This Day in Browns History: Jan. 21

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 21, 2012 – 8:46 pm

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.

The Browns didn’t need a lot of help as they prepared to enter the NFL.

After all, in their first four years of existence from 1946-49, they had captured all four championships in the All-America Football Conference, even posting a perfect 15-0 season in 1948.

And in each of their first six seasons in the NFL (1950-55), they would also play in the league title game and claim three more championships.

Nonetheless, in the 1950 NFL Draft, held on Jan. 21, 1950, they were still able to add some valuable players, including with their first two picks of running back/returner Ken Carpenter and right tackle John Sandusky.

Carpenter, an Oregon product taken in the first round, played for the Browns for four years (1950-53) and rushed 242 times for 1,186 yards and 11 touchdowns, averaging 5.0 yards a carry.

He also caught 42 passes for 473 yards and five scores, averaged 10.9 yards on 34 punt returns and scored once, and averaged 21.8 yards on 41 kickoff returns.

He was one of three productive running backs with that last name who played with the Browns during that general era, joining brothers Lew (1957-58) and Preston (1957-59) Carpenter.

Sandusky, a second-rounder from Villanova, played for Cleveland for six seasons (1950-55) and was the starter from 1952-54.

His son, Gerry Sandusky, is part of the radio announcing crew for the Browns’ rivals in the AFC North, the Baltimore Ravens.

Two-way end/kicker Jim Martin was taken later in the second round out of Notre Dame. He played only that 1950 season in Cleveland but spent the next 11 years with the Detroit Lions and then finished up in 1963 and ’64 with the Baltimore Colts and Washington Redskins.

Running back Don “Dopey” Phelps, from Kentucky, was taken in the fifth round and played in a limited role for the Browns for two years (1950-51), rushing for three TDs.

Ken Gorgal, a safety from Purdue, was the sixth-round choice and intercepted 11 passes, returning one for a score, in his three seasons in Cleveland (1950, 1953-54). His six interceptions in 1950 were third-best on the team.

Running back Emerson Cole, from Swanton (Ohio) High School and the University of Toledo, was tabbed in the 12th round. One of the first African American players in team history, he played the 1950 and ’51 seasons and part of 1952 with the Browns, rushing for 357 yards and a TD.

Another running back, Dom Moselle from Superior State (Wis.), was a 23rd-round pick and played just that 1950 season in Cleveland.


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 20

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 21, 2012 – 8:45 pm

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.

A team doesn’t have to use a top draft pick to find a top-notch player.

But it helps.

The Browns found that out in the late 1950s.

John Wooten, a guard from Colorado, was selected by the Browns with the first of their two picks in the fifth round as the 1959 NFL Draft concluded on Jan. 20, 1959.

Wooten developed into one of the best guards in the game during his nine-year career (1959-67), blocking for three Pro Football Hall of Fame running backs in Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly and making the Pro Bowl twice. He was a key member of the 1964 team that won the NFL championship, and also the ’65 club that returned to the league title game.

The Browns’ other fifth-round pick in 1959 was a cornerback from London, Ohio and Ohio State named Dick LeBeau. He didn’t end up playing for the Browns, but he did for the Detroit Lions, so well, in fact, that he is enshrined in the Hall of Fame.

Also on this date, Jan. 20, in 1936, Milt Plum was born in Westville, N.J. A quarterback from Michigan State, he was part of the Browns’ great 1957 draft.

Plum, one of the best passers in the game from 1959-61, was taken in the second round after the club had used its first-round pick on Jim Brown. Browns HOF guard Gene Hickerson was chosen in the seventh round.

A fifth-round choice was defensive tackle Henry Jordan, who played two years for the Browns before going on to have a Hall of Fame career with the Green Bay Packers.


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Cleveland Browns Daily heading to Senior Bowl

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 20, 2012 – 11:56 pm

By: Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

We’re taking the show on the road!

From Monday through Friday, Cleveland Browns Daily will be broadcasting from Mobile, Ala., site of the annual Senior Bowl college all-star football game.

We’ll be broadcasting, 6-7 p.m. ET, live from the headquarters hotel of the Senior Bowl participants. We’ll have exclusive interviews with members of the Browns’ player-personnel staff, as well as national draft analysts and Senior Bowl players.

In addition, former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar will be on hand and make his regular appearances on the show.

The thrust of our Senior Bowl coverage will focus on what we observe during the daily practice sessions, which is the primary means by which the Browns’ contingent and representatives of the NFL’s 31 other teams form opinions on the nation’s top seniors in the game. The talent evaluators are looking to see how the players function in drills conducted by the NFL coaching staffs guiding each all-star squad (the Minnesota Vikings’ coaches will lead the North, while the Washington Redskins’ coaches will lead the South) because it will provide a strong indication of how well their skills will translate to the next level.

“With corners, it’s really good because you’ll see them in press coverage,” Browns general manager Tom Heckert told me on Friday’s edition of Cleveland Browns Daily. “Some of these guys have never played press coverage at all. You can watch all the tape they played in college, and you don’t get to see them play press. Well, they’ll do one-on-ones (at the Senior Bowl) versus the receivers, so you can see the receivers and DBs go against each other, so that’s a big thing.”

The same goes for one-on-one pass-rush drills. As Heckert points out, an outside linebacker from a college team that used a 3-4 defense might very well be moved to defense end in the Senior Bowl.

Another benefit from assessing the Senior Bowl is seeing the players face elite competition in day in practice and in the game on Saturday, Jan. 28.

“These are close to the best guys out there, so they’re going against all the (top) players,” Heckert said. “Where you watch a major college where a few games they’re not playing against great opponents, so at least we’ll see them against good competition. It’s a good thing for us to watch.”

The quality of talent doesn’t necessarily represent the cream of the 2012 college crop. With no underclassmen participating and some seniors choosing not to participate, the talent pool is slightly watered down.

“It’s really more of the late-first-round … type of guys that are there,” Heckert said. “It’s just another tool that we use to figure out where the players should go (in the draft).”

>>Be sure to tune in Monday through Friday, 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. ET, for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on ESPN 850 WKNR or catch the live stream right here on ClevelandBrowns.com.

>>Have a question for “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”? Ask me at Twitter.com/viccarucci


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 19

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 19, 2012 – 4:17 pm

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.

A good number of Browns’ picks in the 1951 NFL Draft made their marks in the league — but not all of them as players, and not all of them with Cleveland.

Kenny Konz, Art Donovan, Walt Michaels, Don Shula and Carl Taseff were selected by the Browns that year.

Konz, a first-round choice from Louisiana State, was a safety/punt returner for the team for seven seasons (1953-59) and is a Cleveland Browns Legend. He is fourth on the club with 30 career interceptions and is second with four interceptions returned for touchdowns.

He either led the team or shared the lead in interceptions in five different seasons, getting a career-high seven in 1956.

That was also the year that Konz topped the NFL in punt returns with an average of 14.4 yards.

For his career, Konz is eighth on the Browns in return average at 8.2 yards, and ninth with 556 return yards.

Donovan, a defensive tackle from Boston College tabbed with the last of three fourth-round picks, never played with the Browns but went on to have a Pro Football Hall of Fame career with the Baltimore Colts.

The latter of two seventh-rounders, Michaels, from Washington & Lee, played his first season with the Green Bay Packers, then returned to Cleveland in 1952 and became one of the best linebackers in the NFL over the next decade. He went to the Pro Bowl four times, tied for the most by a linebacker in Browns history, and is a Cleveland Browns Legend.

Michaels finished his 12-year career in 1963 with the New York Jets, who he would later coach.

Shula, a defensive back who played at Painesville (Ohio) Harvey High School and Cleveland’s John Carroll University, was the latter of the club’s two ninth-round choices. He had four interceptions in 1951 in the first of his two seasons with the Browns, then went to the Baltimore Colts for four years and the Washington Redskins for one and had 17 more interceptions for a career total of 21.

But it is Shula’s long tenure with the Colts and Miami Dolphins, setting an NFL record for career victories, that earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame.

Also a defensive back, Taseff played at Cleveland East High School and then was a teammate of Shula’s at John Carroll. A 22nd-round selection in the 30-round draft, he played just that 1951 season with the Browns before spending three years with the Baltimore Colts and one with the Buffalo Bills.

Taseff, however, carved out a much bigger niche as a longtime assistant coach under Shula.

*

Also on this date, Jan. 19, in 1969, Hall-of-Fame wide receiver Paul Warfield made the second of his three Pro Bowl appearances as a member of the Browns and scored the East’s only touchdown on a pass reception in its 10-7 loss to the West at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 18

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 18, 2012 – 9:55 pm

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.

It was one of the saddest offseasons in Browns history, if not in the history of the entire NFL.

In a span of only six months, three Browns players lost their lives.

On Jan. 18, 1963, Tom Bloom, a running back from Purdue who was the last of the team’s two sixth-round picks in that year’s NFL Draft, was killed in a car accident in the western portion of Ohio.

Four months later, on May 18, running back Ernie Davis died of leukemia. The first African-American to win the Heisman Trophy while at Syracuse in 1961, he was the No. 1 overall draft choice in 1962 by the Washington Redskins and then acquired by the Browns in a blockbuster trade involving Pro Football Hall of Fame running back/wide receiver Bobby Mitchell.

And just 17 days after that, on June 4, safety Don Fleming was electrocuted in a construction accident in Florida. A native of tiny Shadyside, Ohio, he had been with the Browns since 1960 and was a rising young player in the league.

Bloom is the one about whom even longtime Browns fans know the least. Born July 19, 1941, the resident of Weirton, W. Va., was just 21 when he and two of his Purdue teammates were involved in an accident on Interstate 71 near Vandalia, Ohio, about 15 miles north of Dayton, late on Jan. 18. The Ohio Highway Patrol blamed excessive speed for the accident, which, while killing Bloom, only slightly injured the two other players.

A three-year (1960-62) letterman at Purdue, Bloom was selected the Boilermakers’ most valuable player as a senior after logging more minutes of playing time than anyone else on the team. The Browns planned on trying him at defensive back, where Bernie Parrish (left cornerback), Jim Shofner (right cornerback), Ross Fichtner (left safety) and Bobby Franklin and Fleming (right safety) had been the starters in 1962.

Bloom never even made it to Cleveland to meet his new team, and Davis never played a down with the Browns.

Bloom’s death came just two days after Blanton Collier had been named coach of the Browns. He replaced Hall of Famer Paul Brown, the man for whom the Browns are named, who was fired Jan. 9.

*

But there have been other events in Browns history on Jan. 18 that have been positive, such as:

*In 1956, the conclusion of the 1956 NFL Draft was held, with the Browns getting three big-time players – Colorado wide receiver Frank Clarke in the fifth round, Stanford defensive tackle Paul Wiggin (sixth round) and Grambling defensive end Willie Davis (15th round).

Clarke played sparingly over three seasons with the Browns, but went on to the expansion Dallas Cowboys in 1960 and played eight stellar years.

A Cleveland Browns Legend, Wiggin starred at defensive end for the club for 11 years and made the Pro Bowl twice. He was part of the 1964 NFL championship team.

Davis spent two years with the Browns, sharing both end spots in 1958 with Wiggin and Bill Quinlan, and then sharing offensive left tackle with Lou Groza in ’59. He went to the Green Bay Packers in 1960 and was a standout at end for a decade, being elected to the HOF in 1981.

*In 1970, Bill Nelsen, who had quarterbacked the Browns to the NFL Championship Game in both 1968 and ’69, went to his first Pro Bowl and starred. He completed 12-of-21 passes for a touchdown in the East’s 16-13 loss to the West at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

*In 1943, Dale Lindsey was born in Bedford, Ind. A seventh-round choice of the Browns in the 1965 NFL Draft out of Western Kentucky, he played both middle and outside linebacker for eight seasons before finishing his career with the New Orleans Saints in 1973.

Only regular-season performances contribute to players’ official NFL statistics, and in that regard, Lindsey had eight interceptions in his Cleveland career. But none of those was his most important interception.

That came in the 1968 Eastern Conference Championship Game at Cleveland, when, in the early moments of the second half, he picked off a pass by Dallas’ Don Meredith and returned it 27 yards for a touchdown, breaking a 10-10 tie and helping catapult the Browns to a 31-20 win that ended a four-game losing streak to the Cowboys dating back to 1966.


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 17

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 17, 2012 – 5:14 pm

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.

The Browns had suffered a heartbreaking, 23-20 overtime loss to the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game a year earlier almost to the day. So when the teams squared off in a rematch with the 1987 conference title at stake, coach Marty Schottenheimer’s club was determined to get the job done.

The Browns played the Broncos right down to the wire again on Jan. 17, 1988 at Mile High Stadium. However, they would lose once more, 38-33.

The Browns fell behind, 21-3, at halftime, only to put on a miraculous comeback and tie the score 31-31 in the fourth quarter.

But the Broncos went back on top, 38-31, on quarterback John Elway’s third touchdown pass of the day. Then defensive back Jeremiah Castille recovered a fumble by Browns running back Earnest Byner at the Denver 3 with 1:05 remaining to preserve the victory.

The Broncos led, 14-0, after one quarter on Elway’s eight-yard pass to wide receiver Ricky Nattiel and Steve Sewell’s one-yard run.

Matt Bahr got the Browns on the board with Matt Bahr’s 24-yard field goal, then Gene Lang scored on a one-yard run to put the halftime lead at 18 points, 21-3.

The Browns came storming back with a trio of third-quarter touchdowns, two on Bernie Kosar passes of 18 yards to wide receiver Reggie Langhorne and 32 yards to running back Earnest Byner, and Byner’s four-yard run.

Elway’s 80-yard pass to wideout Mark Jackson and a 38-yard field goal by Rich Karlis accounted for Denver’s points in the quarter.

That deadlocked the game at 31-31 and set the stage for a dramatic fourth quarter.

With just 4:01 left, Elway hit running back Sammy Winder for a 20-yard touchdown.

The Browns defense forced the Broncos to go three plays and out following Byner’s fumble, but instead of kicking the ball away and likely giving Cleveland good field position, Denver elected to have punter Mike Horan run out of the back of the end zone for an intentional safety to make it 38-33.

With little time to work with following the free kick, the Browns were unable to score and suffered another bitter defeat to the Broncos on the doorstep of the Super Bowl.

After a slow start, the Browns offense in the second half played probably better than it had all year, moving the ball up and down the field and scoring at will.

Kosar and Byner performed especially well.

Kosar completed 26 of 41 passes for 356 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception for a quarterback rating of 105.3.

Byner led the Browns in rushing with 67 yards and a TD in 15 carries, and had a game-high seven receptions for 120 yards and a score.

Overall, the Browns rolled up 464 total yards to 412 for Denver.

But unfortunately for Kosar, Byner and the rest of their teammates, it wasn’t quite enough for a second straight season.

*

This date in history, though, has otherwise been a positive one for the Browns. It was on Jan. 17 that:

*Ray Renfro was among the Browns’ picks in the 1952 NFL Draft.

One of two players taken by the club in the fourth round, the North Texas State halfback was converted to wide receiver by the Browns and became one of their most prolific pass catchers ever. In a 12-year career that lasted from 1952-63, he caught 281 passes, the ninth-highest total in club history, is second with 5,508 receiving yards, third with 50 touchdown receptions and first with 19.6 average yards per catch.

Also selected by the Browns in that draft were Southern Methodist guard Herschel Forester, who played for the team for four years (1954-57) and was part of NFL championship squads in his first two seasons, Missouri safety Junior Wren (1956-59), who had 11 career interceptions with the team, Tennessee defensive back/kicker Bert Rechichar (1952), who held the NFL record for longest field goal (56 yards) from 1953-70, Loyola of California quarterback Don Klosterman, who went on to become a very successful general manager with the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Colts, and Boston University quarterback Harry Agganis, whose son, Mike, owns the Akron (Ohio) Aeros, the Class AA affiliate of baseball’s Cleveland Indians.

*Dick Ambrose was born in 1953 in New Rochelle, N.Y.

A 12th-round pick of the Browns in the 1975 NFL Draft out of Virginia, the linebacker, nicknamed “Bam Bam,” not only made the team that season but was a starter throughout a nine-year career that ended with his retirement following the 1983 season. He had five career interceptions, including two in 1978.

*Carlton Massey was born in 1930 in Rockwall, Texas.

An eighth-round choice of the Browns in the 1953 NFL Draft out of Texas, the defensive end played for the team for three seasons. He was part of NFL title clubs in his first two years, 1954 and ’55, when he was a full-time starter. He shared the position with Bob Gain in 1956.


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 16

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 16, 2012 – 5:07 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

The Browns hired a new coach – only the second in their history – on Jan. 16, 1963, but he really wasn’t new at all.

Blanton Collier, who had served nine years as an assistant for the Browns, including in 1962, replaced Paul Brown, the only coach the team had had since its inception in 1946. Brown had been dismissed exactly a week earlier on Jan. 9.

Browns owner Art Modell kept to his promise at the time that he would find a replacement within 10 days. He gave the 56-year-old Collier a three-year contract.

Collier had served on Brown’s first eight Cleveland staffs from 1946-53, then left to become coach at the University of Kentucky. He was let go by the school after the 1961 season and was re-hired by Brown in Cleveland in 1962.

Collier — a friendly, gentle, soft-spoken man who had a brilliant football mind, especially offensively — ended up coaching the Browns for eight years before a hearing problem caused his premature retirement following the 1970 season. Had he been able to serve as a head coach longer, then he might be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with Brown.

Collier had a career regular-season record of 76-34-2 (.688) and an overall mark of 79-38-2 (.672), guiding the Browns to the postseason five times and to the NFL championship in 1964 with a masterfully-designed and executed 27-0 upset victory over the Baltimore Colts.

The Browns returned to the league title contest in 1965 with their best record of the Collier era, 11-3, but lost to the Green Bay Packers. They also played for the NFL crown in both 1968 and ’69, falling to the Baltimore Colts and Minnesota Vikings, respectively.

In addition, the 1967 Browns won the title in the Century Division in its first year of existence and advanced to the Eastern Conference Championship Game before being defeated by the Dallas Cowboys.

One of Collier’s best records was in that first year of 1963, when the Browns won their first six games and finished 10-4, a game behind the New York Giants in the Eastern Conference.

The Browns never had a losing record under Collier, their worst mark coming in his final season of 1970 when they finished 7-7 in their first year in the AFC (the re-configured AFL) after moving from the old NFL (NFC).

It was also in that 1970 season that Collier coached the Browns to a 31-21 win over the New York Jets in the first Monday Night Football game.

Included that year as well were two games against head coach Paul Brown’s Cincinnati Bengals, which the Browns split.

Collier returned to the team a third time as Forrest Gregg took over as coach, spending 1975 and ’76 tutoring quarterbacks such as Mike Phipps, the No. 3 overall pick in the 1970 NFL Draft, and Brian Sipe, a then little-known 13th-round draft pick in 1972 who had spent 1973 and ’74 on the team’s taxi squad, the forerunner of today’s practice squad.

*

This date is also significant in the career of another well-known and longtime member of the Browns, Ed Ulinski, who was with the team in some capacity for 34 of its first 38 seasons of existence.

It was on Jan. 16, 1954 that Ulinski re-joined the team as its tackles coach, replacing Weeb Ewbank, who left to become head coach of the Baltimore Colts.

Ulinski, who had been the starting left guard on all four Browns teams in the All-America Football Conference from 1946-49, spent from 1950-53 in college coaching, first at Santa Clara on the staff of former Browns assistant Dick Gallagher and then at Purdue.

Gallagher, by the way, went on to be named the director of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio in 1967.

Ulinski continued as an assistant coach and then an administrative assistant before taking over as the club’s film coordinator in 1971. He remained in that last role until his retirement 13 years later in 1984.

No man in Browns history has had that diversified of a career with the team, and only a few have had longer careers.

Ulinski and Collier were on the Browns together for 15 seasons, 1946-49, 1962-70 and 1975-76.


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 15

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 15, 2012 – 10:33 pm

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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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 13

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 13, 2012 – 5:33 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

It seems fitting that Jan. 13 is a significant date in the careers of both Jim Brown and Len Dawson.

After all, the two Pro Football Hall of Famers will forever be connected in Browns history.

It was on Jan. 13, 1960, that the Browns acquired Dawson in a trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for wide receiver/running back Preston Carpenter and safety Junior Wren.

And it was on Jan. 13, 1963, that Brown was named the Outstanding Back in the Pro Bowl after rushing for 141 yards and two touchdowns in the East’s 30-20 win over the West at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

After suffering through their first losing season in 1956 with a 5-7 record, the Browns went into the 1957 NFL Draft with the sixth overall pick. Pro Football Hall of Fame coach and general manager Paul Brown was intent on getting a quarterback to replace the gaping hole that still existed after Hall of Famer Otto Graham retired at the end of the 1955 season. As such, he had his sights set on Dawson, who had played about an hour and a half southeast of Cleveland at Alliance (Ohio) High School and then starred at Purdue.

But the rival Steelers, selecting one spot ahead of the Browns at No. 5, beat Cleveland to the punch by taking Dawson.

Dismayed, Paul Brown went to plan B and settled for a running back from Syracuse named Jim Brown.

Jim Brown was an instant star and developed into not just the best running back in pro football history, but likely also the top player at any position the sport has ever seen. He put up dizzying numbers.

Meanwhile, Dawson fizzled out with the Steelers, attempting just 17 passes – with but six completions – in three seasons (1957-59). They gave up on him and made him available to the Browns in that trade, and Paul Brown was only too happy to take him.

The coach had to wait a while, but he finally got the quarterback he wanted three years earlier, plus he already had Jim Brown. So Paul Brown was feeling pretty good about his offense.

But over the next two seasons, 1960 and ’61, Milt Plum really blossomed at quarterback, and Dawson was once again on the outside looking in, playing in but nine games in those years.

Dawson ended up going to the Dallas Texans of the AFL in 1962 and, as Paul Brown always suspected he would, came into his own, throwing for a league-high 29 TD passes that season. As the team moved to Kansas City the following year and became the Chiefs, Dawson became even better, leading the club to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV.

Ironically, that stunning, 23-7 upset win, in which Dawson was the named the game’s Most Valuable Player, was played almost 10 years to the day after his trade to the Browns, on Jan. 11, 1970.

*

Also on Jan. 13 over the years, three notable Browns players were born.

Running back Ed Modzelewski, who was born in 1929 in West Natrona, Pa., was taken by the Steelers in the first round of the 1952 NFL Draft and played for them for just that one season. He came to the Browns in 1955 and was the second-leading rusher that year with 619 yards as they won the league championship. He also finished second in rushing in 1956.

Modzelewski gained 1,097 yards overall during his five years with the Browns, retiring after the 1959 season. Nicknamed “Big Mo,” he is the older brother of “Little Mo,” Dick Modzelewski, who was a starting defensive tackle for the Browns for three years, including on their 1964 NFL championship team.

Born Jan. 13, 1964, in Washington, D.C., defensive tackle Chris Pike wasn’t a big contributor in his two years (1989-90) with the Browns. However, he still made a big impact, per se, with the Browns by being the largest player they had ever had to that point at 6-foot-8 and 290 pounds.

Defensive lineman Dan Footman, born in 1969 in Tampa, Fla., was a second-round draft choice of the Browns in 1993 out of Florida State and played a lot for them for three years before the franchise moved to Baltimore following the 1995 season.


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This Day in Browns History: Jan. 12

Posted by Matt Florjancic on January 12, 2012 – 6:51 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

With the longstanding Giants and the Titans, now the Jets, who came into being in the AFL’s inaugural year of 1960, New York has had two pro football teams for more than 50 years.

But nearly a decade and a half before that, just after World War II had ended, Cleveland was almost a two-football town as well.

The Rams were the new NFL champions, having won their first crown on Dec. 16, 1945 as quarterback Bob Waterfield led past over the Washington Redskins, 15-14, at Cleveland Stadium.

It was quite a turnaround for the Rams, who were born in 1937, disbanded for the 1943 season because of the war and had never had as much as a winning record before going 9-1 to capture the Western Division title in 1945 and then topping the Redskins.

While all this was going on, the new Browns, owned by Arthur “Mickey” McBride and with Paul Brown as the coach and general manager, were getting organized to begin play in the fall of 1946 in the first season of the All-America Football Conference.

The Browns were all set to go head-to-head with the Rams to battle for the affection of Cleveland football fans.

But the Rams weren’t interested.

The Rams had never drawn well in Cleveland, and owner Dan Reeves was well aware of the immense popularity of Brown, who had built Massillon (Ohio) High School into a national prep powerhouse from 1932-40 and then took Ohio State to its first national championship in 1942. He knew Brown would draw plenty of fans and interest, and as it turned out, he was exactly right

At the same time, though, Reeves also realized the West Coast was wide open for pro football. No NFL team – or any team in any pro football league, for that matter – had been much west of the Mississippi River. Thus, he thought the Pacific coast provided a golden opportunity for his franchise to really blossom.

And again, as it turned out, he was right about that, too.

The AAFC was also looking at the West Coast and was planning on putting teams into both Los Angeles (the Dons) and San Francisco (49ers). Reeves didn’t think much of the threat of either of those clubs in a start-up league, so, on Jan. 12, 1946, he boldly announced that he was moving the Rams to Los Angeles to begin play that fall.

Goodness, there hadn’t even been enough time for the dust to settle onto their NFL championship trophy and the Rams were already packing up and heading out of town, avoiding a direct confrontation with the Browns.

The Browns had refrained from trying to lure any Rams players to that point, but when the Rams left Ohio, the Browns were only too happy to take any players who didn’t want to uproot themselves and their families and go to Los Angeles.

In their new home, the Rams didn’t slip back into the doldrums they had been in for most of their time in Cleveland. Still, they didn’t win another NFL crown, either, their best season coming in 1949 when they lost, 14-0, to the Philadelphia Eagles in the league title game.

Meanwhile, the Browns dominated the AAFC, winning all four championships in the league’s existence. When a truce between the AAFC and NFL was reached as the 1949 season was ending, the AAFC disbanded and the Browns, 49ers and Baltimore Colts were absorbed into the NFL.

The Browns’ outstanding play continued in their first season in the NFL in 1950 as they advanced to the league title game, and as luck would have it, their opponents were none other than the Rams. The teams played on Christmas Eve at Cleveland with the Browns prevailing, 30-28, on Lou Groza’s 16-yard field goal with 28 seconds left.

The clubs met again in the title contest the following year at L.A., with the Rams winning the rematch, 24-17, on a 73-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. Waterfield, the hero of the 1945 title win, added the extra point.

The championship game rubber match was held in the 1955 at Los Angeles, and the Browns rolled to a 38-14 win.

The Browns and Rams have not met in the playoffs since – unless you count the Playoff Bowl following the 1968 season when Los Angeles won, 30-6.

Those three Browns-Rams title games were obviously big, but just how much bigger do you think they would have been had the Rams not left town, leaving the contests as all-Cleveland matchups?

We’ll never know, but it sure is interesting to think about.


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