"Just because I play football, I'm still a human being. I'm not above anyone," Brown said. "I'm the same old person I was before I got to the NFL. I was a fan of players and if I could reach out to players, I wanted them to reach back out to me. I don't really like to call them fans. I call them 'supporters.' It means a lot to me and humbles me to appreciate the blessing."
Perhaps the most tangible example of that support comes in the form of a portrait of Brown painted by local Titans fan Sarah Beth Bills. Sarah categorizes her family -- especially her brother Carter -- as "huge Titans fans." She is a graduate of Austin Peay State University in Clarksville and teaches art online at H.G. Hill Middle School in Nashville.
Knowing Sarah has been painting since middle school, Carter asked her to do a portrait of Brown for him. He bought all of the supplies for the job.
After looking at a bunch of pictures of Brown, Sarah and Carter settled on one from the 2019 NFLPA Rookie Premiere event.
"It's just a great picture. The quality of the image is really good," Sarah said. "That was a great one from his rookie shoot. We just loved the style of it and it shows his character a little bit."
The portrait was done using water-mixable oil paints. It was Sarah's first time working with that type of paint and it was her first large-scale painting. The portrait took about three months to finish.
Sarah posted pictures of the painting on social media as she worked on it. Little did she know it would spark a response from Brown.
"It's been a really incredible experience," Sarah said. "He eventually saw it and wanted to come sign it. He'd message me and comment like, 'Hey, that's dope!' He was so cool during this process."
Amazing talent . I'll sign it for you .😍🤞🏽 https://t.co/Mm45LGAzWi— AJ Brown (@1kalwaysopen_) January 13, 2021
Numerous paintings of Brown have been done and posted on social media. He responds to most that come across his social media timeline, but Sarah's stood out.
"When I looked at the picture, I saw that it was just amazing," Brown said. "I just felt it was such a cool photo and wanted to retweet it and sign it for her since she put in the hard work to paint it. I knew I could easily sign it and figured that would put it over the top for her."
Arrangements were made to get the painting signed. But a small obstacle arose when it was time for Brown to meet with Sarah and Carter. Carter and their father, Bo Bills, were on their way to the meeting spot when they got a flat tire.
Sarah arrived on time and met Brown, but the portrait was still en route. Brown hung out for "about 20 minutes" and signed some other things for Sarah.
Thanks for signing my painting today AJ you are the best! pic.twitter.com/47hjyD1rHt— Sarah Beth Bills (@Sarah_beth_b) January 27, 2021
Carter eventually arrived with the painting via Uber. Seeing the final result in person impressed Brown even more.
"When I really got up on the picture, I saw the long hours she put into it because of the details in it. She had my chains correct, just the details," Brown said.
It was also a special moment for Sarah.
"It was so cool to get to see his reaction. He was shocked to see the results of the painting," Sarah said. "It speaks so much to his humility and the fact that he's so down-to-earth. It makes you want to love him even more. He's such an awesome guy. He's got the talent and then to see that personality and kindness coming through. It meant the world."
Sarah got inquiries about selling the portrait, but she turned them down. Because of the special memories associated with the artwork, it's staying in the family at Carter's house.
Seeing the portrait in person made Brown want one for himself, so he commissioned Sarah to do a painting for him. Having followed Brown so closely on social media, Sarah saw how much he loves his soon-to-be 1-year-old daughter, so she made the suggestion to do a portrait of them.
Brown gets to follow the progress on social media and has already messaged Sarah to compliment her newest work.