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New DC Brown Aims to Make a Point (or Two)

Don Brown, shown here when he was head coach at Massachusetts, broke his pinkie in college. Now he's always making a point with it. (By Nancy Palmieri - Associated Press)

Back when first-year Maryland defensive coordinator Don Brown was a running back at Norwich University in the late 1970s, he broke his left pinkie during a practice. At the time, the team trainer yanked the pinkie back into proper alignment, taped it up and sent Brown back onto the field.

Thirty years later, that left pinkie is sticking as straight out as it was the day he broke it. The finger is perpetually erect, an anatomical abnormality for which Brown said he frequently is reminded about in a joking manner.

"It won’t bend," Brown said. "Been like that since I was a player, a young whipper-snapper. I get a lot of ribbing about it. It’s great at parties and stuff. ... It's been busted, and I just never got it fixed."

Players said they know when Brown is really upset with them because points vigorously at them with what appears to be two index fingers on the same hand.

"He talks with the pinkie," redshirt freshman A.J. Francis said. "Everybody else's got the index finger. He's got two. He talks like he supporting the Texas football team, with both his fingers up."

Demonstrative by nature, Brown speaks in a flurry of hand and arm movements, frequently gesticulating to get his point across.

"He always talks with his hands," Francis said. "So much so that sometimes when we're on the field at practice, we'll get the play calls confused because he'll be talking to somebody else while he's trying to give us the play call, and he'll be talking with his hands and we'll be like: 'What? What play call is that? You ever heard of that play call?'"

While several people who formerly have played under or coached with Brown admit to occasionally giving him a hard time about the pinkie that never bends, they admit it expedites his process of getting people's attention. As his current players can attest, that much certainly is true.

"The first day I seen this guy his pinkie was standing straight out and I was like, 'What's wrong with Coach Brown's pinkie?' " senior free safety Terrell Skinner said. "He was like, 'Man, I broke it, I broke it, I broke it.' And I just started laughing because it never bends. It's always sticking straight out. It's kind of hilarious to us."

By Steve Yanda  |  August 11, 2009; 10:27 AM ET
Categories:  Football  
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