Trent Brown’s Turning Points Defined A Career
Brian Swane, Special to Canada West
EDMONTON – It’s become so entrenched in the Canadian sporting
lexicon that it actually has an entry in the Urban Dictionary.
On the television broadcasts where it originated the ‘TSN Turning
Point’ is a highlight play “that most in uenced the outcome of the
game”. But colloquially it has come to describe “a signi cant or life
For Trent Brown, both de nitions apply.
On September 23, 1989, Brown and the Alberta Golden Bears
visited the rival Calgary Dinosaurs at McMahon Stadium, where
they almost never won, for the annual North/South Shrine Game,
their only appearance that season before a national TV audience on
Brown was a fourth-year deep back who was an established
defensive force, but had almost never been used on the other side
of the ball.
With his team down a touchdown in the fourth quarter, Bears coach
Jim Donlevy put Brown in the o ensive back eld. First play, Brown
ran a wheel route and took the ball 58 yards to the house, resulting
in a tie score. Shortly after, Alberta forced a Calgary punt and the
Dinosaurs kicked it right to Brown, who returned it 38 yards to set
up the game-winning eld goal.
“It was quite a rush,” enthuses Brown, who swept game honours
and was interviewed post-game by a young Michael Landsberg.
Nearly three decades later, that unforgettable early fall day still
resonates profoundly for Brown, who gained a new con dence that
charted a new course for his football future.
“To win o ensive player of the game and defensive player of the
game in the biggest game of the year on national television, and
to hear the way that (the TSN broadcasters) were talking about me,
that was the absolute turning point,” Brown says with a sense of
wonder that time has not tempered.
Now a successful lawyer in his native Edmonton, the 50-year-old
Brown spent nearly a decade in the Canadian Football League with
14 CANADA WEST YEARBOOK
his hometown Eskimos, earning individual accolades and a Grey
Brown traces his evolution from raw U of A freshman to a
championship-winning CFL All-Star through speci c events that he
can recall with a clarity that speaks to their signi cance.
“They were turning points, big moments,” he says. “And when you
make big plays in big games, your team and your coaches start to
believe in you and they put you in more situations to make those
big plays. And when the people around you really believe in you,
that really helps too.”
The rst to notice Brown’s potential was his head coach at
Strathcona High School and later assistant coach with both Golden
Bears and Eskimos, John Belmont, who told the teenager that he
had the ability to be a CFL All-Star.
Brown, who hadn’t even taken up football until Grade 10, didn’t
“I remember one time a pass was thrown and went over my head
and I thought it was too high, and Johnny Belmont said, ‘You need
to jump and try on every play because you don’t know how good
you can be’,” says Brown.
Brown’s rst season with the Bears was 1985, when he tied for the
team lead with three interceptions and was used at times on special
teams. In 1986, he became Alberta’s primary punt returner while
leading the Bears and ranking second in the league with ve picks.
After taking the 1987 football season o , Brown returned to the
Bears lineup in 1988. The rst de ning moment of his university
career would come in Alberta’s season-opener at home against
“When I came back I started to do a lot of visualization and I went
out to the eld the night before the game and visualized myself
returning a kick for a touchdown,” remembers Brown.
“The rst punt of the game, it was like slow motion, they kicked
it to me and I caught it right where I had been out visualizing and
retraced those steps and ran it back for a touchdown.
“When that happened, I started to realize and believe that I could
take my game to another level. I started to talk to myself out