'Touchdown' Eddie Brown tops Arena top 20 list

NEW YORK -- In celebration of its 20th anniversary season, the Arena Football League chose its 20 top players Wednesday. No, Kurt Warner wasn't No. 1.

While Warner is the most successful player to come out the Arena League and into the NFL, winning two NFL Most Valuable Player awards, he finished 12th in the voting by a committee of football executives, coaches, former players and journalists who cover the AFL. Warner was far behind Eddie Brown, whose 136 points edged Barry Wagner by one.

A two-time league MVP, Eddie Brown played his entire career with the Firebirds, from 1994-2000 in Albany, N.Y., -- the team won the ArenaBowl in 1999 -- and in Indiana in 2001. He retired following the 2003 season as the AFL's top career receiver for TDs with 303. He scored nine touchdowns in one game, a league mark, and had 949 career catches.

"Eddie Brown was simply the best receiver to play Arena Football," says Chicago Rush coach and committee member Mike Hohensee, who coached Brown in Albany. "I was fortunate enough to coach him and I know one thing about him that a lot of others don't: He is extremely intelligent. He is going to be a great coach one day.

"They called him `Touchdown' for a reason. I don't remember ever seeing him drop a pass in the end zone. He had tremendous focus and was one of those rare players that made me a better football coach. It was a privilege to coach him."

Wagner won six consecutive Ironman of the Year awards from 1992-97 and three ArenaBowls, one with Orlando in 1998 and two with San Jose in 2002 and 2004. Wagner is one of eight active players on the list.

Warner, of course, went from the AFL and NFL Europe to the St. Louis Rams and twice was the NFL's MVP, winning the Super Bowl after the 1999 season. In the AFL, he made two ArenaBowl appearances (1996-97), making the all-league team both years, and had a 30-10 regular-season record.

Also in the top 20 were George LaFrance, Jay Gruden (Buccaneers coach Jon Gruden's brother), Hunkie Cooper, James Baron, Sylvester Bembery, Sherdrick Bonner, Stevie Thomas, Dwayne Dixon, Aaron Garcia, Sam Hernandez, Cory Fleming, Greg Hopkins, Alvin Rettig, Randy Gatewood, Gary Mullen, John Corker and Bob McMillen.

The AFL season begins Jan. 27.