Paul Brown is known as a legendary figure in Cleveland. Anyone who has a professional sports team named after them is usually a rather big deal.
In the team’s first four years of existence, as part of the All-America Football Conference, Brown coached his team to four straight championships and a record of 47-4-3.
The team then moved to the NFL in 1950, where Brown took the Browns to six straight NFL championship games, winning three (1950, 1954, 1955).
Things were going well on the field, but Brown was notorious for running an authoritative system. His style led to his own players founding the NFL Player’s Association, which does not reflect well on Brown as an individual.
Enter Art Modell, infamous villain, and things began to change. Modell wanted more control over the football side of things, and Brown was not going to let that happen.
The breaking point came when Brown traded running back Bobby Mitchell to the Washington Redskins for Ernie Davis without telling Modell. Once it was known that Davis had leukemia, Brown refused to play him even when the disease was in remission.
It is hard to blame Brown for keeping Davis out, but Modell had enough with the team’s namesake and fired him after the 1962 season.
There are those who may cite this as one of the reasons why Modell is so hated in Cleveland, but he was left with no choice. Brown wanted too much power, and had not only alienated his boss, but his players as well. Losing the player’s as a coach in today’s game is an instant fireable offense, and Brown was no exception back in the 1960’s, even if he thought of himself as a permanent part of the franchise.
He would go on to be the co-founder of the Cincinnati Bengals, where he served as head coach and GM from 1968-1975.
The Bengals’ stadium is named after Brown, but he will always be remembered for his greatness and contributions to football in Cleveland. – SK
Next: No. 1: The Browns leave Cleveland