By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com
Browns Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown had a special career.
So it seems only fitting that his final game was special, too.
It was on Jan. 15, 1966, that he was named the Outstanding Back in the Pro Bowl, rushing for 65 yards and three touchdowns in 21 carries as he led the East, coached by Cleveland’s Blanton Collier, past the West, 36-7, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
It was the third time that Brown, who made the Pro Bowl in all nine years of his career, had won the award. He also did so in 1962 and ’63.
Brown, who won the NFL rushing title in each of the last three years of his career, and eight times overall, en route to setting a league record with 12,312 career yards, had been held to 50 yards in 12 carries two weeks earlier in Cleveland’s 23-12 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the 1965 NFL Championship Game. So his Pro Bowl effort enabled him to go out on a high note – though no one knew then he would soon be getting out of the game to pursue an acting career. He did not announce his retirement until just before the start of training camp in 1966.
Also on this date, Jan. 15, through the years:
*In 1956, another Browns Hall of Famer, Lou Groza, had a big performance in the Pro Bowl, kicking a 50-yard field goal and four extra points in the East’s 31-30 triumph over the West. Groza joins Jim Brown with nine Pro Bowl trips, the most in Browns history.
*In 1961 in another Pro Bowl, Milt Plum, coming off one of the best seasons ever by a Browns quarterback, showed his stuff by throwing a 51-yard TD pass to St. Louis Cardinals wide receiver Sonny Randle in the East’s 35-31 loss to the West.
*In 1962, Blanton Collier returned to Paul Brown’s Cleveland staff as an assistant coach. Collier, a Kentucky native with a keen football mind, had served on Brown’s first eight Cleveland staffs, from 1946-53, before leaving to head home and become coach at the University of Kentucky. The school had let him go following the 1961 season.
*In 1952, Gerry Sullivan was born in Oak Park, Ill. A seventh-round choice of the Browns in the 1974 NFL Draft out of Illinois, he was one of the most versatile players, especially along the offensive line, the team has ever had. In an eight-year career that ended with his retirement following the 1981 season, he played center, guard and tackle and also served as long snapper. He was an ironman to boot, playing in all but one game during his career, and in every contest in his last seven years.
*In 1966, guard Ben Jefferson was born in New Rochelle, N.Y. He played in just four games in his career, all with the Browns in 1990. But that’s not the point. Rather, it is that in earning a roster spot, he became the biggest player to that point in Browns history at 6-foot-9 and 300 pounds. Ironically, he took the distinction away from one of his teammates, 6-8, 290-pound defensive tackle Chris Pike, who held it for just one season after coming to the Browns in 1989. Pike’s last season with Cleveland was 1990.
*In 1968, guard Bob Dahl was born in Chicago. A product of Chagrin Falls High School in the Cleveland suburbs and Notre Dame, he was a third-round choice of Cincinnati in the 1991 NFL Draft but never played for the Bengals. He went to the Browns the following season and stayed with them for four years before the franchise left for Baltimore at the end of 1995. He was a part-time starter at left guard with John Rienstra in 1992 and then took over full-time at right guard from 1993-95.
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