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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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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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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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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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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This Day in Browns History: Mar. 24

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 24, 2012 – 5:14 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Sidney Williams’ football career was a real success story.

Born March 24, 1942 in Shreveport, Williams played at tiny Southern and was taken by the Browns in the 17th round of the 1964 NFL Draft.

The Browns were a veteran team stocked with good players. There wasn’t much room for rookies, especially those played collegiately at out-of-the-way schools and then were drafted three rounds from the bottom.

Yet Williams, a linebacker, performed so well in training camp and the preseason in 1964 that he won a roster spot as a reserve on defense and a special teamer.

As it turned out, he got to play with an NFL champion as the Browns stunned the heavily-favored Baltimore Colts, 27-0, in the title game.

He returned with the Browns to the championship game the following year – a loss to the Green Bay Packers. It was in that 1965 season that he made his biggest contribution in Cleveland by sharing the starting job at right linebacker with Galen Fiss.

Williams spent the last of his three seasons with the Browns in 1966, then went to the Washington Redskins the following year and to the Colts in 1968, where he played for an NFL champion again in the days before the league’s merger with the AFL. Baltimore won the league title to advance to the Super Bowl with a victory over Williams’ old team at Cleveland Stadium.

He finished his six-year NFL career by playing with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1969.

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. 23

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 23, 2012 – 4:05 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

When it comes to providing opportunities for African American in sports and other areas, Cleveland has always been on the cutting edge.

Pro Football Hall of Famers Bill Willis and Marion Motley permanently broke the color barrier not just in pro football but also pro sports overall coming out of World War II when they appeared in the Browns’ first regular-season game on Sept. 6, 1946.

Less than a year later, in July 1947, the Indians’ Larry Doby broke the color barrier in the American League.

In 1967, Cleveland voters elected Carl Stokes as the first African American mayor of a major city.

In 1969, former Browns running back Ernie Green became one of the first African American assistant coaches in the NFL when he tutored the running backs for his old team.

In 1975, the Indians’ Frank Robinson served as the first African American manager in major league baseball.

And finally, on March 23, 1981, Hall of Fame wide receiver Paul Warfield became one of the highest-ranking African Americans in NFL management when he was named assistant to Browns owner Art Modell.

Warfield, who played at Warren (Ohio) Harding High School, Ohio State and then with the Browns from 1964-69 and 1976-77, had been assistant director of pro personnel under Allan Webb. His new duties included working in player relations and in league matters.

Also on this day, March 23, in Browns history, Mark Buben was born in 1957 in Auburn, Maine. A product of Tufts, the defensive lineman ended his three-year career by playing briefly with the Browns in the strike-shortened 1982 season. He broke into the NFL in 1979 and ’81 with the New England Patriots.

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. 22

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 22, 2012 – 2:46 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

March 22 is one of the most significant – and also, saddest and busiest – dates in Browns history.

On this date in 1961, Art Modell purchased the Browns, and Blanton Collier, who coached the 1964 NFL championship team, died in 1983.

Four ex-players were also born on this date, including Cliff Lewis, the starter at quarterback – ahead of Pro Football Hall of Famer Otto Graham – in the Browns’ first regular-season game ever in 1946, and Cody Risien, one of the best right tackles in club history.

A 36-year-old advertising and television executive from New York, Modell headed a group that paid nearly $4 million for the Browns. Also part of that group was R.J. Schaeffer, owner of Schaeffer Breweries of New York.

Modell became chairman of the board, and Dave Jones stayed with the club as president. Paul Brown also remained as coach and general manager.

The Browns had been owned since 1953 by a group including Jones, Brown, Ellis Ryan and Homer Marshman.

Modell would remain owner of the team through 1995, after which he moved the franchise to Baltimore.

Collier passed away from cancer in Houston. He was 76.

He spent 19 seasons with the Browns over three coaching stints, beginning when he served as an assistant with the first eight Browns teams from 1946-53. After leaving to become coach at the University of Kentucky, he returned to Cleveland as an assistant in 1962 and then was named coach when Brown was dismissed after that season.

Collier coached the Browns for eight seasons, guiding them to five playoff appearances, including four trips to the NFL Championship Game.

He returned again one final time in 1975 and ’76 and, in his role as quarterbacks coach, tutored two players named Brian Sipe and Mike Phipps.

Lewis was born in 1923 in Lakewood, Ohio, just west of Cleveland, and went to Lakewood High School. He played at Duke and then joined the Browns when they were formed in 1946 to begin play in the new All-America Football Conference.

The fact he started ahead of Graham in the first game that year, against the Miami Seahawks on Sept. 6 at Cleveland, makes for a great trivia question. But Graham was inserted into the game in the first half and was entrenched in the position for the next 10 years as the Browns advanced to 10 straight league championship games and won seven titles.

With that, Lewis moved back to the lone safety spot in the team’s 5-3 defensive alignment and held the job for six straight years, playing on five league title teams, before retiring following the 1951 season.

Interestingly enough, Lewis went on to serve as the color analyst on Browns telecasts in 1961 and ’62 – after Graham had done the same in 1956, a year after his retirement as a player.

Born in 1957 in Bryan Tex., Risien played at Texas A&M and was a seventh-round choice of the Browns in the 1979 NFL Draft. He started at left guard that first year but moved to right tackle for the Kardiac Kids season of 1980 and remained there through 1983. He then played again from 1985-89 before abruptly – and surprisingly – retiring in the middle of training camp in 1990.

How good was Risien? He twice made it to the Pro Bowl, and after he did so following the 1987 season, no Browns offensive lineman was selected for 20 years, until rookie left tackle Joe Thomas following the 2007 season.

Also, the fact Risien missed all of 1984 because of a knee injury suffered late in the preseason finale against the Philadelphia Eagles, is viewed by many people as being the key reason why the Browns finished just 5-11 finish after having been picked to win the AFC Central championship.

Playing on the Browns line not long after Risien retired was John Rienstra. He finished his seven-year career by being Cleveland’s full-time starter at left guard in 1991 and then sharing the job the following season.

Born in 1963 in Grand Rapids, Mich., he went on to play at Temple and was a first-round draft choice of Pittsburgh in 1986, playing with the Steelers for five years before going to the Browns.

Wide receiver Ben Hawkins, born in 1944 in Newark, N.J., finished his nine-year career by playing with the Browns in 1974. Before that, he had been with the Eagles, being their third-round draft choice in 1966 out of Arizona State.

Hawkins, whose trademark was the fact he never buckled the chin strap on his helmet, caught 261 passes for 4,764 yards (an 18.3 yards-per-catch average) and 32 touchdowns. His best season was 1967 when he had 59 receptions for an NFL-best 1,265 yards (21.4) and 10 scores.

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. 21

Posted by Matt Florjancic on March 21, 2012 – 3:12 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Much has been made of the fact that it was tough for Don Cockroft to take over as Browns kicker in 1968 for Lou Groza after the Pro Football Hall of Famer retired for good.

But it was also difficult for Dick Schafrath to step in for Groza at left tackle in 1960 after he temporarily retired.

And just as Cockroft was successful, so was Schafrath.

Born March 21, 1937 in Canton, Ohio, Schafrath went to Wooster High School about 30 miles away and then played at Ohio State for coach Woody Hayes.

The Browns picked him in the second round of the 1959 NFL Draft, and he spent his rookie season backing up Groza and Willie Davis. Following that season, when Groza decided to quit the game because of a bad back, and Davis went on to the Green Bay Packers to begin a Hall of Fame career as a defensive lineman, Schafrath became the starter at left tackle.

Groza’s back healed and he returned to the Browns in 1961, but only as a kicker since Schafrath was already developing into a great left tackle. He went on to be selected for the Pro Bowl six times in a 13-career that lasted through 1971, tying guard Gene Hickerson for the most trips by a Browns offensive lineman.

And since Hickerson is in the Hall of Fame, there are plenty of people in Cleveland who believe Schafrath should be inducted there as well. Like Hickerson, Schafrath blocked for three HOF running backs in Jim Brown, Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Kelly, and offered protection for quarterback Frank Ryan as he threw to the likes of Hall of Famer Paul Warfield and Gary Collins.

Three other former Browns were also born on March 21 in centers Jay Hilgenberg (1959 in Iowa City, Iowa) and Frank Morze (1933 in Gardner, Mass.), and running back Larry Mason (1961 in Birmingham, Ala.).

In desperate need of a center, the Browns made a trade with the Chicago Bears to get Hilgenberg just as the 1992 season was ready to start. After having been a standout for the Bears for 11 seasons, he gave the Browns a solid, dependable and experienced player in the middle of the line for the year he spent with them. He finished his career with the New Orleans Saints in 1993.

Little known is the fact Hilgenberg’s father, Jerry Hilgenberg, a center from Iowa, was a fourth-round draft choice of the Browns in 1954 but never played for them.

Morze was a backup center for the Browns in 1962 and ’63. Originally a second-round draft choice by San Francisco in 1955 out of Boston College, he played with the 49ers for four years before coming to Cleveland, and one year after, retiring following the 1964 season.

A product of Southern Mississippi, Mason was a strike replacement player for the Browns in 1987, rushing for 207 yards and two touchdowns in the three games before the regular players returned. He went on to play a full season for the Green Bay Packers in 1988.

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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