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By Mike Sandrolini
PROVISO | The NFL career of Sergio Brown—a two-sport athlete at Proviso East (football and track) who also started at safety for Notre Dame in 2008 and 2009—got new life last season when the Buffalo Bills, needing help at safety, signed him in early November.
However, Brown was released by the Bills earlier this year, and has retired from football, according to his Instagram account. He recently announced that he is going to be an account manager in digital advertising space with Google, working with health care clients.
“No more training camp for me!!” Brown said on his Instagram account.
Brown, 29, signed a three-year, $9 million contract with Jacksonville as an unrestricted free agent in March, 2015. He played in 15 games for the Jaguars, making four starts, but he was released by the club in April, 2016. Last August, he was signed by Atlanta, but waived by the Falcons a week later.
Brown broke into the NFL in 2010 after the New England Patriots signed him as an undrafted free agent. He saw action in 25 games for the Pats over a two-year period (2010-2011).
Indianapolis claimed Brown off waivers on Sept. 1, 2012. He spent three years with the Colts (2012-2014)—his most productive seasons in the NFL. Brown played in 30 of the Colts’ 32 regular season games during 2012 and 2013. In his final year with the Colts, Brown started eight of the 15 games in which he played.
Brown played in a combined 10 postseason games with the Patriots and Colts over five consecutive seasons (2010-2014). He was part of the Patriots’ 2011 AFC championship team and Super Bowl squad that lost to the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI in 2012. He also faced his old team for the AFC title as a member of the 2014 Indianapolis Colts—a game that the Colts lost 45-7.
In an interview with the West Suburban Journal in May, Prater was optimistic that he would be in an NFL training camp this summer. After all, he took part in the New Orleans Saints’ training camp both in 2015 and last summer before eventually being waived each time.
Players are reporting to summer training camps across the NFL this week, but as of Monday, Prater has not been invited by any team. A few of Prater’s followers on his Instagram account are wondering why.
“How a team doesn’t invite a 6’5” 235 lb. meast who catches everything is beyond me,” said one follower (meast stands for half man, half beast as defined by urbandictionary.com).
“They (referring to the NFL) don’t recognize pure talent,” said another follower. “They recognize the worst players most of the time.”
“Three jeers to the @nfl teams that haven’t signed this dude!!” yet another follower posted.
Prater had a workout with the New York Jets in January, and ran some routes at tight end. At 6-5 and around 240 pounds, he has the size to become a tight end; Prater said he was open to making the switch. He certainly possesses the talent, with videos on Twitter and Instagram showing him running routes and even catching passes one-handed.
New Orleans signed the former Panther all-American wideout as an undrafted free agent in 2015 and he stayed with the squad into the preseason, but was waived in August of that year.
In February of 2016, the Saints signed Prater to a reserve/futures contract, and New Orleans took a second look at him throughout preseason. The club waived him in early August with an injury designation after he suffered an ankle injury in practice. Upon clearing waivers, Prater was placed on the Saints’ injured reserve list, but they waived him in late September.
Prater regularly works at training camps for high school varsity quarterback and receivers throughout the area (the camps are affiliated with Next Level Athletix Quarterback Training). He also recently spoke to Proviso West football players about overcoming adversity and the importance of character.
In addition, Prater has started his own film production company called Chasing Greatness Productions. Prater describes the focus of Chasing Greatness Production on the company’s website—chasinggreatnessproductions.format.com—this way:
“CGP’s work not only focuses on catching the world’s best Athlete’s, Brands, and Products. We focus on bringing all those things to life. Whether that is through lifestyle imagery, or just the perfect light. We like to capture the moments in which all these are expressed.”
After making the Calgary Stampeders’ 2017 roster in June, the former Proviso West and Indiana State star has helped the Stampeders to a 3-1-1 record over the team’s first five weeks of the season (CFL teams play an 18-game regular season schedule).
In his CFL debut, Thurman recorded four tackles and had a forced fumble as the Stampeders played to a 31-31 tie with the Ottawa Redbacks on June 23—a rematch of last year’s Grey Cup, which is the championship game of the CFL (Ottawa won the 2016 Grey Cup).
One of 23 international players on the Stamps’ squad—the designation given to players in the CFL who were born outside of Canada—Thurman overall has five tackles and two special-teams tackles. The Stamps host the Hamilton Wild Cats in their Week 6 game this Saturday night.
Thurman, who participated in the San Francisco 49ers’ rookie camp prior to joining Calgary, made quite a first impression with the Stampeders in his inaugural CFL games versus the British Columbia Lions on June 6. During the second quarter, he stripped the ball from the Lions’ quarterback deep in B.C. territory. The ball rolled into the end zone where a teammate fell on it for a touchdown, which is called a major in Canadian football. The Stampeders won the game, 23-18.
He also put together a solid game in the Stampeders’ second preseason matchup, a 36-35 triumph over the Edmonton Eskimos, recording four tackles (tied for third highest on the team for that contest).