Who is the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear number 65?
The Countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 65 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear number 65: John Demarie.
John Demarie was selected by the Cleveland Browns in the sixth round of the 1967 NFL draft out of Louisiana State University. Demarie fit the prototypical physical profile that the Browns liked in their offensive linemen. Listed at 6-foot-3 and 246lbs., the LSU offensive lineman was drafted by the Browns because of his versatility.
When Demarie arrived in Cleveland the starters on the offensive line were already set. The left side of the line was fortified with Dick Schafrath at tackle and John Wooten at guard. Fred Hoaglin was entering his first full season as the Browns starting center.
The right side of the line boasted Gene Hickerson at guard and veteran Monte Clark at tackle. With that unit already in place, Demarie was going to need his versatility if he was going to see the field as a rookie.
Demarie’s versatility proved value as he was able to spell Clark and start five games at right tackle his rookie season. However, it was in his second season that Demarie would take over at left guard, after Wooten was released by owner Art Modell. Demarie took the opportunity to play between Hoaglin and Schafrath and ceased it.
The Browns offensive line remained one of the finest in all of professional football after switching Demarie in at left guard. In 1968, the unit paved the way for Leroy Kelly to lead the league in rushing as well as providing the best pass protection in the league for quarterback Bill Nelson.
Demarie remained the Browns left guard for four seasons before making the switch to play right guard after the retirement of Hall of Fame guard Hickerson in 1972. Having the pressure of filling the shoes of two legendary Browns offensive lineman did not affect Demarie. He took to the field with the same workmanlike attitude that his predecessors played the game with.
Demarie played as the Browns starting right guard for three seasons before playing his final year for the team at center. During his time in Cleveland, Demarie played every position on the offensive line with the exception of left tackle. Demarie’s last season as a professional football player was spent reunited with his former center, and friend, Fred Hoaglin in Seattle, as members of the expansion Seahawks.
Demarie played in Cleveland for 9 years, and he is the best to ever don the number 65.
Honorable Mention: Chuck Noll.