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’s such an important event in Browns history that the team might want to make it a regional holiday.
We’re talking about Feb. 17, when, in 1936, Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown — arguably the greatest player in the game’s history — was born in St. Simons Island, Ga.
Moving to Long Island, N.Y., at the age of eight, he attended high school there and went on to play at Syracuse.
Brown came to the Browns by default in the 1957 NFL Draft. Coach Paul Brown wanted to use the team’s first selection, at No. 6 overall, to take Purdue quarterback and Alliance, Ohio native Len Dawson to fill the gap left when Hall of Famer Otto Graham retired after the 1955 season.
But the Pittsburgh Steelers beat Paul Brown to the punch, taking Dawson one pick ahead of Cleveland. The coach then went to his second choice and tabbed Brown.
If only every alternate plan worked out that well.
Owning a rare combination of size, strength, power, speed and durability, the 6-foot-2, 232-pound Brown, who had a 32-inch waist, shattered every NFL rushing record in his nine-year (1957-65) career. A Pro Bowler every season, he led the league in rushing every year but one, finishing with 12,312 career yards, a 5.2 yards-per-carry average and 106 touchdowns.
Also a fine pass catcher out of the backfield — he led the club in receptions in 1962, the only year he did not rush for 1,000 yards, and finished second three other times, including in the NFL championship season of 1964 — Brown is almost on the team’s top 10 career receiving list, having 262 catches for 20 scores.
Two other former Browns of note were born on Feb. 17, guard Ted Banker (1961 in Belleville, Ill.), and wide receiver Patrick Rowe (1969 in San Diego).
Banker, from Southeast Missouri State, played his first five NFL seasons with the New York Jets before finishing his career with the Browns in 1989. He started at left guard on a Cleveland team that won the Central Division title for the fourth time in five seasons and made it to its third AFC Championship Game in four years.
A product of San Diego State, Rowe was drafted by the Browns in the second round in 1992 but did not play with them until a year later, and only sparingly. That was his only NFL season.
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