This Day in Browns History: Jan. 30

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 31, 2012 – 2:06 am

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Cleveland Clinic presents This Day in Browns History.  If you call 1.800.274.2009, Cleveland Clinic will schedule an appointment for either the same day or the next day, including Saturdays.  Call to learn more.

Greg Pruitt might have been “second” in one respect, but in every other respect in the Browns portion of his NFL career, he was first-rate.

The Oklahoma running back, taken by the Browns in the second round of the NFL Draft on Jan. 30, 1973, became one of the best runners, receivers and returners in club history. He also was one of the most exciting, with his speed and ability to stop on a dime and change direction.

Pruitt, who played with the team from 1973-81 before being traded to the Los Angeles Raiders, is the fourth-leading career rusher with 5,496 yards. His 4.7 yards-per-carry average is also fourth, and his 25 rushing touchdowns rank him seventh.

His 323 receptions are third-best on the Browns. His 42-yard catch-and-run against the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1973, on which he deftly eluded defender after defender en route to setting up the winning touchdown (which he scored), is one of the most electrifying plays in team history.

Pruitt is first with a punt return average of 11.8 yards.

And he’s third in combined yards – rushing, receiving, punt returns and kickoff returns – with 10,700.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Also in 1973, the Browns drafted both Arizona State wide receiver Steve Holden and USC guard Pete Adams.

Holden caught 62 passes for four touchdowns in four years (1973-76) with Cleveland.

Adams showed a lot of promise, but injuries cut his career short. He played just two seasons, 1974 and ’76.

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Also on this date, Jan, 30, in draft history:

*In 1968, the Browns used their second-round pick to take LSU linebacker John Garlington, who played 10 years (1968-77) for the team and was either a full- or part-time starter on the left and right sides for all but the final two seasons. He had nine interceptions.

Taken in the third round that year was Southwest Texas State running back Reece Morrison, who was a reserve on offense and a returner for 4½ seasons, the highlight being in 1971 when he averaged 29.7 yards per kickoff return.

*In 1974, on the final day of the draft, the Browns found a valuable – and versatile – offensive lineman in the seventh round in Gerry Sullivan of Illinois. He played center, guard and tackle, mostly as a reserve, and was a long snapper for eight years (1974-81).

In addition on this date:

*In 1956, Keith Wright was born in Mercedes, Texas. He played at Memphis and then was drafted by the Browns in the fifth round in 1978, spending three seasons (1978-80) as a reserve wide receiver and returner before a knee injury ended his career. He averaged 26.3 yards on kickoff returns in 1978 and then 26.8 the next year.

*In 2011, Browns center Alex Mack had a rare treat for a lineman, taking a lateral on a passing play and running 40 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter for the AFC’s final points in its 55-41 loss to the NFC in the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. Officially, Mack, in his first Pro Bowl, got credit for having caught a 67-yard touchdown from Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel.


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 29

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 31, 2012 – 2:04 am

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Cleveland Clinic presents This Day in Browns History.  If you call 1.800.274.2009, Cleveland Clinic will schedule an appointment for either the same day or the next day, including Saturdays.  Call to learn more.

Right to the very end, the Browns helped themselves as the two-day NFL Draft came to a close on Jan. 29, 1975.

They got three notable players, including one in the 17th – and final – round. In addition, one of those players became a mainstay of the defense for nearly a decade.

Running back Larry Poole, from Akron (Ohio) Garfield High and Kent State, was the first of those choices, being taken in the ninth round.  Mostly a reserve, he rushed for 588 yards (averaging 4.4 yards a carry) and two touchdowns and caught 32 passes for three scores in a three-year (1975-77) career.

Penn State linebacker Dave Graf was that 17th-round choice, playing five years (1975-79) as a back-up on defense and a contributor on special teams.

But the real plum was Dick “Bam Bam” Ambrose, a middle/inside linebacker from Virginia taken in the 12th round. He started as a rookie and remained in that role for nine years, through 1983, becoming one of the leaders of the defense.

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Also on this date, Jan. 29, in 1941, Bill Nelsen was born in Los Angeles. A 10th-round pick by Pittsburgh in the 1963 NFL Draft out of USC, the quarterback played for the Steelers for five years before being traded in 1968 to Cleveland, where his career took off.

Inserted as the starter early in that first season when the offense was struggling, he got the attack – and the team overall – turned around, throwing for 19 touchdowns with 10 interceptions as the Browns made it to the NFL Championship Game. The Browns returned to the title contest the next year, too, as he had 23 touchdown passes with 19 interceptions.

Playing on knees that were just about shot, he also led the Browns to the AFC Central title in 1971, his next-to-last year with the team.


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