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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BROWN, PAUL E. - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BROWN, PAUL E. (7 Sept. 1908-5 Aug. 1991) was the head coach of the CLEVELAND BROWNS from its beginnings in 1946 through 1962. An innovative and highly successful coach at all levels, Brown developed coaching procedures that revolutionized modern football and earned him election into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. Brown was born in Norwalk, Ohio, the son of Ida (Sherwood) and Lester Brown. He moved with his family to Massillon, O., where Brown became the quarterback of the high school football team. Considered too small for football at Ohio State Univ., he transferred to Miami Univ. in Oxford, O., and played quarterback there in the 1920s. Brown began his coaching career in 1930 at Severn Prep School in Annapolis, Md. He returned to Massillon in 1932 as head coach at Washington High School. In 9 seasons his teams won 80 games, including a 35-game winning streak. In 1941 Brown became head football coach at Ohio State, where his team won the national championship in 1942. During WORLD WAR II Brown was the head coach at the Great Lakes Naval Training Ctr. near Chicago. In 1945 he agreed to become head coach and 5% owner of a new professional franchise being formed in Cleveland. Brown was able to recruit the best players he had seen in his years at Ohio State and Great Lakes for the team which was named in his honor. Beginning in 1946, the Browns won 4 consecutive All-America Football Conference championships (1946-49) and 3 National Football League title games (1950, 1954, and 1955) while compiling a record during his tenure of 158-48-8. Nine of the Brown's players were inducted into the Hall of Fame. Nevertheless a new team owner, Art Modell, fired Brown on 7 Jan. 1963. Brown returned to coaching in 1968 after establishing the Cincinnati Bengals. Retiring as coach after the 1975 season, he continued as the team's vice-president and general mgr. Among his coaching innovations were the use of intelligence tests for players, the creation of written playbooks, the calling of plays through messenger guards, the grading of players after the review of game films, and the adoption of the protective face mask. Brown was first married in 1929 to his high school sweetheart, Kathryn (Katie) Kester. After her death in 1969, he married his former secretary, Mary Rightsell, in 1973. He died in Cincinnati, survived by 2 sons, Mike and Pete. He is buried in Rose Hill Memorial Park, near Massillon.

Grabowski, John J. Sports in Cleveland: An Illustrated History (1992).

Last Modified: 10 Jul 1997 05:11:02 PM

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