said. “And that’s really what it boils down to first. So that during the times, the times when we need to play on offense, they believe that I can go out there and do them. So I think that I was able to show that and I just want to keep building on that.”
Two weeks ago, before the medical emergency with his son, Brown showed up to training camp looking visibly fitter and faster. During the offseason, he made some changes to his diet, motivated by what he saw last season.
“Last year, just watching myself in a movie, I was moving like treacle,” Brown said. “I wasn’t athletic. I wasn’t explosive. Right now I’m 262 and I feel good, I feel fast. Like I said, it was all part of the plan.”
Brown’s diet was healthy, aside from his love of sauces (especially Sweet Baby Ray’s), he admits. He also managed to drop his body fat from 18% to 14.9%, aiming even lower by the start of the season.
“I really leaned on our people here, Ladd (Harris, team wellness director) and everybody, and I just kept doing what they said and he kept saying , don’t worry about it, don’t worry about it,” Brown said. “It was kind of like when I came back, it happened. I just credit the process and the support from the people here.”
Brown also became lighter mentally. The frustration of his performance last year was the impetus for the veteran to achieve mental clarity. The 2021 Texans offense has struggled, as has Brown, who didn’t find the end zone at all in his fourth season but drew numerous penalty flags in his 15 games played.
“What was happening was very unusual for me and myself in my career,” Brown said. “So it was like a learning lesson to be able to be aware of it. And I had kind of a nervous breakdown after the season, just like a rush of things. You know, as men and we like to let these things build up and like we’re tough we’re tough I think just having this mental breakdown and it was one thing to go out and get therapy and start finding ways to clear my mind, to understand and work on it.”
Brown went on a retreat with a shaman to clear her negative thoughts, heal, and move forward with purpose. When asked, he says the key to happiness for him is helping his team win games. When the team wins, he wins, his family wins, the fans win. Now more motivated than ever in Grade 5, Brown is looking to see his off-season work translate to the field at the start of the season.
“I learned a lot last season,” Brown said. “What I got out of it was just my mind, so after the season I did a lot of things, just having the right mind, having the right body, just doing everything right. Last year , it wasn’t one of my best years. I really just released a totally different player. I think it was a learning lesson, and you go through it, everything. You have setbacks and it kind of helped propel me to where I am now.
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