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.
Playing in the NFL is the dream of nearly ever college football player.
But sometimes those dreams change.
That was the case with Oklahoma center/linebacker Kurt Burris, the Browns’ first-round pick in the 1955 NFL Draft.
It was on Feb. 4, 1956 that Burris, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1954, announced he would not be signing with the Browns because he was about to be inducted into the Navy.
Ironically, Browns coach Paul Brown drafted Burris to replace Tom Catlin, Cleveland’s starting left linebacker in 1954, who was already in the Navy. Cleveland Benedictine High School and University of Dayton product Chuck Noll had played that spot in 1955 as the Browns won their second straight NFL championship and third in six years.
As it turned out, while Noll stayed at left linebacker for the Browns through 1957, then moved to offense to become Brown’s messenger guard, Burris ended up playing in the Canadian Football League for five years (1955-58 and ’60) with first the Edmonton Eskimos and then the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders. He won Grey Cup titles in 1955 and ’56 while with the Eskimos.
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