Who is the best player to wear number 62 for the Cleveland Browns?
The Countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 62 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear number 62: Cliff Lewis.
Pop quiz, who was the first starting quarterback in franchise history for the Cleveland Browns? I will give you a hint, it’s not Otto Graham. Times up…the answer is Cliff Lewis.
Lewis was the starting quarterback for the first three games of the Browns inaugural season in 1946. Even though Graham took a commanding lead on the quarterback position Lewis was not just a second-string player taking up room on the sidelines. Lewis played many different positions are proved himself to be immensely valuable on numerous occasions.
Lewis spent his entire professional football career as a member of the Browns, however, he was selected by the Los Angeles Rams in the 1946 NFL Draft. Fortunately for the Browns, the NFL commissioner, Bert Bell, ruled that Lewis was ineligible to play because he had another year of college eligibility. It’s crazy how much the rules have changed for the NFL. No such rules existed in the newly formed All-America Football Conference.
The Browns head coach, Paul Brown, jumped all over the chance to bring Lewis to Cleveland. Although Lewis played two years of collegiate football at Duke University, it was during his time in the Navy playing for the California Bluejackets service team that he proved how versatile he was. He played defensive back, running back, returned kicks, and was the Bluejackets’ alternate quarterback.
Coach Brown leaned all Lewis’ versatility in Cleveland once Graham took control of the starting quarterback position. Lewis played extensively at defensive back and rotated in as one of the kickoff and punt returners, while still maintaining the backup quarterback position. During the four years that the Browns ruled the AAFC, Lewis registered an astounding 24 interceptions.
The Browns were absorbed into the NFL after the AAFC had dissolved prior to the 1950 season. Lewis only played two more seasons after the Browns entered the NFL. His best season as a professional came in Lewis’ final season in 1951. He earned second-team All-NFL for his stellar defensive play.
Lewis had 30 total interceptions in only 71 career games. That total would tie him for fifth-most in team history with Ken Konz. However, the NFL doesn’t recognize stats that players accrued while in the AAFC. In addition, Lewis threw for seven touchdowns as a backup in spot duty and returned over 700 yards of punt returns in his career.
Cliff Lewis is not only an answer to a trivia question, but he was also an outstanding defensive back who affected the game in many ways, and he is the best player to ever wear number 62 for the Cleveland Browns.