FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Ronnie Brown enjoys giving back to the community. The running back likes to lend a helping hand to kids whenever he can.
He created The Ronnie Brown Project, which is a comprehensive program consisting of specific initiatives designed to address critical issues and challenges faced by the youth of South Florida on a daily basis. One of his programs is 23 Ways to Stop Youth Violence, which is an anti-violence campaign aimed at middle school and high school students
Last week, I caught up with Brown at a park for a football camp to support the Jason Taylor Foundation. Taylor and Brown were helping to instruct about 150 kids ages 7-14 doing a variety of drills.
“It’s exciting,” Brown said. “To come out here and give your time back, it means so much to the kids. When I was a little kid, I never had a camp to go to. I think it’s pretty good to give these guys a chance to come out here and exercise and utilize their time in a positive way.”
Added Taylor: “We try to do as much as we can and spend some time with each kid. We have a great football camp. It’s kind of become seamless where it runs itself. It’s great this year to have Ronnie Brown join us with it.”
Taylor and Brown were former teammates with the Dolphins, and they might have something else in common soon. Taylor left Miami last season to play with the Jets – he said one kid at the camp called him a traitor – and Brown, a free agent this offseason, could also be looking for a new team.
He understands that his six years with the Dolphins might have come to an end. He knows a lot could change depending on what happens with the lockout, but Brown is prepared to move on if that’s the next phase of his career.
“It’s tough,” Brown said. “You don’t know what your future holds. I’m excited about it, but at the same time you don’t know what to expect. It’s an exciting time to see what’s next with your future, but at the same time it’s kind of weird not knowing what’s going to happen.”
Brown said he would welcome a return to Miami, but the Dolphins might want to start fresh in their backfield. Coach Tony Sparano said this past week that the team might explore free agency or look to the draft for their starting running back in 2011. Ricky Williams, like Brown, is also a free agent and could be gone.
For Brown, he wants to go somewhere where he can “win and win championships.”
“Obviously, I’d like to be back with the Dolphins, but at the same time it’s a business decision on both ends for them and me,” Brown said. “Whatever fits for me and makes sense for everybody that’s what I’m open to. At the same time I want to win, so that will probably weigh into my decision as well.”
He also wants to be a significant factor on offense.
“I want to be somewhere where I can utilize my talents as far as trying to do everything. Whatever situation, whether it’s here with the Dolphins or somewhere else, I want to make sure I’m in a situation where I can play and be utilized as a player. … I want to be an every-down back. I want to play first, second and third down. Whatever I’m called to do, I feel like I can do it. I have a lot of confidence in myself in that area.”
Brown, 29, is coming off a disappointing season in 2010 when he played 16 games for just the second time in his career and finished with 200 carries for 734 yards (a career-low 3.7 yards per carry) and five touchdowns and 33 catches for 242 yards and two fumbles.
He still has the potential to be a quality running back and a starter, and where he plays in 2011 will determine his Fantasy value. In the right situation, Brown could remain a No. 2 Fantasy running back, but he will likely be drafted as a No. 3 option in the majority of leagues with a mid-round pick.
Off the field, Brown plans to continue his charity work, whether he’s in South Florida or somewhere else. Like Taylor, he’s not going to stop giving back just because he might not be with the Dolphins any more.
For more on The Ronnie Brown Project, visit his website at theronniebrownproject.org.