During halftime of last night's 0-0 draw against Real Salt Lake, Chicago Fire legend and current RSL assistant coach CJ Brown was the seventh member inducted into the Ring of Fire. Holder of the club record for all-time appearances and minutes played, CJ Brown and the Chicago Fire are practically synonymous. A combination of on-field grit and off-field class, CJ Brown is a perfect representation of the club motto "Tradition Honor Passion."
The tribute video said it all from the ones who knew him best. Frank Klopas, Logan Pause, and Gonzalo Segares all spoke of his heart and hard work ethic while rolling clips of CJ doing what he does best: annihilate opposing players while winning the ball. Former Fire captain and fellow Ring of Fire inductee Chris Armas was on the field to speak a few words to CJ and the fans about what the Ring of Fire means and how CJ was the ideal inductee. CJ took the microphone and thanked his family, the club, and the fans for everything. As the Section 8 fans chanted his name, that familiar off-field smile broke out.
Now with CJ Brown's jersey and "2" that he wore on the wall in Toyota Park, the memories of what he brought to the club live on. Surely one of the best is the Christian Gomez incident from the 2005 Eastern Conference playoffs. After an obvious dive from Gomez, CJ roared in Gomez's face letting him know how he felt about the dive. Gomez reacted poorly and spat in Brown's face resulting in an immediate red card. Another favorite memory of mine can only be described with a picture.
While talking to CJ after the end of the Fire-RSL Reserve League game in late March, he mentioned he is enjoying the current opportunity at Salt Lake, but loves Chicago like a home. If home is where the heart is, CJ will always have a home here in Chicago.
Do you have any classic CJ Brown memories? Feel free to share them in the comments below.