ANAHEIM, Calif. -- A year ago, Ron Brown turned down a multi-million dollar contract offer from the Cleveland Browns. In return, he retained his amateur track status and his chance to qualify for the Olympics and chase a medal.
Thursday, Brown pulled his gold medal from his front pocket and handed it to Los Angeles Rams' owner Georgia Frontiere for a quick look. And she handed Brown a contract worth $1.7 million over the next four years.
Who said you can't have everything?
Brown, who won the gold medal Saturday as a member of the U.S. Olympic sprint relay team, reported to the Rams' training camp later in the day and showed off his talents.
'It was exciting to see him run some patterns,' head coach John Robinson said. 'The kid's a natural route-runner. You throw him the ball, he'll catch it. He's certainly not in the rudimentary stage. He has a natural abilty to cut -- a hitch step or whatever's involved in cutting. Most good receivers have it.'
Brown will see limited action Saturday night against the Green Bay Packers in an exhibition game.
'We will not set any timetable for him,' Robinson said. 'We're just anxious to get him on the field and have him become familiar with the team.'
Brown, a standout defensive back and wide receiver at Arizona State, has been projected as a starting wide receiver for the Rams. In his only season as a wide receiver at Arizona State, he caught just 19 passes, but averaged 20.8 yards per catch.
The Rams picked up the rights to Brown in the 1984 NFL draft, sending their second-round pick to Cleveland in return for negotiating rights. Cleveland chose Brown in the second round of the 1983 draft. The Rams had only seven days from Sunday -- the end of the Olympics -- to sign the speedster, or he would have gone into a common draft among all NFL teams.
As opposed to other NFL players, such as San Francisco's Renaldo Nehemiah and Chicago's Willie Gault, Brown has been described as a football player who ran track, not a track star eager to try football.
When he decided to pass up the chance for a big contract from the Browns to attempt qualifying for the Olympics, people were skeptical. But he made the U.S. team in the 100 meters along with Carl Lewis, and despite running with an injured knee, finished fourth in the Olympic finals.
But last Sunday, running with Lewis, Sam Graddy and Calvin Smith, Brown helped power the team to the gold medal and a world record in the 4 x 100 relay.
He said he might try out for the 1988 Olympic team, also, assuming by that time that professionals in one sport will be considered amateurs in another.But for now, football is the only thing on his mind.
'It's been a long time since I caught a pass,' he said before making his debut on the practice field Thursday, 'but I hope it won't look like it.'