By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com
March 2, 1946 was a big day for Paul Brown, even though the Browns hired him the previous year and he wouldn’t coach his first regular-season game for more than six months.
That was the date Brown left the Navy as World War II was winding down, and took over full-time duties as coach and general manager of the start-up Browns.
Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown coached 17 years for the Browns, guiding them to 11 league championship games and seven titles. He was at his best in the first 10 seasons from 1946-55, as the Browns played in 10 consecutive league title contests and won all seven of those crowns, four in a row in the All-America Football Conference from 1946-49 and then three in the NFL in 1950, ’54 and ’55.
Before he came to the Browns, Brown had coached at Ohio State, leading the Buckeyes to their first national championship in 1942. And a former Ohio State great who went on to play for the Browns in 1962, Brown’s final season with the team, is running back Howard “Hopalong” Cassady.
Born March 2, 1934 in Columbus, Ohio, Cassady played at Columbus Central High School and won the Heisman Trophy in 1955. He was taken by Detroit in the first round of the 1956 NFL Draft and played six years with the Lions before splitting the 1962 season with the Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.
He returned to Detroit briefly in 1963 to finish his career.
Cassady is one of six Heisman Trophy winners to have spent time with the Browns as players, joining running backs Ernie Davis (1961 at Syracuse), Charles White (1979, USC) and Rashaan Salaam (1994, Colorado), and quarterbacks Vinny Testaverde (1986, Miami, Fla.) and Ty Detmer (1990, Brigham Young).
In addition, John David Crow, who won the Heisman in 1957 as a running back at Texas A&M, served as a running backs coach with the Browns.
Two other former Browns were also born March 2, linebacker Wayne Meylan (1946 in Bay City, Mich., the same day that Paul Brown joined the Browns) and wide receiver/returner Preston Brown (1958 in Nashville, Tenn.).
Meylan was a fourth-round draft pick of the Browns in 1968 out of Nebraska and was with them for two years before going to the Minnesota Vikings in 1970 and playing briefly before retiring.
Brown, from Vanderbilt, was a sixth-round draft choice of New England in 1980 and played for the Patriots and New York Jets before seeing action in two games with the Browns in 1984 and then retiring.
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