In his later years, Brown pursued a career in coaching. He was the defensive backs coach for the Seattle Seahawks from 1992 to 1998 and for the Texas Tech Red Raiders football team from 2001 until his death in January 2006.
As a sophomore, Brown started all 11 games at the safety position for the 1972 Michigan Wolverines football team that compiled a 10-1 record and allowed opponents to score only 57 points (5.2 points per game). Brown had three interceptions in 1972, including two interceptions in one game against Minnesota for 82 return yards. He also contributed 11 punt returns for 189 yards (including an 83-yard return for touchdown against Navy), 73 tackles, eight pass breakups and two fumble recoveries to the 1972 Wolverines. At the end of his sophomore season, Brown was selected as a first-team defensive back on the 1972 All-Big Ten Conference football team.
As a junior, Brown again started all 11 games at safety for the 1973 Michigan Wolverines football team that compiled an undefeated 10-0-1 record and allowed opponents to score only 68 points (6.2 points per games). Brown also returned 14 punts for 125 yards (8.9 yards per return), including a 53-yard return for touchdown against Michigan State. He also contributed 55 tackles and two interceptions. At the end of the year, Brown was selected as a consensus first-team defensive back on the 1973 College Football All-America Team.
As a senior in 1974, Brown once again started all 11 games at safety for the 1974 Michigan Wolverines football team that compiled a 10-1 record, finished the season ranked #3 in the final AP Poll, and allowed opponents to score only 75 points (6.8 points per game). Brown also returned 20 punts for 212 yards (10.6 yards per return), including an 88-yard return for a touchdown against Colorado. He also contributed 46 tackles, four pass breakups and four interceptions for the 1974 Wolverines. At the end of the 1974 season, he was also a unanimous first-team selection to the 1974 College Football All-America Team.
In three years at Michigan, Brown compiled 526 punt return yards (11.7 yards per return), three punt returns for touchdowns, 174 tackles, nine interceptions, 202 interception return yards, and 15 pass breakups. During those three years, Michigan compiled a 30-2-1 record, tied for the Big Ten championship each year, led the country in scoring defense twice (and finished second the other year), tallied 11 shutouts and gave up more than 10 points only five times. Brown was posthumously inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 2007.
In the spring of 1976, Brown was chosen by the Seahawks in the NFL expansion draft. Brown joined the Seahawks in their inaugural 1976 season and remained with the club for the first 10 years of the franchise's history. He appeared in 159 games for the Seahawks, all of them as the team's starting right cornerback. In November 1984, the Seahawks established an NFL record with four interception returns (including returns by Brown of 95 and 58 yards) for touchdowns in a single game against the Kansas City Chiefs. After the 1984 season, Brown was selected to play in the Pro Bowl and was also selected by the Associated Press as a second-team All-NFL player.
In his 11 years playing for the Seahawks, Brown established, and continues to hold, franchise records for interceptions (50), interception return yards (643), and interceptions returned for touchdowns (5). In 1992, Brown became the third player inducted into the Seattle Seahawks' "Ring of Honor".
In August 1987, the Seahawks traded Brown to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for a future draft choice. Brown played three years with the Packers from 1987 to 1989, appearing in 44 games as the team's starter at right cornerback and registering 12 interceptions. In July 1990, the Packers placed Brown on the physically unable-to-perform list due to tendinitis in his Achilles tendon.
In 15 years in the NFL, Brown appeared in 216 games, 203 of them as a starter. He registered 62 career interceptions, which ranks ninth in NFL history. He also registered 698 interception return yards and five interceptions returned for touchdowns.
Brown was married and had two sons, Aaron and Sterling, with his wife, Rhonda. On January 10, 2006, Brown died in Lubbock after suffering an apparent heart attack while playing basketball with his son, just six days shy of his 53rd birthday.