FOXBORO - Eighteen years ago, the last thing on Troy Brown's mind was whether he would be in the Patriots' Hall of Fame.
Then a second-year kick returner and wide receiver out of Marshall, his main concern was whether he'd be on the Patriots' roster at all.
"Considering how it started, I think a lot of people would be surprised that I made it 15 years with this team and this organization," said Brown, who will officially join 17 other players and one former owner in the Patriots' shrine on Saturday.
Brown was cut late in the 1994 preseason, a year after becoming an eighth-round draft selection, by then-coach Bill Parcells after a particularly poor series of performances on the return teams in preseason games.
"It was something I deserved," Brown said Thursday. "I didn't play very well in the preseason. I had the good fortune of talking with Bill for a long, long time at the (Pro Football Hall of Fame) when Curtis Martin got inducted, and we were talking about all those good times, and he was really proud of the way things turned out for me after all that stuff went down."
Brown was in Foxboro to be fitted for the red Hall of Fame jacket that he will wear at Saturday's ceremony (5 p.m. start), which will take place in the plaza next to the Hall at Patriot Place. He spent a few minutes reminiscing with media members about the highlights of a 15-year career (all with the Patriots) in which he earned a reputation for leadership and overachieving at anything asked of him.
Brown was one of three nominees (the others being Parcells and 1980s safety Fred Marion) selected this past spring by a committee of veteran media members and team personnel, and fans voted in record numbers to make Brown the 19th member of the team's hall of fame.
It's ironic that Brown would have to defeat the coach that cut him in the online voting to earn enshrinement, because he still holds Parcells in very high regard.
"Being cut is not fun," Brown said. "I was out for over half the season that year. I lost my number (he originally wore Stanley Morgan's 86, then got Irving Fryar's 80) But I've always had a lot of respect for Bill Parcells and the way he went about doing things.
"He's a tough guy and he had his beliefs and he stuck with them," Brown added. "That doesn't mean that I couldn't try to prove him wrong. It made me a better player, a better person and everything else."
Brown's accomplishments in those 15 seasons were numerous, including his receiving, kick returns and occasional forays as a defensive back. One of his team records, however, is likely to fall the day after his enshrinement, when the Patriots play the Arizona Cardinals in the home opener at Gillette Stadium (1 p.m.; Ch. 25, 64). He currently shares the team mark in receptions with 557, but Wes Welker will take over the lead with his first catch on Sunday.
Brown was highly regarded for plenty of other contributions. His return skills were a valuable part of the Patriots' attack, and none were more memorable than his 55-yard punt return for a touchdown in the 2001 AFC Championship Game at Pittsburgh.
"That was one of my all-time favorites because it was against Pittsburgh that was a huge, huge play in my career and in Patriots franchise history," Brown said. "Nobody gave us a shot, nobody expected us to win, and we went in there and handled our business the way we were supposed to."
Brown's former teammates have been quick to praise him this week for his leadership and work ethic.
"That means a lot," Brown said, "because that means somebody saw you as a good example. I watched a lot of guys. I watched everybody how they went about doing things, and things they said and did. I learned from that."
Some of the praise has been delivered in good-natured jest, however. At his midweek press conference on Wednesday, quarterback Tom Brady joked that Brown's claims that he might still be able to play should be tempered by what Brady said is a noticeable weight gain.
Brown did look a little bulkier on Thursday than during his playing days, which ended in 2007. He was also a little more realistic about his game-readiness, but said he still wonders if it would be possible to suit up for a few plays.
"Every once in a while I do," he said, smiling. "I could call Bill (Belichick) up right now and tell him I've got about four or five good ones in me although it's probably only really one. I could go out there and block somebody."
Brown said he was looking forward to capping his career with the Patriots - he deliberately chose not to say "ending" - with Saturday's ceremony.
"It will bring back a lot of memories," Brown said. "Hopefully I'll see a lot of familiar faces that I haven't seen in a while. This is a great way to cap that off I can't get any greater honor than this when you're a Patriot."