FORD, LEONARD "LENNY" (18 Feb. 1926-13 Mar. 1972), defensive end for the CLEVELAND BROWNS from 1950-57 and Pro Football Hall of Famer (1976), was born in Washington, D.C., to Lenny Guy and Gerlean Ford. He was captain of the football, baseball, and basketball teams his senior year at Armstrong High School. Ford began college at Morgan State, but transferred to the University of Michigan where he was a football All-American in 1946 and 1947 and played in the 1948 Rose Bowl. He began his professional career playing both offensive and defensive end for the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference in 1948 and 1949, catching 67 passes on offense.
The Browns acquired Ford after the 1949 season in the draft held to allocate players from failed AAFC teams. Coach Paul Brown used Ford strictly on defense, and although he missed most of the 1950 season with a fractured jaw, Ford returned during the 1950 championship game to tackle Los Angeles Rams ball carriers for losses on 3 successive plays. An excellent pass rusher, standing 6' 5" and weighing 260 lbs., Ford was named to the All-NFL All-Star team each year from 1951-55. On 19 May 1958, however, the Browns traded Ford to the Green Bay Packers, for whom he played 1 season before retiring. During his 11-year professional career, Ford recovered 20 fumbles. After his retirement, Ford lived in Detroit and studied law, working as the assistant director of the Considine Recreation Center at the time of his death. Ford married Geraldine Bledsoe in 1951. His wife went on to become a municipal judge in Detroit. The couple had two children, Anita and Deborah; they divorced in 1959. Ford is buried in Washington, D.C.Last Modified: 10 Jul 1997 05:11:12 PM