Former Ravens tackle Orlando Brown dead at 40

Tackle Orlando Brown (77) practices during Baltimore Ravens training camp on August 8, 2005 at McDaniel College in Westminster, Maryland. Photo By Jamie Squire/Getty Images

BALTIMORE - Former Baltimore Ravens offensive tackle Orlando "Zeus" Brown was found dead Friday at his Baltimore home. He was 40.

The cause of death wasn't known.

Fire spokesman Battalion Chief Kevin Cartwright said firefighters were called about 11 a.m. Friday because Brown was unresponsive at his home near the Inner Harbor. Cartwright said Brown was dead when firefighters arrived.

Police spokesman Anthony Guglielmi said firefighters called police, routine procedure in such cases. He said there were no signs of trauma or suspicious activity.

The Ravens learned of Brown's death during practice.

"We send our condolences to the family of Orlando Brown," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. "Everybody knew what he meant to this organization. We're forever grateful for what he did for the present team. We can't express enough sorrow for his loss."

Brown began his career with the Cleveland Browns in 1993 and played twice for that team, as well as the Ravens, ending his NFL playing days in 2005.

Ravens director of player development Harry Swayne, Brown's former teammate and fellow tackle, called Brown "a big old puppy dog with a little bit of a bark.

"He had a lot of friends around the league. He was one of the best guys. It's a tough loss."

Brown always will be remembered for shoving official Jeff Triplette in a 1999 game between Cleveland and Jacksonville.

Brown was suspended for knocking down Triplette after the official threw a weighted penalty flag that accidentally struck the massive tackle in the right eye. The 6-foot-7, 350-pounder stormed onto the field and pushed Triplette.

Brown, whose father was blind from glaucoma, said concern for his eyesight caused him to confront Triplette. Brown was hospitalized for six days with bleeding behind the eye, and the NFL suspended him for two weeks.

He missed the next three seasons because of the injury, returning to football and the Ravens for the 2003 season.

CBSSports.com's Mike Freeman says Brown should not be remembered for that one unfortunate incident.

"Brown wasn't without flaws just like the rest of us but he shouldn't be remembered for that one incident," Freeman writes. "Remember him in total context. A great offensive lineman who never quit, who never stopped, had the unending loyalty of his teammates, long after he left football, and was one of the NFL's great fighters."

Ravens linebacker Terrell Suggs played with Brown for three seasons.

"It's disturbing, man," Suggs said. "We don't even know the cause of death. It's just sad. He was a beast on the field and a gentle giant off of it. It's just very unfortunate that he had to leave us so young. My heart goes out to his family."

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