Sunday, July 31, 2011

Paul Brown's Great Legacy of Equality

Vintage Football Card Gallery
1952 Bowman Small
Black Buzz Sports News Service
The Special Collection of The
Ronald B. Saunders' Papers
The Archives of The National Black
Political Caucus
Pittsburgh, PA
July 31, 2011


The below editorial appeared in the Pittsburgh Post Gazette on September 4, 1991 and is part of the Special Collection of The Ronald B. Saunders' Papers.

                          Paul Brown's Great Legacy of Equality

Your editorial on Coach Paul Brown (" Football's Great Innovator," Aug 7) was commendable.
Mr. Brown should also be remembered as one of the individuals who gave Black players the opportunity to compete with their White counterparts when the practice of equal opportunity was not in vogue.
His utilization of Black athletes on his Great Lakes Naval Squad at Ohio State University and with the Cleveland Browns was widely criticized at the time but Coach Brown persevered.
As a Black youngster growing up in the Hill District in the late 40's and early 50's, I couldn't identify with the Steelers who had an absence of Black players.
But the Browns had such outstanding Black players as Marion Motley, other Hall of Famers, Len Ford, Bill Willis and great Hall of Fame punter in Horace Gillom.
Mr. Brown also had the cream of the crop in White players such as Otto Graham, Dub Jones, Ken Carpenter, Dante Lavelli, Max Speedie, Lou "The Toe" Groza, Frank Gatski, Warren Lahr, Alex Agase, Lou Rymkus, Billy Reynolds, Big Bob Gain, George Ratterman, Carl Tassef, Don Shula, Cliff Lewis, Rex Bumgardner, Mike Phelps, Tony Adamle, Tommy James, Bill Priatko, Weldon Humble, Doug Atkins, Chubby Grigg, John Sandusky, Abe Gibron, George Young, Ray Renfro, Carlton Massey, Mike McCormack, Tom Catlin,  Don Paul, Tommy W. Thompson, Ken Gorgal, Walt Michaels, Gene Hickerson, and of course, Chuck Noll.
Coach Brown was truly a giant and our deepest and most sincere sympathy is extended to the Brown family, the Bengal Organization, the Cleveland Browns and to all the citizens of the Buckeye State.

                                                               Ronald B. Saunders, Chairman
                                                               The National Black Political Caucus
                                                               Pittsburgh, PA.

*Black Buzz notes that Coach Paul Brown drafted the greatest running back in pro football history in Jimmy Brown and he also drafted the last Big Ten Running Back to make it into Canton, Ohio in the great Bobby Mitchell of Illinois.
Paul Brown had an excellent eye for talent. He drafted a great local talent in Bert Rechichar, who would later get traded to the Baltimore Colts where he would kick the longest field goal in NFL history until Tom Dempsey of the Saints would break Bert's record breaking 56 yard field goal. Bert Rechichar was a very good safety, cornerback for the Colts and was an outstanding running back with the Tennessee Volunteers in College.

Paul Brown was the greatest coach in the history of Pro-football. When the Browns entered the NFL in 1950, they had won four straight titles in the rough and tumble All American Football Conference.
The top brass in the NFL thought the All-American Conference was a soft minor league, so they matched the Browns with the world champion Eagles in the Browns first NFL game.
Paul Brown's team, the Cleveland Browns beat the Eagles butt 35-10, and the Eagles coach stated the only thing that the Browns could do was pass.
So in the rematch game between the Browns and the Eagles, the Browns didn't throw one pass the whole game as they beat the Champion Eagles 13-7 with a steady diet of rushing with the big bruising Marion Motley, Rex Bumgardner, Dub Jones and the great Otto Graham.

Paul Brown invented the West Coast passing game. Who do you think  the great Bill Walsh and Sid Gillman learned that West Coast passing offense from?  They didn't call Brown's passing game "The West Coast Passing Offense" but it had exactly the same patterns run by Lavelli, Speedie and Dub Jones.
In the Brown's first year in the NFL, they only lost two games and both of them were to the great Giants of Steve Owens.  Because the Browns and the Giants had the same record, they met for the tie breaking game in which the winner would advance to the NFL Championship. Paul Brown figured out how to beat Steve Owens' "umbrella" defense and the Browns won their first play-off game
8-3 in the NFL as they advanced to the championship game. The Browns beat the Rams on a field goal by Lou "The Toe" Groza to capture their first NFL crown and Paul Brown's fifth straight Pro-Football Championship, which has  never been equalled to date.

From 1946-1955, the Cleveland Browns were the greatest and one of the best teams in pro-football history.  No coach in the history of pro-football has appeared in 10 straight championship games except for the legendary greatest of greats, Paul Brown. Coach Brown's record in those championship games is seven wins and three losses (7-3 ). Paul Brown's record in the All American Conference was 47 wins, 4 losses and 3 ties and his Browns also had a perfect season before the Dolphins' perfect season in 1972.
I repeat, in the Cleveland Browns' first 10 years of playing pro-football, they went to the Championship game 10 times straight, going 7-3 in those title games.

                                 The Paul Brown School of Coaching

Paul Brown has the largest coaching tree in NFL history with players who played or coached for him and were thus influenced by him in such names as Lou Saban, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh, Webb Eubank, Tony Dungy, Lovie Smith, Mike McCormack, Mike Tomlin, Blanton Collier, Abe Gibron, Sid Gillman, Otto Graham, Ara Parseghian, Bruce Coslett, Sam Wyche, Dennis Green, Mike Holgrem, Mike Shanahan, Don McCafferty, George Seifert, Brian Billick, Jon Gruden and hundreds of other successful coaches.
How many Super Bowls did Shula, Noll, Walsh, Dungy, Webb Eubank, Don McCafferty and George Siefert win?
You could see a lot of Paul Brown in the coaching style  and philosophy of the great Chuck Noll and Don Shula.

Coach Paul Brown was light years ahead of his time.  Paul Brown's QB's had radios in their helmets where Coach Brown would radio in the plays with a transmitter from above or on the field of play.  He also used the messenger guard system with Chuck Noll, John Wooten, Gene Hickerson, Weldon Humble, Ulinski and other guards to bring in plays to Otto Graham.
Paul Brown is given credit for inventing the "draw play" with big fullback Marion Motley, who was also a great pass receiver and linebacker.
Otto Graham is the only Quarterback in NFL history to appear as the starting QB in ten straight championship games.  I rate Otto Graham in the top five of the greatest Quarterbacks in NFL history.
No coach in the history of the game of pro-football could teach fundamentals/techniques as Paul Brown who was a Master at his craft.
As the elder statesman in the NFL, Paul Brown still led the Bengals to three play-off appearances, and as president/owner of the Bengals, his team appeared in two Super Bowls.
Just a little history---In 1930, Brown qualified for a Rhodes Scholarship.  In 1942, Paul Brown won the NCAA National Championship Football Title with the Ohio State Buckeyes.  Coach Brown integrated his team with Black players in the All American Football Conference before major league baseball was integrated with Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier.  No court of law or commission, agency, pressure group had to tell or compel Coach Brown to integrate his team with Black players.  Coach Brown was a decent human being with a good heart. 
No coach in the history of pro-football comes remotely close to the accomplishments of Paul Brown.
* My former boss, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Human Relations Commission, Homer S. Floyd of Zanesville, Ohio, who is now retired, once had a tryout with the Cleveland Browns during the Jim Brown era.  Mr. Floyd told me that even though he didn't make the Browns that Paul Brown was a total class act both on and off the field.

                                            VINTAGE FOOTBALL CARD GALLERY                                            1952 Bowman Small

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