Travis Brown had to find a way to stay involved with football.
After a six-year NFL career, a one-year stint as a radio commentator for the NAU football team and a season working as an offensive coordinator at a Valley high school, Brown wasn’t sure how he was going to do that.
The former backup to NFL Pro Bowlers Peyton Manning and Drew Bledsoe was then approached by some parents who wanted Brown to tutor their young quarterbacks. Brown happily obliged and began giving a few lessons here and there.
Now, just a couple of years after he made a few parents happy, Brown has had a major hand in getting two former college quarterbacks NFL gigs.
“It’s interesting how it came together,” Brown said. “I had a few people approach me to work with their kids and do quarterback lessons. I thought it was a great idea and a way for me to stay involved with the game. I had some success working with them and then it just kind of evolved into me doing it more and more with guys of all ages.”
Before the 2009 NFL Draft, Brown worked with former Rutgers signal-caller Mike Teel, who was a sixth-round draft pick of the Seattle Seahawks. Teel’s agent was pleased with his client’s progress and then sent Brown another quarterback to work with in December when Fordham’s John Skelton headed to Phoenix.
Brown helped Skelton prepare for the NFL Scouting Combine and after a strong performance at the combine, Skelton was picked by the Arizona Cardinals in the fifth round of last month’s NFL Draft.
Brown and Skelton worked together three or four times a week, working on Skelton’s footwork when dropping back from center after Skelton worked in a shotgun-first offense at Fordham and on Skelton’s arm angle, among other things.
At 6-foot-5, 243 pounds, Skelton’s size jumped out at Brown when he first started watching film of the quarterback.
“I’ve seen a lot of guys at his size that don’t have a strong arm,” Brown said. “But when I saw him throw, I said ‘holy cow, this guy has some serious arm strength.’
“When I work with guys like John, obviously he’s made it to that point by being a really good quarterback. All I’m there to do is make them a little more efficient, help with the interview process they are going to go through and show them some of the drills they’re going to see.”
When Brown left the broadcast booth after the 2007 season, working with future NFL quarterbacks one-on-one is the last thing he thought he would be doing.
Brown was planning on joining NAU’s coaching staff, but that plan fell through. The former Lumberjack, who is the school’s all-time leader in passing yards (11,440) and touchdowns (86), decided to relocate his family to the Valley and took a job as the offensive coordinator at Peoria Sunrise Mountain.
But, for Brown, the time couldn’t have been worse.
His wife, Cory, was pregnant with twins and Brown’s two sons, Wyatt and Justin, were born prematurely. With his wife in the hospital and having three other kids to care for, juggling coaching with family life was a tough assignment.
“After that season broadcasting, I was thinking I was going to be coaching at NAU, but that didn’t work out,” Brown said. “So I ended up coaching at Sunrise Mountain and I really enjoyed it, but with everything going on, it was just way too much. I got out of coaching because it wasn’t the time for me to do it.”
That led to giving the individual quarterback lessons, which has now grown into the Travis Brown Quarterback School.
Brown works with quarterbacks from high school age and younger, giving individual lessons and also hosts camps to work on fundamentals. On top of that, he runs a youth football league of about 850 players at the Christ Church of the Valley, and runs a background company, Armored Assets, out of the Valley.
“I love it,” Brown said. “It gets me involved with working with younger kids and keeps me in football. The other thing that’s great is that it gives me a lot of freedom and I’m able to spend a lot more time with my family, whereas coaching is a huge commitment.”
Daniel Berk can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 556-2251.