Brown by Name, Brown(low) by Nature?

Nominative determinism has not been kind to this cohort of footballers

Nominative determinism is the belief that people tend to lean towards areas of work that fit their names. There are plenty of examples of this, including Usain Bolt (an Olympic sprinter) and Igor Judge (the former Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales). My personal favourite is this firefighter:



One thing came to mind when I was thinking about normative determinism in the AFL – has a player with “Brown” in their surname ever won the Brownlow Medal?

The answer, disappointingly, is no. No player with “Brown” in their surname has ever won the Brownlow. The closest any “Brown” has gotten (in recent times) was Jonathon Brown in 2009, where his 19 votes was good enough for fourth.

Table: Top five Brownlow performances by players with “Brown” in their surname, 1990-2022

Year Player Team Votes Rank
2009 Jonathan Brown Brisbane Lions 19 4
1998 Fraser Brown Carlton 18 8
2007 Jonathan Brown Brisbane Lions 17 10
2006 Jonathan Brown Brisbane Lions 13 10
1990 Bill Brownless Geelong 12 11

The former Lions superstar also holds the record for the most career Brownlow votes by a player with “Brown” in their surname (112), ahead of Nathan Brown (Western Bulldogs and Richmond; 57), Fraser Brown (Carlton; 48), Gavin Brown (Collingwood; 45) and Ben Brown (North Melbourne and Melbourne; 31).

It seems there have only been four “Browns” in 2023 – Ben (Melbourne), Callum (GWS), Tom (Richmond), and Tyler (Adelaide). I’m pretty confident in saying Jonathan Brown’s record for most votes in a year is pretty safe.

The timeframe of this stat is limited based on what data are freely/easily available and/or accessible. Please don’t hesitate to contact me if you spot any errors in what I have presented. As always, apologies to anyone who has already looked at this stat.