As the Saugus football team gathered in the S building lecture hall on Friday afternoon before practice, head coach Jason Bornn stepped in front of the group and made a surprise announcement.
Jason Brown, the former head coach of Independence Community College in Kansas and star of the Netflix documentary series “Last Chance U,” walked through the door to an eruption of applause from the players.
Brown, who has known Bornn for years after the two scheduled passing tournaments together, was invited to speak to the team.
The Compton native spoke openly about the hardships of playing football and succeeding past the high school level, not just in the sport but in life in general.
“I’m the product of my environment, where I was raised you either got dragged through the mud or you did the dragging, big fish eat little fish,” Brown said. “The streets will teach you it is a results-oriented business, you can make a right or a left, toughening the skin and teaching the guys they are going to have some trials and tribulations, hiccups and bumps in the road. It’s a marathon not a sprint, I taught them those things and that’s what I continue to teach.”
Since leaving Independence Community College and television stardom, Brown has been traveling the country and talking to young football players, motivating and inspiring athletes while also being honest and straightforward.
Brown stressed the importance of never missing class or a practice and encouraged the Saugus players to sit in the front row of class. He repeated the mantra, “every single day is an interview,” making sure to get his point across that there is always someone watching. If players want to be recruited to a Division 1 college, they need to rely on themselves only, or be “the CEO of yourselves” as he put it.
“These guys get told a lot of lies growing up, but they don’t teach them how to go to class, teach them what the real world is going to be about,” Brown said. “I teach them little things, quit slouching in your chair, take your headphones out, that’s what a teacher will see. Make sure you don’t put your future in another person’s hands.”
Near the end of his speech, Brown shared with the team 10 rules colleges go by when it comes to recruiting, based on his experience. Some of the rules that could disqualify a player from being recruited include having a bad attitude, players who don’t mind losing and the No. 1 issue of bad body language.
Brown was a former JUCO All-American quarterback himself and played in the NFL and NFL Europe. In his three years at Independence Community College, he has helped 101 student-athletes reach a Division 1 college.
The former Compton College and Long Beach Cabrillo High School coach recently wrote a book titled “Hate Me Now, Love Me Later,” which was released on July 3.
The book has become a best-seller on Amazon and in addition to doing speaking engagements, Brown is also scheduling a book tour.
“The platform that I had I might as well strike while the iron is hot, got it going and now it’s a No. 1 best-seller,” Brown said. “It’s been well received, I’m appreciative, I’ll probably do a second one and tell some truths. It’s been an opportunity to teach and shed some light and to a fortune 500 company CEO to a coach to an average Joe walking down the street, I think everyone can gain something out of it.”
After Brown spoke to the team, he held a short Q & A with the team before dismissing them with a “win on three, win on me” chant he made famous on the show.
Some players then took pictures with Brown and he wished them well and good luck in the upcoming season. While he won’t be coaching anytime soon, he said he would continue to meet with high school teams, perhaps other Foothill League teams, and make it out to some games as well.
“I’ll come by, go to the games,” he said. “Hit the teams that I spoke to and come by and see those guys.”