By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com
Jim Copeland and Mickey Sims, two players from the trenches who impacted the Browns in different ways, were born on March 5.
Copeland, an offensive lineman who was born in 1945 in Charlottesville, Va., played at Virginia and then was taken by Cleveland in the 10th round in the 1967 NFL Draft. He spent all of his eight-year career (1967-74) with the Browns, and was mostly a valuable reserve with his ability to play both center and the guard spots.
Copeland’s two best seasons might have been when he shared the center job, first with Fred Hoaglin in 1971 on a team that went 9-5 and captured the AFC Central championship, and then with Bob DeMarco in 1973 on a club that started 7-3-1, but faded down the stretch to go 7-5-2 and miss the playoffs.
Sims, a defensive tackle born in 1955 in Union City, S.C., was a fourth-round draft pick of the Browns in 1977 out of South Carolina State. He played in 43 games over his three-year career (1977-79) – all with Cleveland – but the most memorable was his first.
Pressed into duty by injuries in the 1977 opener at Cincinnati, Sims was outstanding, helping to spearhead a defense that stymied a Bengals team that had shared the best record in the division with Pittsburgh the previous year. The result was a 13-3 upset win that got the Browns started on their way to a 5-2 record at the halfway point of the season.
Three other former Browns were also born on March 5, all in Florida: defensive back Will Hill (1963, Vero Beach), linebacker Dale Carver (1961, Melbourne), and running back Tom Sullivan (1950, Jacksonville). And they all played only one season in Cleveland, then ended up retiring.
Hill was a rookie free agent from Bishop who played 16 games in 1988 for a club that went 10-6 and made the playoffs as a wild card.
A rookie free agent as well from Georgia, Carver was in all 16 games in 1983 as the Browns finished 9-7 and just missed making the playoffs.
Sullivan, who played at Miami (Fla.), was a 15th-round draft choice of Philadelphia in 1972, rushing for 3,135 yards and 17 touchdowns, and catching 161 passes for five scores, in a six-year career with the Eagles. He then spent four games with the Browns in 1978.
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