Editor's note: This is the fourth in a series of stories that looks at life after sports for former local athletes who made headlines years ago.
Charlie Brown never forgot his roots. That's why he has spent more than two decades educating, coaching and mentoring youths. He was a star on three football stages: High school, college and the NFL, but he's just as happy seeing a pupil graduate than score a touchdown.
"I got certified as an educator in 1989, just before I retired," said Brown, 51, a former star at St. John's High School, South Carolina State and for the Washington Redskins. "I wanted to make sure I gave back. I wanted to make sure I helped keep kids on the right path. I wanted to help them reach their dreams. It didn't have to be just about football."
Brown, who now resides in Florence, became an icon playing football for the legendary Bob Biggerstaff at St. John's and headed to Orangeburg to play for South Carolina State. He'll never forget his official visit to S.C. State when he met Hall of Famer Harry Carson, who was one of the greatest players in the school's history.
"That was an experience," Brown said. "He turned out to be one of the greatest players in NFL history, and he took time out to meet me, to introuduce himself. That made an impression."
Brown developed a reputation at the Orangeburg school and impressed NFL scouts with his speed and dependable hands. He was taken in the eighth round -- the 201st pick -- of the 1981 draft. He had immediate success, helping the Redskins win Super Bowl XVII in his rookie season. He caught 32 passes for 690 yards and eight touchdowns to earn All-Pro honors.
"As a kid, you always dream of playing in the Super Bowl," Brown said. "But to actually do it is something else. There's no other feeling like playing in front of 103,000 fans and millions more on TV."
Brown also made All-Pro his second season with the Redskins. He caught 78 passes for 1,225 yards and eight touchdowns. But his career lasted just four more years, including the final three with the Atlanta Falcons.
He finished with 220 catches for 3,548 yards and 25 touchdowns.
"I knew I would have some success, but I didn't expect it to come so early," Brown said. "I was fortunate to have success at all levels. I had some great coaches, great mentors and that's what I wanted to do after I retired."
He currently mentors youths in the Florence area and was a football coach at Savannah High School prior to that.
"We didn't win a lot of ballgames, and I knew we wouldn't," Brown said. "I coached there from 2005 to 2009 and we had a 100 percent graduation rate.
"We didn't win on the football field, but we did in the classroom. I sent 13 guys off to play college ball. We hadn't had a player go off to play college ball since 1997."
Brown is married, and his wife, Tonya, is a news reporter for one of the Florence/ Myrtle Beach television stations. He has two sons. His oldest, Charles, is 25 and attends graduate school. His other son, Marquise, played football at Georgia.