This Day in Browns History: Mar. 31

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 31, 2012 – 8:05 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Brian Duncan spent nearly all of his football career in Texas.

Born in Olney, the running back played for Graham High School and then Southern Methodist.

And Duncan finished his three-year NFL career with the Houston Oilers in 1978.

But in between, he spent two years with the Browns.

The Browns signed Duncan as an undrafted rookie in 1976 and he played with them through the following year before going to the AFC Central-rival Oilers.

He was a backup on offense for the Browns and also served as a kickoff returner, averaging 24.2 yards per attempt in 1976.

Duncan made the most of the seven passes he caught in his Cleveland career, as two of them went for touchdowns. In fact, the only reception he had in 1977 was for a score.

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.


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Thoughts on the Browns’ options at No. 4

Posted by Bernie Kosar on March 30, 2012 – 10:53 pm

By Bernie Kosar, Special Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Here are my takes on the Browns’ options with the No. 4 pick of the draft from my appearance on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford”:

I found it really interesting the last week that teams like the St. Louis Rams are directly quoted as mentioning the Browns as a possible trade partner.

Typically, that used to be taboo. You didn’t really mention the business and the deals and possible deals that might have transpired or you attempted to put together unless they really happened.

You see a lot of people talking specifically about possibly trading to the fourth spot to get guys like Justin Blackmon or Ryan Tannehill. I just find it really interesting that other teams are talking about in-house business for the Browns.

The last collective bargaining agreement, which invoked a really hard salary cap on the rookies, has made it advantageous to have these top-five, top-ten first picks. And it’s not cost-prohibitive like it was when St. Louis took Sam Bradford for $50-million dollars, as opposed to last year when Cam Newton was signed for less than half that amount as the number one overall pick.

People want these premium picks now, and they’re more aggressive at trying to come up and get a targeted player. And because the 13 picks that the Browns have in this year’s draft give us so much leeway and for our need to really try to get better at multiple positions, it really does give us a lot of flexibility as to where you want to end up. You might see teams not go as crazy as Washington did in going from No. 6 to No. 2, but being more aggressive and trying to move up to get a targeted player that fits the need in their team.

There’s no doubt you can pick up a premium second- or third-round pick and a premium second- or third-round pick next year on top of it for moving back a couple spots. So that really does add a lot of leverage to it.

I really think the Jacksonville, at No. 7, is a sleeper team. Gene Smith, the Jaguars’ general manager, has shown a high propensity to be aggressive and move up in the draft. The Jaguars absolutely need a playmaking receiver, too. So if they fall in love with Blackmon, they will do anything to get in front of St. Louis themselves for that. And teams like the Seattle Seahawks, at No. 12, have also shown they want to do things to move up for players.

There just are a lot of options, and this is where the scouting and your study and preparation are imperative. A lot of us are focused on the top-five picks, the top-10 and the top-15 picks. This is when your analysis of the depth of receiver and the depth at running back – the top-tiered receivers and running backs that could be available in the second round.

So that analysis, that due diligence is imperative.

Be sure to catch Bernie Kosar’s regular appearances with Vic Carucci on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford,” Monday through Friday, 6-7 p.m. ET, live on ESPN 850 WKNR and ClevelandBrowns.com


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This Day in Browns History: Mar. 30

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 30, 2012 – 3:35 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Bo Scott arrived in Cleveland from two directions — north and south.

Scott, who was born March 30, 1943 in Connellsville, Pa., was a third-round pick of the Browns in the 1965 NFL Draft out of Ohio State. But he didn’t play for the Browns — that time, at least — as he opted instead to go to the Canadian Football League.

He returned to Cleveland in 1969 to begin the NFL portion of his pro career, and the Browns were glad he did. He played with the club for five years, through 1974, before retiring, and from 1970-72, he teamed with Pro Football Hall of Famer Leroy Kelly to form one of the best backfields in the league.

Scott rushed for 625 yards and seven touchdowns in 1970, while also leading the club with 40 receptions, good for four scores.

With 70 points, he was second on the team in scoring, only four points behind kicker Don Cockroft.

Scott came back in 1971 and ran for 606 yards and nine scores, and finished third on the Browns with 30 catches as they won their first AFC Central championship.

Then in 1972 as the Browns gained the conference’s lone wild-card playoff berth, he rushed for 571 yards and two touchdowns, and had 23 receptions.

His 2,124 career rushing yards are just short of putting him on the team’s top 10 list, but his 18 rushing touchdowns are more than the totals of four of those players.

Also born on this date, March 30, in Browns history was defensive end Mike Seifert (1951 in Port Washington, Wis.).

The Wisconsin product was drafted by the Browns in the 13th round in 1974 – the same round in which they had taken San Diego State quarterback Brian Sipe just two years before. He played only that season with the club – it was also his only season in the NFL– as a part-time starter at right end with Canton (Ohio) McKinley High School and Ohio State product Nick Roman.

Another young Browns defensive lineman, tackle Cark Barisich, and veteran offensive lineman John Demarie were claimed by the Seattle Seahawks March 30, 1976 in the NFL Expansion Draft.

Barisich, from Princeton, had been an 11th-round draft choice of the Browns in 1973 and had been with the club for three years. He ended up playing with the Seahawks in 1976, the Miami Dolphins for the next four seasons and then the New York Giants briefly in 1981 to complete his nine-year career.

Demarie was a sixth-round draft choice of the Browns in 1967 out of Louisiana State and played nine years with the team. He spent 1976 with Seattle before retiring.

J.K. McKay, a wide receiver from USC who was taken by the Browns in the 16th round of the 1975 NFL Draft, was also claimed in the 1976 Expansion Draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His father, John McKay, was the coach of the team, and had been his coach at USC as well.

It was a nice day-after birthday present for J.K. McKay, who turned 23 on March 28.

McKay, whose younger brother, Rich, served as general manager of the Bucs for a while and is now the president of the Atlanta Falcons, played three years with Tampa Bay.

J.K. McKay had quite a college career. His USC teams secured national championships in both 1972 and ’74 by defeating Ohio State in the Rose Bowl.

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.


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This Day in Browns History: Mar. 29

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 29, 2012 – 3:35 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

For a while three decades or so ago, NFL teams playing basketball in the offseason were the rage.

Offseason strength and conditioning programs weren’t part of the NFL yet, plus the player salaries were relatively small. So players formed offseason basketball teams that toured the region and competed in games at high schools against pick-up squads.

It was a way for the Browns players to earn some money, raise funds for worthy causes and stay in shape.

But there was a major downside to these games — when Browns players would get hurt.

Such was the case March 29, 1983, when wide receiver Dave Logan broke his right ankle while playing for the Browns basketball team in a game at Nelsonville-York High School in Athens County in Southern Ohio.

It was one of a series of injuries Logan had suffered in recent years, but this was the first one that did not occur on a football field.

He played in all 16 games in 1980, but missed parts of those contests, including the regular-season finale when the Kardiac Kids won at Cincinnati to clinch the AFC Central crown. His absence in that contest — after catching a 65-yard pass early in the game — thrust his replacement, Ricky Feacher, into the spotlight, with his two third-quarter touchdown receptions being key in the down-to-the-wire, 27-24 final.

Several injuries, including a broken rib and pulled hamstring, caused Logan to miss two games in 1981.

But Logan battled through each setback, and he battled through this one, too. Fortunately for him and the Browns, he was able to play in all 16 games in 1983 in what would turn out to be the last of his eight seasons with the club. He was second on the team with 37 receptions, giving him 262 for the Cleveland portion of career.

The Colorado product played briefly with the Denver Broncos in 1984 before retiring, and is now that team’s longtime radio voice.

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.


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Browns choose to shop at home in free agency

Posted by Vic Carucci on March 29, 2012 – 1:23 am

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

PALM BEACH, Fla. – When it came to free-agent shopping, the Browns decided that it made more sense to spend on what was familiar rather than make risky investments in the unknown.

“The main focus was re-signing our own players,” general manager Tom Heckert said during an exclusive interview with “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” from the NFL meetings, which ended on Wednesday.

That isn’t exactly music to the ears of some Browns fans who wanted the team to be more aggressive in the open market.

However, as Heckert pointed out, the club chose to direct most of its money toward players who were already on the roster and performing at a high level. That included not only players, such as linebacker D’Qwell Jackson and cornerback Dimitri Patterson, who were re-signed either right before or during the current free-agent period, but also those (such as offensive tackle Joe Thomas, defensive tackle Ahtyba Rubin, and linebacker Chris Gocong) who received new deals last year.

“Trust me, I completely understand the fans are saying, ‘Why aren’t we going out and signing all of these free agents?’” Heckert said. “But when you talk about D’Qwell Jackson, Joe Thomas, Chris Gocong, Ahtyba Rubin … I mean, we’ve signed some really good players. You look around the league, and some guys are losing these kinds of players.

“So we feel very, very confident that, instead of going out and spending money on other players that we don’t know about, we spend money on our own players that we think are great. And, obviously, the players we’ve signed have performed very well for us. That’s kind of been our goal — to keep our own guys and not go out and get everybody else’s castoffs.”

The Browns did add a couple of new players who are expected to make significant contributions. One is former Cincinnati Bengal Frostee Rucker, who is expected to start at right defensive end. The other is former Philadelphia Eagle Juqua Parker, a reserve defensive lineman with whom Heckert is quite familiar from his time in the Eagles’ front office.

“(Rucker) can move inside in the nickel pass rush, which is something that we haven’t had,” Heckert said. “Rubin and (fellow tackle) Phil Taylor had to play a lot of the time, so hopefully we can get (them) some rest in there on nickel stuff. Juqua Parker, who’s a guy that I’ve known for a long time, will really come in and help us as a pass-rusher. We’re excited about that.”

Still, there are those Browns fans who are unhappy that the team didn’t find any offensive help in free agency.

According to Heckert, it was hardly a matter of intentionally ignoring that side of the ball.

“It wasn’t like we didn’t try to help ourselves on offense,” he said. “We did, and it just didn’t work out. But if we missed out on somebody we really targeted, we weren’t just going to sign somebody just to sign somebody.”

Now, Heckert and the rest of the Browns’ player-personnel staff are completely focused on next month’s draft. They received a pleasant surprise on Monday when the NFL awarded the Browns four compensatory draft picks for their free-agent losses.

“It’s phenomenal,” Heckert said. “I can’t sit here and say we’re going to have all 13 picks this year. We could obviously move around. But I do think that’s the best thing about it: It gives us a little ammunition to move around, not only in the early rounds but even later rounds. If there’s a guy we really, really like — like we did last year with (offensive lineman Jason) Pinkston; we traded a couple of picks to move up and take him (in the fifth round) — it at least gives us the option of doing that again this year.”

Heckert said the Browns have pretty much completed their evaluation of this year’s draft prospects. He said three private on-campus workouts with players they consider top prospects are scheduled, and that meetings will begin this week with each of the 30 prospects the NFL allows each team to have visit its facility before the draft. The visits tend to provide a better setting for club officials to get better acquainted with the players than the brief sessions they’ve had with them at the Senior Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

“This time, we’ve got them in our facility and we can have them for as long as we want … there’s no time limit, there’s no one else around, just our guys,” Heckert said. “So you can really sit down and you can find out about guys. Our coaches can sit down and go over stuff with them, football-wise, just to make sure they’re smart enough for us to play. But then (it’s just sitting down to get to know the guy and make sure he’s the guy you want to take, especially when you’re talking about taking a guy with the fourth pick of 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: Mar. 28

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 28, 2012 – 5:47 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

In Browns history, March 28 is a date that has focused on running backs.

Fast ones and powerful ones.

It was on this date in 1933 that Chet Hanulak was born in Hackensack, N.J.

A second-round pick of the Browns in the 1954 NFL Draft out of Maryland, “Chet the Jet,” as he was called for his speed, played two seasons with the team. He rushed for 296 yards and four touchdowns and also served as the punt returner in 1954 as the Browns rolled to their first NFL title in four years.

After a stint in the service, Hanulak returned in 1957 to run for 375 yards and three scores, and returned punts again, as Cleveland made it to the championship game. Those were his only two seasons in the NFL.

On this date in 1983, a bruising and productive runner named Cleo Miller became the first Browns player to jump to the new USFL, signing a three-year contract with the Michigan Panthers after playing out his option with Cleveland.

A product of Arkansas-Pine Bluff, Miller came to the Browns midway through 1975 after spending his first 1½ NFL seasons with the Kansas City Chiefs. An extremely versatile back who could run the ball, catch it and block with equal effectiveness, he remained in Cleveland through 1982.

He rushed for 613 yards and four touchdowns in 1976 and then had his best season in ’77, finishing second on the team in rushing again, but this time with 756 yards, and getting four scores. He also led the Browns with 41 receptions.

Miller is still the 10th-leading career rusher in Browns history with 2,286 yards, which is a worthy accomplishment considering the team has four Pro Football Hall of Fame runners.

His best game with Cleveland came during a Thanksgiving weekend showdown in that 1980 Kardiac Kids season with the Houston Oilers at the Astrodome. Fueled by Miller’s six- and one-yard touchdown runs to provide a 14-0 lead in the second quarter, the Browns held on to win, 17-14.

How big was the victory?

For one, it gave the Browns an edge on the Oilers as the AFC Central race headed down the home stretch. The Browns held on to that advantage and captured their first division title in nine years.

It also excited the fans to the extent that 15,000 of them showed up at Hopkins Airport to welcome the team back to Cleveland that night, in effect shutting down the airport and bringing all the roads leading into it to a standstill.

Also on this date, March 28, in Browns history, tight end McDonald Oden (1958 in Franklin, Tenn.) and punter Bryan Wagner (1962 in Escondido, Calif.) were born.

A product of Tennessee State, Oden signed with the Browns as an undrafted rookie in 1980 and was also part of that Kardiac Kids team. He remained with the club through 1982 as a backup and special teamer and then retired.

Wagner, from Cal State-Northridge, came to the Browns in 1989 after spending his first two NFL seasons with the Chicago Bears. He stayed two years in Cleveland as well, averaging 39.4 and then 38.9 yards per kick, then played for the New England Patriots, Green Bay Packers and San Diego Chargers, ending his nine-year career following the 1995 season.

Wagner still lives in the Greater Cleveland area and is married to longtime Cleveland TV personality Robin Swoboda. He has done some coaching and served as the head coach at Doylestown Chippewa High School in northern Wayne County, about an hour south of Cleveland, for a time.

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.


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Shurmur on McCoy: ‘He’s chomping on the bit’

Posted by Vic Carucci on March 27, 2012 – 10:48 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

PALM BEACH, Fla. – Offseason preparation programs for all 32 NFL teams are set to begin on April 16.

And at least one player can’t wait to get started.

During an exclusive interview on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” on Tuesday from the NFL meetings here, coach Pat Shurmur said quarterback Colt McCoy was anxious to get started.

“My conversations with Colt have been very positive,” Shurmur said on the show. “He’s really looking forward to the preparation part, because this is where championships are made – in the offseason, preparing for training camp. And I think he’s looking forward to this phase of it, and I think he’s chomping at the bit to get back to Berea.”

Shurmur said he is in regular contact with McCoy, and is happy with the feedback he has received from him regarding his approach to the offseason.

“I communicate with him frequently; as much as once a week I’ll call him or text him to see how he’s doing,” the coach said. “And I think what’s important is – and professional players know this and football players are wired this way – that when it’s the offseason, teams are going to do what they can to improve the team. And if you’re currently on a team, what’s important is that you improve yourself and get better. And he knows that.

“I was talking to my son (Kyle) about it. He came in as a freshman at St. Ed’s (last year). I said, ‘The reality of it is, they’re going to try to find somebody better next year,’ so you learn how to deal with it. So they’re wired, as players, to deal with the competitive nature of the sport and new players competing for what you’re competing for.”

Shurmur also said there is plenty of reason to look forward to the Browns’ draft next month, especially with the addition of four compensatory picks that the NFL gave the team on Monday. That gives the Browns a total of 13 picks.

“You can’t talk about building a sustainable winner if you don’t build through the draft,” Shurmur said. “I still believe it’s the best way to build your team and we’ve displayed, especially last year (that we’ve) picked players that really helped us. So we’re excited. As we sit today, we have 13 draft picks, and that’s going to help us.

“Now the focus becomes, if nothing changes, go pick 13 guys that we think can start, contribute in a role, or make your team.”

>>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: Mar. 27

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 27, 2012 – 3:18 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

The NFL and AFL were moving toward a merger that would be completed by 1970, but a big step in the process occurred three years earlier when the leagues held their first combined draft.

And the 1967 NFL-AFL Draft, which began March 27 of that year, yielded quite a bit of talent for coach Blanton Collier’s Browns.

First-round pick Bob Matheson, a linebacker from Duke, played with the team through 1970 and either shared or held outright a starting job for all four seasons. He went on to play his next nine years with Miami and was the person for whom the Dolphins’ 53 defense was named and created. Matheson, wearing No. 53, would enter the game when the defense was implemented on passing downs.

Don Cockroft, a third-rounder from tiny Adams State, followed Pro Football Hall of Famer Lou Groza and continued the team’s outstanding kicking lineage in his 13-year career. He also doubled as the punter for the first nine seasons.

Fourth-rounder Joe Taffoni, from Tennessee-Martin, started at right tackle in the last half of his four-year career with Cleveland. Getting drafted was a nice 22nd birthday present for him. He was born March 27, 1945 in Carmichaels, Pa.

In the sixth round came Louisiana State’s John Demarie, who was at least a part-time starter at guard, tackle or center throughout his nine seasons with the Browns.

Offensive lineman Jim Copeland, a 10th-rounder from Virgina, played eight years in Cleveland, mostly as a backup.

Round No. 13 became a lucky one for the Browns, as it yielded linebacker Billy Andrews from Southeast Louisiana. He played eight seasons with Cleveland as well, being a part-time starter in three of his last four years.

Andrews’ breakthrough moment was a magical — and memorable — one. It came in the 1970 season opener when he intercepted Joe Namath’s pass with a minute left and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown to seal a 31-21 triumph over the New York Jets in the first Monday Night Football game ever played.

The Browns even found help in the 17th — and final — round with cornerback Ben Davis from tiny Defiance (Ohio) College. The brother of activist Angela Davis, he had 17 interceptions in his six seasons in Cleveland, leading the team with eight in 1968, when he also topped the NFL with 162 interception return yards.

Also on this day, March 27, in Browns history, wide receiver/returner Gerald McNeil was born in 1962 in Frankfurt, Germany while his father was in the service there. A Baylor product, he got his first taste of pro football with the USFL, but when the league went out of business, he became one of a number of good players from it who were taken by the Browns in the NFL Supplemental Draft in 1984 and ’85.

Drafted in 1984, he arrived in Cleveland two years later and played the last four years of the Browns’ great five-year run during the last half of that decade. His 100-yard kickoff return for a TD was key in the Browns’ 27-24 win at Pittsburgh in 1986 that broke the so-called 16-year “Three Rivers Jinx.”

McNeil also returned a punt for a TD that year.

The following season, he caught two scoring passes.

The 5-foot-7 McNeil was nicknamed “Ice Cube” for the fact that while he was listed at 145 pounds, he actually played at 125, making him the smallest player in Browns history.

Also born on March 27 — in 1922 in Chicago — was Alex Agase. Drafted by the Green Bay Packers in the sixth round in 1944, he opted instead to begin his pro career in 1947 in the All-America Football Conference. He split that season between the Los Angeles Dons and Chicago Hornets before beginning his four-year career with the AAFC’s Browns in 1948.

Cleveland won the league title with a perfect 15-0 record that year, and then for the following three seasons, Agase was a part-time starter at middle linebacker as the Browns made it to three more league titles games in the AAFC and NFL, winning two crowns.

Agase is better known nationally as having been a longtime coach in the Big Ten, being among the many former players for Browns coach Paul Brown who went into coaching themselves. He spent nine years at Northwestern (1964-72) and then four at Purdue.

Northwestern’s 14-10 victory over Ohio State in the next-to-last game of the 1971 season marks the last time the Wildcats have beaten the Buckeyes at Columbus.

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.


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Holmgren calls McCoy to talk about Browns QB talk

Posted by Vic Carucci on March 26, 2012 – 10:53 pm

By Vic Carucci, Senior Editor

PALM BEACH, Fla. – If you’re Colt McCoy, you’ve heard a whole lot of conversation about, well, yourself.

And most of the talk has involved the possibility of the Cleveland Browns finding a replacement for McCoy as their starting quarterback, as in pursuing the second overall pick of the draft to choose Baylor’s Robert Griffin III or shopping for a passer in free agency.

Browns president Mike Holmgren felt the time had come to give McCoy a phone call, which he made recently, as he revealed during an exclusive interview on “Cleveland Browns Daily, Driven by Liberty Ford” at the NFL owners’ meetings here.

“I just wanted to remind him there’s been a lot spoken and a lot written about our situation and other situations around the league, quite frankly,” Holmgren said on the show. “There’s a lot mentioned about the draft and potentially what we’re going to do. And all he can really control is what he does. All he can really do is become the best player he can be and try and block out all of the rest of the stuff.

“And that’s easier said than done, because we’re all human. But that was my message to him.”

Holmgren said McCoy responded well to what he heard during the conversation. And that was exactly what the club president expected.

“He responds like I expect him to respond, like he has responded to me and I think to (coach) Pat (Shurmur) and to anybody that talks to him in the building since he got to Cleveland,” Holmgren said. “He’s a very capable young man, he cares, he works harder than any 10 people. I mean, he’s what you want.”

Holmgren had a message for fans who don’t think McCoy is the right man to lead the Browns after they saw him and the rest of the team’s offense struggle during a 4-12 finish.

“He could be judged off of last year’s performance, but don’t judge him too harshly,” Holmgren said. “He got knocked around a little bit, a lot. His attitude was great. He’s actually entering into his really second full season of play, so he has a lot of years ahead of him. And we still all believe in what he can do.

“Now, I also said to him — and I’ve said it to other people — we’re always going to try to make the quarterback position competitive. We’re always going to be looking at other quarterbacks every year whether in the draft or free agency because of the importance of the position.”

>>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: Mar. 26

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 26, 2012 – 2:55 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

One of the biggest trades in NFL history took place on March 26, 1953, when the Browns and Baltimore Colts swapped 15 players, including two eventual members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The Browns sent defensive backs Don Shula and Carl Taseff, wide receiver Gern Nagler, guard Ed Sharkey, end Art Spinney, guard Elmer Willhoite, tackle Stu Scheetz, tackle Dick Batten, quarterback Harry Agannis and defensive back/kicker Bert Rechichar to Baltimore.

In return, Cleveland got right tackle Mike McCormack, defensive tackle Don Colo, linebacker Tom Catlin, guard Herschel Forester and defensive back John Pettibon.

It was a great move for the Browns, fortifying them for the rest of that decade. They won NFL titles in 1954 and ’55, made it to the championship game in 1953 and ’57 and nearly got there again in 1958.

McCormack played for the Browns through 1962 and is in the Hall of Fame.

Colo, a three-time Pro Bowler, stayed in Cleveland through 1958.

Forester was with the Browns from 1954-57 and was a part-time starter for the last two years.

Catlin did two stints in Cleveland, 1953-54 and 1957-58, and was a starter at left linebacker on the 1954 championship club.

Pettibon played for the Browns in 1955 and ’56 and started at right safety the second year.

As for the players the Browns gave up, Shula, from Painesville (Ohio) Harvey High School and John Carroll University in Cleveland, went on to become a Hall of Fame coach with the Colts and Miami Dolphins; Taseff, from Cleveland East High School and John Carroll, was a longtime assistant coach under Shula; Nagler returned to play for the Browns in 1960 and ’61; Agganis, the second of the Browns’ two-first round picks in the 1952 NFL Draft, was the father of Mike Agannis, owner of the Akron (Ohio) Aeros baseball team, the Class AA affiliate of the Cleveland Indians; and Rechichar, the Browns’ other first-round draft pick in 1952, held the NFL record for longest field goal (56 yards in 1953) for 17 years.

Also on this date, March 26, in Browns history, quarterback Jim Ninowski was born in 1936 in Detroit. A fourth-round draft pick of the Browns in 1958 out of Michigan State, he was a backup for the team in 1958 and ’59 and then was traded to Detroit.

He started for the Lions for two years and then was dealt back to Cleveland, sharing the job with Frank Ryan in 1962 and then serving as his backup from 1963-66.

Overall with the Browns, Ninowski passed for 20 touchdowns, including four in 1966 in just 18 attempts.

Ninowski then finished his 10-year career by spending 1967 and ’68 with the Washington Redskins and 1969 with the New Orleans Saints.

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.


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