This Day in Browns History: Feb. 10

Posted by Matt Florjancic on February 10, 2012 – 9:16 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.

Blanton Collier decided to go home on Feb. 10, 1954.

Collier, a Kentucky native and the most trusted and valued member of Paul Brown’s coaching staff since the Browns’ inaugural season of 1946, announced that he was leaving to take the head coaching job at the University of Kentucky. He was replacing Paul “Bear” Bryant, who had gotten the job at Alabama.

In their eight seasons together, Brown and Collier coached the Browns to eight league championship games and five titles – four in as many tries in the All-America Football Conference from 1946-49, and then the 1950 NFL crown.

As good as Collier was, Brown and his team moved on without him, capturing the NFL championship in both 1954 and ’55.

Collier was dismissed at Kentucky following the 1961 season and returned to Brown’s staff in Cleveland as an assistant the next year.

After the 1962 season, Brown was dismissed and Collier was named coach. He stayed on the job for eight years, guiding the Browns to the 1964 NFL title, before having to retire because of an acute hearing problem following the 1970 season.

Also on this date, Feb. 10, in Browns history:

*In 1963, Bennie Thompson was born in New Orleans. After playing at Grambling, the defensive back/special teamer spent his first three NFL seasons (1989-91) with his hometown Saints, then went to the Kansas City Chiefs for two years before landing in Cleveland in 1994. He was a great special teams player for the Browns for two seasons before the franchise relocated to Baltimore.


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This Day in Browns History: Feb. 9

Posted by Matt Florjancic on February 10, 2012 – 9:15 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 took a quantum leap into the future on Feb. 9, 1982.

That’s when they hired their first strength and conditioning coach, Dave “Red Man” Redding.

Redding, 29, starred as a defensive end for Nebraska and had spent three years as the strength and conditioning coach at Missouri immediately before coming to Cleveland.

Sam Rutigliano was coaching the Browns at the time, but even after he was dismissed midway through the 1984 season, Redding was retained by his successor, Marty Schottenheimer.

Redding was with the Browns for a total of seven years, leaving when Schottenheimer was dismissed at the end of the 1988 season. He followed Schottenheimer around for almost the next two decades to the Kansas City Chiefs, Washington Redskins and San Diego Chargers.

He then went – without Schottenheimer – to the Green Bay Packers in 2009 and was part of their Super Bowl-winning team following the 2010 season, after which he retired, ending a 24-year career in the NFL.

Redding is now considered to be one of the pioneers in pro football in terms of strength and conditioning. When he was hired in Cleveland, few organizations in the league had even heard of such a coaching position.

He received rave reviews from Browns players when he was with the team. They realized they were getting stronger and in better physical condition, something that was needed at the time to compete with the tough-minded, hard-hitting clubs in the AFC Central such as the Pittsburgh Steelers and Houston Oilers.

Also on this date, Feb. 9, in Browns history:

*In 1965, David Brandon was born in Memphis, Tenn. A product of Memphis, he was taken by the Buffalo Bills in the third round of the 1987 NFL Draft but never played for them.

Instead, he played three years with the Chargers before coming to Cleveland in 1991. He spent 2½ years with the Browns, sharing the left outside linebacker spot that first season before taking over as the full-time starter in 1992.

He had two interceptions each in 1991 and ’92, returning one 92 yards for a touchdown in the latter season.

*In 1967, Stevon Moore was born in Wiggins, Miss. The defensive back was drafted by the New York Jets in the seventh round in 1989 but didn’t begin his NFL career until the following year with the Miami Dolphins.

He came to the Browns in 1992 and was the starter at strong safety from 1993-95, after which the franchise moved to Baltimore. He had no interceptions in the league until 1995, when he had five.


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This Day in Browns History: Feb. 8

Posted by Matt Florjancic on February 10, 2012 – 9:14 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 already had a bruising fullback in 1960.

His name was Jim Brown, arguably the greatest player in football history.

They also had a halfback who, with his quick feet and ability to stop on a dime and change directions, could make defenders grab at air and look silly.

His name was Bobby Mitchell, also a Pro Football Hall of Famer.

Because of that, even though running back/fullback Prentice Gautt was tabbed by the Browns in the second round of the 1960 NFL Draft out of Oklahoma, he played just one year with the team. Gautt, born Feb. 8, 1938 in Oklahoma City, Okla., rushed but 28 times for 159 yards, averaging 5.7 yards per carry, and caught only one pass.

Gautt went to the Eastern Conference rival Cardinals in 1961, their second year in St. Louis after moving from Chicago, and began a seven-year stint with them. He ran for 523 yards that first season and had 2,307 yards overall with the club through 1967. He had 10 rushing touchdowns and added seven more scores on 78 pass receptions.


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This Day in Browns History: Feb. 7

Posted by Matt Florjancic on February 10, 2012 – 9:13 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.

Wide receiver Frank Clarke played for the Browns – and then against them – in an 11-year NFL career that lasted from 1957-67.

Born Feb. 7, 1934 in Beloit, Wis., Clarke was a fifth-round choice of the Browns in the 1956 NFL Draft out of Colorado. He saw limited action during his time with the team from 1957-59, having just 10 catches, because there was simply no room for him on the talented Browns roster.

But he averaged a robust 21.2 yards per reception during his short Cleveland stay, an ability that would be nurtured and highlighted once he got to the expansion Dallas Cowboys in 1960 and got a chance to play.

Clarke led the NFL in average yards per catch two straight years, 1961 (22.4) and ’62 (22.2). He also topped the league in touchdown catches with 14 in 1962, the same year that he had 1,043 receiving yards, exceeding 1,000 for the only time in his career.

He had 291 career receptions in the NFL, including 51 for TDs, and averaged 18.6 yards a catch.

By Clarke’s next-to-last season of 1966, when they ended Cleveland’s two-year hold on the Eastern Conference championship, the Cowboys were emerging as the Browns’ biggest rivals.

In the most significant win in Cowboys history to that date, a 26-14 decision over the Browns on Thanksgiving Day 1966 that all but enabled them to secure their first conference title, Clarke tied for second on the team with four receptions. It was the Cowboys’ first triumph over the Browns in four years.

Also on this date in 1980, Mike St. Clair was one of two defensive ends the Browns traded to the New England Patriots for a sixth-round draft choice in 1980 and a 10th-rounder in ’81.

St. Clair was a fourth-round draft pick of the Browns in 1976 out of Grambling, where he played for the legendary Eddie Robinson. He was a part-time starter for Cleveland in 1976 and ’77 and a full-timer in ’78.

He also was a product of Cleveland East Tech High School and, in addition to playing football there, was a star forward on the Scarabs’ 1972 Class AAA (big schools) state championship basketball team.


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This Day in Browns History: Feb. 6

Posted by Matt Florjancic on February 10, 2012 – 9:13 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.

When Don Cockroft came into the world, the Browns did not exist.

It would be another year and a half before they played their first game in 1946 in the All-America Football Conference.

But now it’s impossible to study Browns history without thinking about Cockroft, who was born Feb. 6, 1945 in Cheyenne, Wyoming.

Cockroft, a third-round choice of the Browns in the 1967 NFL Draft out of tiny Adams State, played for the team for 13 seasons (1968-80). He kicked for all of that time, and, until being passed by Phil Dawson in 2011, was the No. 2 career scorer in team history with 1,080 points. He is also third in field goals with 216.

Cockroft had three signature field goals in his career – a 26-yarder with just seconds remaining that edged the Pittsburgh Steelers, 26-24, at Cleveland in 1972 and served as the catalyst to the Browns earning the AFC’s lone wild-card playoff berth, while also, according to him, jump-starting his career; a 35-yarder that defeated the New England Patriots 30-27 in 1977 at Cleveland on Monday Night Football  in the first overtime game in club history; and a 22-yarder with just over a minute left that provided the deciding points in a 27-24 victory over the Bengals at Cincinnati in the 1980 regular-season finale that clinched the Central Division title and earned the team its first trip to the postseason since that 1972 season.

With his confidence renewed, Cockroft finished 1972 with an NFL-leading 81.5 success rate on his field goals (22-of-27). He also topped the league in 1974 by making 87.5 percent (14-of-16).

He finished his career 216-of-328 (65.9 percent).

In addition, Cockroft served as the team’s punter for nine years (1968-76), with a career average of 40.3 yards per attempt. His best season was in 1972, when he averaged 43.2 yards.

Doing any of this was not easy for Cockroft, simply because he had the immense pressure of trying to fill the huge shoes of Pro Football Hall of Fame kicker Lou “The Toe” Groza, who retired following the 1967 season after having been with the Browns since that inaugural year of 1946.

To put that into perspective, on the day Cockroft was born, Groza was still serving in World War II.

But as an addendum to that, Cockroft was extremely respectful of, but never intimidated by, the aura of Groza, and ended up carving out his own niche in Browns history in the great lineage of the team’s kickers.

Other former Browns born on this date, Feb. 6, include punter/quarterback Tom Tupa (1966 in Cleveland), defensive tackle James Jones (1969 in Davenport, Iowa), guard Houston Hoover (1965 in Yazoo City, Miss.) and cornerback Randy Hilliard (1967 in New Orleans).

Tupa, who played in the Cleveland suburbs at Brecksville High School and then at Ohio State, was signed by the Browns when they released quarterback Bernie Kosar midway through the 1993 season and stayed through 1995, after which the franchise moved to Baltimore.

Despite having played quarterback for the first five years of his career with the Phoenix Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts after having been a third-round draft pick of the Cardinals in 1988, Tupa never played the position in a regular-season game with Cleveland.

He did, however, serve as the team’s punter in 1994 and ’95, having one of the better per-attempt averages in team history at 43.6 in 1995.

Jones, a third-round draft pick of the Browns in 1991 out of Northern Iowa,  played with the original franchise for the last five years of its existence. He was a full-time starter for the first two years, and a part-time starter in 1993. He had 13 sacks.

Known for his athleticism, Jones was used in short-yardage situations on offense, scoring one touchdown on a pass reception and another on a run while also serving as a lead blocker.

Hoover was a starter at left guard in his only season with the Browns, 1993, after having signed as a free agent. He spent his first five NFL seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, who drafted him in the sixth round in 1988 out of Jackson State.

Hilliard was slight – even for a defensive back – at just 165 pounds, but he nonetheless played well, mostly as a reserve, for four seasons with the Browns after they took him as a sixth-round draft choice in 1990 out of Northwestern State.

Finally, on Feb. 6, 1983, Browns rookie outside linebacker Chip Banks played in his first Pro Bowl. He made four trips – all in a row — to the Pro Bowl, tied for the most by a linebacker in team history.


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