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Originally published Thursday, September 18, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Former Seahawks kicker Josh Brown making new home with Rams

Former Seahawks kicker Josh Brown returns to Qwest Field for the first time since signing with the St. Louis Rams in free agency this past offseason. Brown hopes not everyone at the stadium boos him on Sunday.

Seattle Times staff reporter

RENTON — Josh Brown had his reasons for leaving the Seahawks. Some were driven by money. Some had to do with differences of opinion with people in the organization. And some had to do with family.

"It's a lot of things," Brown said Wednesday. "It's a lot of business, and there were things done and said, and the way they wanted to do things is not the way that I wanted to do things. Sometimes a fresh start is the best thing for a player. With the situation that was presented to me, that was exactly what I needed to do."

The fresh start for Brown happens to be in St. Louis, home of the Seahawks' NFC West rival. Brown signed a five-year, $14.2 million contract with the Rams on Feb. 29. Sunday he returns to Qwest Field for the first time as an opponent.

There were more incentives for Brown to leave. Being in St. Louis put him a four-hour drive to his parents' home in Oklahoma and allowed them to more easily attend his games.

"My father is getting up there in years and I wanted to be more accessible and easier for he and I to be with each other, and plus the opportunity to play in a dome," Brown said. "To say there was one thing here or there, it would be pretty tough."

Still, there are many who can't fathom why Brown spurned the chance to remain with the team that drafted him in 2003. The team that Brown saved many times with field goals — including four game-winners in the final minute of regulation or in overtime in 2006, two of those against the Rams. The team that wanted and tried to keep him, whose fans had come to love their kicker.

Brown said he hopes those fans don't serenade him with a chorus of boos and jeers on Sunday.

"I don't know what's going to come," Brown said. "I'm praying for 50-50. I'm praying I get booed half the time and 'Yea' on the other hand. I know I had a lot of fans there. I had a lot of great people that supported me, but then again there was a lot of people that were mad when I left."

Brown's beef with the Seahawks is that he felt like the impact he had on the team's record during his time in Seattle was underappreciated and undervalued.

Brown said he felt the Seahawks compared him to NFL kickers who were not of his caliber, and that because their numbers were better, the team didn't feel the need to pay Brown above them.

"I knew my stats. I knew my opponents' stats," Brown said. "I knew the argument I had, and I knew it was the best argument. They didn't see it that way."

The Seahawks made an offer to Brown before free agency began, but Brown turned it down. Now everyone has moved on. Brown is married with two stepsons, and he and his family have moved to St. Louis. He has a summer home at Lake Chelan, owns a pickup truck and is on a team that's glad to have him, in part because Brown beat the Rams so often with his kicks.

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Brown might be OK with his decision to leave the Seahawks, but the Rams are in a sorry state of affairs. They're 0-2 heading into Sunday's game and have the league's lowest-ranked offense and defense. Their coach, Scott Linehan, is on the hot seat after two blowout losses to start the season and an 11-23 career record, and ownership has said changes will be made if things don't get better.

Linehan celebrated his 45th birthday Wednesday and tried to put on a happy face, only there isn't much to celebrate.

"As we used to say in the old days, the night's young," Linehan said. "We're going to have to score more points and we're going to have to stop people on defense, it's that simple.

"We're close on some things, but close is one thing, executing's another. We have not had a red-zone snap in two games."

Seahawks coach Mike Holmgren misses Brown for his field-goal kicking but not so much for his kickoffs.

"I did not want him to leave. And I think he knows that," Holmgren said. "But if he's happy, good for him."

The one thing Brown can't shake from his Seattle days is being mistaken for Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Someone at a concert he attended in St. Louis thought he was Hasselbeck.

"It still happens," Brown said.

José Miguel Romero: 206-464-2409 or jromero@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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