BRIDGEVIEW, Ill. – C.J. Brown won’t have a sendoff. He won’t have any fanfare at his last match. There won’t be a postgame, on the field ceremony in his honor. There will be no gifts; no speeches from teammates. There might not even be a standing ovation.
But that’s just the way the last remaining Fire original wants to have it. He’ll hang up the cleats his own way after the Fire’s season finale against Chivas USA on Saturday at the Home Depot Center.
Brown, 35, told reporters Thursday afternoon that he waited to announce his retirement until after the Fire’s last home game so that retiring teammate Brian McBride could be properly honored in his final match at Toyota Park.
[inline_node:320360]“Those that know me know I’m not big on being the center of attention,” Brown said in a conference call with Chicago media. “And when I heard Brian [McBride] announce his retirement … I didn’t want to get in the way of any of that. So I felt it was right to let him have his day.”
“I think I will have my time at some point,” he continued. “Honestly, just hearing the good things that people said about me is enough. I don’t need [the big celebration].”
Not that Brown doesn’t deserve to be honored. Affectionately called Mr. Fire by some fans, the San Jose State product has spent all 13 seasons of his MLS career in Chicago. He’s won an MLS Cup and four US Open Cups. He’s the Fire’s all-time leader in appearances. He even played 15 times for the US national team.
Brown lives and dies with the Fire. He’s the locker room’s undisputed leader. He’s constantly talking about the importance of the club’s motto of “tradition, honor and passion” – going so far as to tell reporters that they are the three words he tries to live by.
Given his deep connection to the club, it’s no surprise that Brown – who has coached in the Fire Juniors program for a number of years – wants to stay involved.
“I would love to be a part of the Chicago Fire,” he said. “My whole career has been about the Chicago Fire. I would do anything to be a part of this.”
”I want to get a shot in MLS as a coach of some sort,” he added. “I think I can help guys become better professionals and I feel like I’ve been in the league long enough to know what it takes to win.”
Regardless of where Brown ends up, Fire fans won’t soon forget his incredible contributions to the club. And he won’t soon forget what those fans meant to him.
“The fans have embraced me better than I’ve ever been embraced,” he said. “And I just want to say thank you to them for giving me the opportunity to play in Chicago.”