Countdown to 2020: Best Cleveland Browns player to wear No. 25
Who is the best player to wear No. 25 for the Cleveland Browns?
The countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 25 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear number 25: Frank Pitts.
Frank Pitts was drafted by teams in both the NFL and the AFL in 1965. The Chicago Bears selected Pitts in the 16th round, and the Kansas City Chiefs used a fourth-round pick on the receiver from Southern University. Pitts chose to go to the AFL and join the Chiefs. That decision paid off as he would go on to play in two Super Bowls and win the 1969 contest between the AFL and NFL.
Pitts spent six seasons as a member of the Chiefs before the Browns made a play for the talented split end. Cleveland would trade Kansas City two picks, a 1972 fourth-round selection and a 1973 third-round selection to obtain Pitts.
Although Pitts spent the majority of his first season in Cleveland as the backup to Gary Collins and Fair Hooker, he was able to show the talent the made him a coveted asset to the Browns. Pitts finished fourth on the team in receptions with 27, third in yards with 487, and led the team in touchdown receptions with four. Pitts’ 18 yards per reception was also the most for any Browns player in 1971.
His best season as a professional came in 1972. After the retirement of Collins, Pitts would step in to be the full-time starter for the Browns. He took advantage of his new role and go on to set career highs in both receptions and touchdowns. Pitts led the Browns across the board with 36 receptions, 620 yards, and eight touchdowns.
Pitts followed up his best season by once again leading the Browns in receptions and touchdowns. However, Pitts’ numbers did take a dip in 1973. Although his number of receptions were nearly the same, with 31 catches, his yardage was cut almost in half as were his touchdown receptions. His 10.2 yards per reception were a career-low at the time.
The Browns and owner Art Modell moved on from Pitts after the 1973 season and traded him to the Oakland Raiders for a future draft pick. Although Pitts’ career as a Brown was only three seasons, it proved to be the most productive stretch of his professional career. In three seasons Pitts caught 94 passes for 1,424 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Frank Pitts is the best player to wear number 25 for the Cleveland Browns.