At the juncture of another barrier in his long, winding football road, Cody Brown has seen his first XFL season cut short.
The Bellville alum attended a postgraduate academy before his junior college career landed him a spot at Arkansas State. From there he had a brief stint with the Jacksonville Jaguars but a torn meniscus barred that from continuing.
Instead, he tore up the short-lived Alliance of American Football before making all sorts of noise for the Houston Roughnecks, who did not suffer a loss over the shortened XFL regular season.
Brown was a key player in the league-leading defense which led him to believe “If it ends today (March 13) and the 2020 season is over, then the Roughnecks are the champions! We’re the inaugural champions,” he said in a phone interview.
His 24 combined tackles had him 18th in the league and third on his team, his two interceptions were second in the league and on the team, his three pass breakups was 12th in the XFL and third on his team and his four special team tackles ranked 19th in the league and fifth on his team.
Altogether, the Houston defense led the XFL in total tackles (321), sacks (15), pass breakups (31), forced and recovered fumbles (5) and overall turnover differential (+8).
In addition, the Roughnecks were the least penalized team in the league, losing only 187 yards on 25 penalties. The Tampa Bay Vipers were called for the most flags, yielding 348 yards over 39 infractions.
The eight total interceptions had Houston ranked second and its one defensive touchdown was tied for best in the league with the Los Angeles Wildcats and New York Guardians.
Brown did exactly what he wanted to do, he laid it all out on the field and showed he was deserving of another shot at the next level.
“If I haven’t signed a contract after this, hopefully (the Roughnecks) would love to have me back,” Brown said. “I know I would love to be back but right now I’m just trying to catch up to the moment. (With) everything shut down, pretty much everything’s at a standstill so we’re just waiting on word to get around to see the next steps, there’s been interest.
“Hopefully I can get back into the NFL,” he continued, “that was the main goal. That’s always been the main reason for it; sign a contract and stuff like that so that’s the main goal as of right now.”
His high school coach, current Bellville head football coach/athletic director Grady Rowe, feels Brown isn’t too far behind some of his teammates who have already signed NFL deals after the free-agency window opened at the beginning of last week.
“Hopefully Cody has shown enough,” Rowe said in a phone interview on March 13. “I think he has done that and he'll get an invite and a contract and get his opportunity to play. I know he was with the Jaguars before he tore his meniscus and was released there and then had this opportunity in the XFL like so many others but Cody has done a great job. He's a kid that's taken the long road; he worked his way to what looks like will be a shot in the NFL.”
At the end of the day, all he wants to do is strap on the pads and fly around a football field.
“I just want to play football,” Brown said. “At first they said no fans and I was like, ‘OK, the game won’t be as electric,’ but I just wanted to play football. I was all about that but suspending the league (was tough). If there’s a chance to play football, I’m all for it.”
In the beginning, plans were still in place to possibly hold the playoffs and crown a champion at Houston’s TDECU Stadium in late April but with more and more updates coming out, that is seeming less and less possible.
“I've heard that if it's possible they would like to, depending on the timeframe from now and when they get everything situated, that they would like to finish the playoffs,” Brown said. “I'm not sure how they would do it but that's just what I heard.”
No matter what, looking back on the 2020 season will surely bring plenty of positive memories in Brown’s eyes.
“In all seriousness, it was a great experience,” he said. “It exceeded my expectations for sure, I didn’t know it was going to come out and be that successful from the very beginning. So, just being part of that experience was great too and I’m pretty sure 2021 will be a lot better and bigger things. More people saw what they wanted to see from it and saw the productivity and the level of play so I think 2021 will be a lot better than 2020.”
He added he’ll always appreciate the new brothers he gained who added onto his football family.
“Play with them, play against them; football is one big family and seeing guys every single day, you have no choice but to be close with at least a couple of them,” Brown said. “I definitely will stay in contact with a lot of the guys, I’ll be hoping nothing but the best for them and may God bless them with another opportunity in whatever they want to do further.”