Patriots’ Troy Brown Learning These ‘Valuable’ Lessons As Shrine Bowl Head Coach

'It puts me in a spot where I've never been before'


Jan 29, 2023

Troy Brown is learning this week that the responsibilities of a head coach extend far beyond the field.

Brown, the Patriots’ wide receivers/kick returners coach, is serving as head coach of the West Team at the 2023 East-West Shrine Bowl, one of two marquee all-star games for NFL draft prospects. His staff is made up of fellow New England assistants, nearly all of whom are working with different position groups or in more prominent roles.

It’s a prime opportunity for the Patriots to do some hands-on draft prep. Last season, they drafted four Shrine Bowl alums, including second-round wide receiver Tyquan Thornton and fourth-round cornerback Jack Jones.

And for Brown, it’s a chance to experience just how all-encompassing Bill Belichick’s job is.

Belichick, Brown said, ceded control of the entire week to the Patriots Hall of Famer, tasking the 51-year-old former slot receiver with everything from crafting practice plans to mapping out when and how New England’s coaching contingent would travel to Las Vegas.

“It gives us the experience of a head coach, the best you can in this situation,” Brown told reporters after Sunday’s Shrine Bowl practice at UNLV. “All of the planning and all that stuff has been left up to me. … Everything from planning out practices to travel and everything else, the itinerary. I’ve been responsible for all of that stuff, so it puts me in a spot where I’ve never been before and an experience that I couldn’t experience any place else than doing it here.

“So that’s a valuable lesson that I’m learning about the head-coaching position: There’s other things that go on besides coaching football that you have to worry about. I don’t think I could get this experience any other place, and I’m able to do it here.”

Belichick and several of his top lieutenants, including new offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, are serving as supervisors during Shrine Bowl week.

Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Marquice Williams is coaching the East Team this week. Brown views this as an “important step” toward improving minority hiring for actual NFL head-coaching jobs.

“I can see it’s a start to the process of being able to put ourselves in that position,” Brown told reporters. “There’s so many things I didn’t know about that a head coach had to do. You just would never get that experience some other way. Doing it in a regular practice, you wouldn’t get that, but here, it’s an actual week-of-the-game situation. You’ve got to go through the whole process of prepping your team, prepping your coaches, making sure all the t’s are crossed and i’s are dotted.

“It’s just an entire process you’ve got to go through as a head coach to make sure everything’s right for your football team. I just don’t think I could get that doing it any other way. So, yeah, I think it is an important step for coaches like myself and minority coaches to be able to step up and prepare for the next level. I think it’s something they should continue to do because every little step we could make to making this thing right is a positive.”

Brown, who recently completed his third season as a full-time Patriots assistant, is relishing his chance to lead a coaching staff. But he admitted it’s been “harder than (he) thought.”

“It looks a lot easier on the outside than it is,” he told reporters. “Even as a coach on the staff, I don’t get to see everything that Bill goes through every week. So it’s a valuable lesson that I’m getting right now.”

The Shine Bowl participants will practice again Monday and Tuesday before taking the field at Allegiant Stadium on Thursday night. Kickoff for the all-star showcase is set for 8:30 p.m. ET.

Thumbnail photo via Screenshot via @ShrineBowl
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