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Brown retires as Patriots' career-leader in receptions

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Troy Brown retired Thursday after 15 seasons with the New England Patriots in which he set a team record for most career receptions.

The wide receiver, who hasn't played this season, made the announcement at a news conference on Thursday attended by team owner Robert Kraft and coach Bill Belichick.

Brown spent his entire NFL career with the Patriots after they drafted him in the eighth round in the 1993 NFL Draft out of Marshall. His 557 career catches are first in team history and his 6,366 yards receiving are second to Stanley Morgan's 10,352. Brown played in one Pro Bowl, after the 2001 season.

He also played defensive back late in his career. In 2007, he played in one game in which he fielded six punts but had no receptions and didn't play defense.

Brown, 37, said that when he watches football on television, he sometimes thinks he can still play.

"It's been a part of my life since I was in second grade, 30 years," he said. "You can't outrun Father Time."

Brown spoke on a podium in front of a video screen showing highlights of his career. On the walls around him were eight large color photographs of him in action on the field.

"He always put team first. He stayed with the Patriots throughout his whole career" even though he could have gone to another team for more money, Kraft said.

Brown was primarily a kickoff and punt returner in his first four seasons, catching a total of 37 passes while never starting a game. But in 1997 he started six games and finished with 41 receptions. He caught 83 passes in 2000, then set a single-season team record in 2001 with 101 catches. Wes Welker broke that last season with 112.

In 2004, when injuries struck the secondary, Brown played in 12 games as a defensive back and intercepted three passes.

"He had some big plays for us on the defensive side of the ball," Belichick said. "Troy, we have so many great memories of you and all that you've done for this organization."

Brown, thought by some to be too small and slow to be an effective receiver, thanked Belichick "for just believing in me."

The Patriots let him become an unrestricted free agent after the 2000, 2005 and 2006 seasons, but re-signed him each time.

Brown began last season on the physically-unable-to-perform list before being activated with five games left. He was inactive for all but one, against Miami in the next-to-last game, and didn't play in the postseason.

With his wife and two sons sitting in the front row, Brown fought back tears.

"It's just kind of hard to let it go," he said. "I can't keep up anymore the way I used to."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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