Blanton Collier

Blanton Long Collier (July 2, 1906 – March 22, 1983) was an American football head coach who coached at the University of Kentucky between 1954 and 1961 and for the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League (NFL) between 1963 and 1970. His 1964 Browns team won the NFL championship and remains the second most recent Cleveland professional sports team to win a title.[1]

Collier grew up in Paris, Kentucky and attended Paris High School. After graduating from Georgetown College, he returned to his old high school to teach and coach sports for 16 years. Collier left the position to join the U.S. Navy in 1943 during World War II. At a naval base outside of Chicago he met Paul Brown, who was coaching a service football team there. After the war, Brown hired Collier as an assistant coach for the Browns, a team under formation in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). After seven years as Brown's top aide, a span over which the Cleveland team won five league championships, Collier took a job as head football coach at Kentucky in 1954. His Kentucky Wildcats teams amassed a 41–36–3 win-loss-tie record over eight seasons.

Collier was fired after the 1961 season and Brown re-hired him as an assistant. Art Modell, the owner of the Browns, then fired Brown in 1963 and promoted Collier to head coach. Under Collier, the Browns reached the NFL championship game four times and won once, in 1964. Struggling with hearing loss, Collier retired after the 1970 season, although he remained a scout and quarterbacks coach for several more years. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1976 and retired to Texas, where he died in 1983.[2]

Collier was well-liked by players and renowned as a good sportsman and student of the game. The Kentucky chapter of the NFL Players Association in 2007 established the Blanton Collier Award in his honor. The Paris High School football field is named after him.

Blanton Collier
Blanton Collier, American football coach, in 1963
Collier on the sidelines in 1963
Born:July 2, 1906
Millersburg, Kentucky
Died:March 22, 1983 (aged 76)
Houston, Texas
Career information
Position(s)HC
CollegeGeorgetown (KY)
High schoolParis (KY)
Career history
As coach
1928–1943Paris (KY) HS
1944–1945Great Lakes Navy (asst.)
1946–1953Cleveland Browns (asst.)
1954–1961Kentucky
1962Cleveland Browns (asst.)
1963–1970Cleveland Browns
AwardsNFL champion (1964)
SEC Coach of the Year (1954)
RecordsProfessional: 76–34–2 (.688)
College: 41–36–3 (.531)
High school: 73–50–10 (.586)
Military career
AllegianceUnited States United States
Service/branchUnited States Navy seal U.S. Navy
Years of service1943–1945
UnitGreat Lakes Training Station
Battles/warsWorld War II

Early life and college career

Born in Millersburg, Kentucky, to O.H. and Eva (née Long) Collier,[3] the family moved to nearby Paris when Collier was age six.[1] He attended from Paris High School, where he played football and basketball,[3] and worked as a tobacco-picker in the summers during high school.[4] After graduating, he enrolled at Kentucky's Georgetown College, playing on the football team and earning a bachelor of arts degree in 1927.[3][5]

High school and assistant coaching career

Collier went to work at Paris High School in 1928 as a mathematics teacher and coached several of the school's sports teams.[3] He got the nickname "George" when he was a teacher because he affectionately called most of his male students "George" and most of his female students "Martha".[4] He married Mary Varder from Paris in 1930 and spent sixteen years at the high school before enlisting in the U.S. Navy in 1943 during World War II.[3] Collier's Paris football team had an overall win-loss-tie record of 73–50–10.[6] Collier was 37 years old when he joined the military; although he likely could have avoided enlisting because he was a teacher and had a family, he felt serving in the war was his duty.[7]

Collier was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station north of Chicago, where he was a survival swimming instructor.[7] It was in the Navy that Collier first had trouble with his hearing, a problem that dogged him later in life. He was once called to report to his ship over a loudspeaker but did not hear it.[7] Doctors thought his hearing may have been damaged by teaching swimming in a tidal pool or from practicing on the shooting range.[7] "It never became an issue until the Navy, when they figured he had less than 40% of a normal person's hearing," his daughter Kay Collier-Slone said in 1997.[7] To compensate for his hearing loss, Collier became an expert lip-reader.[7]

At Great Lakes, Collier went regularly to observe the practices of the station's service football team, the Great Lakes Bluejackets.[8] There he met Paul Brown, who had left a head coaching job at Ohio State University to serve in the Navy and lead the Bluejackets team.[5][8] Collier took notes and hoped to pick up some football knowledge he could use when he returned to Paris.[9] Brown, however, noticed Collier's dedication and brought him onto his staff as a volunteer assistant.[8]

In 1945, Brown was hired by Arthur B. McBride as the first coach of the Cleveland Browns, a team under formation in the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC).[10] Brown hired Collier as a backfield coach for the team, which was set to begin play in 1946.[5] Initially his specialty was pass defense, but Brown soon rewarded Collier's extensive football knowledge with a broader assistant coaching assignment.[5]

Collier served under Brown from 1946 to 1953, a period in which the team won all four titles in the AAFC before moving to the National Football League (NFL) in 1950.[11] That season the Browns captured the NFL title and then reached but lost the following three championship games.[12] Collier's coaching style was the opposite of Brown's; Brown was a disciplinarian whose stern nature and aloofness often brought him into conflict with players, while Collier was a friendly, warm man whose patience and studiousness endeared him to players.[5] "Everything had to be perfect; he was a stickler on perfection – but at the same time, he had great patience," Browns quarterback Otto Graham said in 2007.[5] After the 1946 season, Brown asked Collier to analyze every play run by the offense, and Collier came up with a detailed breakdown of why each play succeeded or failed. This was the genesis of an annual grading system Collier developed to evaluate players' performance. The Browns used it for many years.[13]

University of Kentucky

When University of Kentucky head football coach Bear Bryant left for Texas A&M University after the 1953 season, Collier accepted an offer to succeed him.[14] He stayed at Kentucky for eight years, a span during which the Wildcats football team had a 41–36–3 record, including a 5–2–1 record against arch-rival Tennessee.[3][15] Notable wins included a 1954 victory at Georgia Tech, then ranked 15th in the AP Poll, and defeats of eighth-ranked Ole Miss in 1955 and 12th-ranked Tennessee in 1957.[16][17][18] In 1954, Collier was named the coach of the year in the Southeastern Conference.[3]

Despite a winning record, Collier was fired in January 1962, when he was making $17,500 per year (about $145,000 in 2018 dollars).[19] He was replaced a week later by Charlie Bradshaw, an assistant to Bear Bryant at Alabama.[20] Bryant had led the Wildcats to appearances in three major bowl games, but Collier never led the Wildcats to a bowl during his tenure. His best record was in his first year, when the team finished 7–2.[19]

Kentucky's football program was overshadowed by its successful basketball program during Collier's tenure. Collier was also criticized for his poor recruiting skills, a crucial factor for college coaches.[21] Many fans wrote the university to complain about him and his staff.[22] Still, several future star coaches served as assistants under Collier at Kentucky, including Don Shula, Chuck Knox, Howard Schnellenberger and Bill Arnsparger.[22][23] Standout players under Collier included All-Americans Lou Michaels and Schnellenberger.[15]

Cleveland Browns

After losing his job at Kentucky, Collier said he was unsure what he would do next.[19] "Right now I feel I would like to remain in football if the opportunity presents itself," he said.[19] Two weeks later, Brown brought him back onto the Cleveland Browns staff as an offensive assistant.[24] Collier and Brown had remained close friends during his time at Kentucky. Collier attended the Browns' training camps in Ohio during the summers, and Brown's family visited Collier on occasion in Lexington.[9] Collier said he was happy to be back with the Browns, saying it was "like returning home".[25] Brown praised Collier's teaching and called him a "scientific football man" and "one of my closest friends".[25]

By the time Collier rejoined the Browns, the team was in the throes of a transition. Art Modell had bought the club in 1961 and was locked in a bitter power struggle with Brown.[26] The two men came into conflict over Brown's autocratic coaching style and his failure to notify Modell about personnel decisions. Without informing Modell, Brown in 1962 traded away star halfback Bobby Mitchell for the right to draft Ernie Davis, a back who won the Heisman Trophy and surpassed Jim Brown's rushing records at Syracuse University.[27] Davis died of leukemia before he played a down for the Browns.[28] Brown's relationship with Jim Brown, the team's star fullback, was another source of tension between Modell and Paul Brown. Jim Brown grew increasingly independent as he rose to fame. He started a weekly radio show, which grated against Paul Brown's emphasis on discipline and teamwork over individualism. Other players, including quarterback Milt Plum, openly questioned Paul Brown's coaching and his control over the team's play-calling.[29]

Brown made some changes as a result of the pressure from his players and Modell, and allowed Collier to put into place a "check off system" that allowed the quarterback to run several approved alternative plays to the ones Brown called.[25] When Collier was praised in the Cleveland Press for instituting the system successfully, however, Brown put an end to it.[25] "The players believed that Paul was upset when Blanton received some good press," former Browns quarterback Jim Ninowski said in 1997. "Paul just junked Blanton's system, as if to say, 'Hey, I'm running the show now'."[30] As Collier grew apart from Brown, he became closer to Modell, who enjoyed discussing football minutiae with him.[31]

After a 7–6–1 season in 1962, Modell fired Brown and offered the head coaching job to Collier.[32] Collier told Modell he first needed the blessing of his wife and of Brown, to whom he still felt a sense of loyalty. He called Brown, who told him he had to take the job because he had a family to support.[33] Collier accepted a three-year contract that would pay him $35,000 a year (about $286,000 in 2018 dollars).[33] In contrast with Brown, Collier was almost universally liked by players and other coaches.[34] He was soft-spoken, which was unusual for a head coach, but he earned the respect of the team with his extensive knowledge and his willingness to give players more freedom than Brown ever did. One significant difference was his approach to play-calling. Like Brown, Collier served as his own play-caller. However, he let Frank Ryan, who replaced Plum as the team's starting quarterback in 1963, change plays at the line of scrimmage and allowed more flexibility in pass routes and blocking schemes.[35]

The changes paid off. In 1963, the team finished 10–4, and Jim Brown broke the NFL's single-season rushing record with 1,863 yards.[36] Brown was also voted the league's Most Valuable Player.[37] Cleveland, however, finished a game behind the New York Giants and did not reach the championship game. The Browns had started out 6–0 but faltered after racial divisions cropped up within the team. Some black players believed white teammates were getting to play ahead of them because of their race.[37] Toward the end of the season, Collier met with the team's leaders and told them the racism had to stop. After the season, he traded away players he thought were sowing discord and opened up a dialogue with those who remained to stamp out the tension.[38]

1964 championship

Cleveland climbed back to the top of the Eastern Conference in 1964 with a 10–3–1 record behind Jim Brown's league-leading 1,446 yards of rushing and reached the championship game against the Baltimore Colts.[39] Most sportswriters predicted an easy win for the Colts, who led the league in scoring behind quarterback Johnny Unitas and halfback Lenny Moore. The Browns' defense, moreover, was suspect. The team gave up 20 more first downs than any other in the league.[40] The teams, however, had not faced each other for three years. Before the game, Collier and Colts coach Don Shula agreed to give each other full access to video of regular-season games. Ever the student, Collier took full advantage of the opportunity. The Browns had run what was dubbed a "rubber band" pass defense, allowing short throws while trying to prevent big plays. The Colts' top receivers, however, Raymond Berry and Jimmy Orr, were not fast. They tended to pick apart defenses with short, tactical completions, which led Collier to institute a man-to-man pass defense for the game. This, he figured, would buy more time for the defensive line and force Unitas to scramble — not his forte.[41]

The strategy worked, and in Cleveland Municipal Stadium two days after Christmas, the Browns beat the Colts 27–0.[42] The Browns scored 10 points in the third quarter and a further 17 in the fourth, clinching the team's first title since Otto Graham's departure after the 1955 season. [43]

Later Seasons

The Browns ended with an 11–3 record the following year and comfortably won the East for the second year in a row.[44] That set up a second straight appearance in the NFL Championship game in Green Bay against the Packers. The teams battled it out on a slippery, mucky Lambeau Field on January 2, 1966. While score was close early on, Vince Lombardi's team held the Browns scoreless in the second half, winning 23–12 in an upset on a Paul Hornung touchdown.[45] Despite Jim Brown's retirement after the 1965 season, the Browns had another four consecutive winning seasons and advanced to the NFL championship game in 1968 and 1969 under Collier, but lost both times.[46][47]

Plagued by hearing problems, the 64-year-old coach announced his retirement before the end of the 1970 season, which the Browns finished with a 7–7 record.[48] Collier told Modell that he could no longer hear his players, and it was difficult to read their lips through new face masks that obscured their mouths.[49] Modell tried to help by getting Collier to try new hearing aids and even sent him for acupuncture treatment, but none of it worked.[50] Collier struggled during press conferences because he often could not hear what reporters were asking and answered the wrong questions.[51] In eight years as coach, Collier led Cleveland to a championship and a 76–34–2 record.[48] Nick Skorich, who came to the Browns as offensive coordinator in 1964, was named as his replacement in 1971.[52]

Later life and death

Collier continued to work with the Browns after he stepped down, serving as a scout and quarterbacks coach until leaving the game for good in 1976.[53] He was the coach of the college team in the 1971 College All-Star Game, a now-defunct matchup between the NFL champion and a selection of the best college players from around the country, replacing former Browns quarterback Otto Graham.[54] Georgetown College in 1970 awarded him an honorary doctorate of laws degree.[3]

Collier was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 1976 and retired to a house on a lake in Texas, where he played golf and visited with friends and family.[49] He died of the disease in 1983.[55] His wife died in 1996 and was buried next to him in Paris, Kentucky.[49] Collier and his wife had three daughters, Carolyn, Jane and Kay.[6]

Legacy

Collier was recognized after his death for his sportsmanship, intelligence and mild manners. He was inducted into the University of Kentucky College of Education hall of fame in 2001.[56] In 2007, the Kentucky chapter of the NFL Players Association established a Blanton Collier Award given annually to a football player or players who excel both on and off the field.[57] Past winners include Tony Dungy, Jim Brown, Gale Sayers and the Manning family: Archie, Olivia, Cooper, Peyton and Eli.[57] A group of former Kentucky players in 2008 started the Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group, which promotes ethics, education and integrity in sports.[58] The non-profit organization now oversees the Blanton Collier Award.[57]

The Professional Football Researchers Association named Collier to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2009 [59]

The football stadium at Paris High School is named after Collier.[60]

Head coaching record

College

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Kentucky Wildcats (Southeastern Conference) (1954–1961)
1954 Kentucky 7–3 5–2 T–3rd
1955 Kentucky 6–3–1 3–3–1 T–7th
1956 Kentucky 6–4 4–4 6th
1957 Kentucky 3–7 1–7 12th
1958 Kentucky 5–4–1 3–4–1 T–6th
1959 Kentucky 4–6 1–6 10th
1960 Kentucky 5–4–1 2–4–1 9th
1961 Kentucky 5–5 2–4 8th
Kentucky: 41–36–3 21–34–3
Total: 41–36–3

NFL

Team Year Regular Season Post Season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
CLE 1963 10 4 0 71.4 2nd in Eastern Conference
CLE 1964 10 3 1 76.9 1st in Eastern Conference 1 0 100.0 Beat Baltimore Colts in NFL championship game
CLE 1965 11 3 0 78.6 1st in Eastern Conference 0 1 0.0 Lost to Green Bay Packers in NFL Championship game
CLE 1966 9 5 0 64.3 2nd in Eastern Conference
CLE 1967 9 5 0 64.3 1st in Century Division 0 1 0.0 Lost to Dallas Cowboys in Eastern conference championship game
CLE 1968 10 4 0 71.4 1st in Century Division 1 1 50.0 Beat Dallas Cowboys in Eastern Conference championship game.
Lost to Baltimore Colts in NFL championship game
CLE 1969 10 3 1 76.9 1st in Century Division 1 1 50.0 Beat Dallas Cowboys in Eastern Conference championship game.
Lost to Minnesota Vikings in NFL championship game
CLE 1970 7 7 0 50.0 2nd in AFC Central
CLE Total 76 34 2 69.1 3 4 42.9
Source: Pro-Football-Reference

References

  1. ^ a b "Collier dies, fine coach". Youngstown Vindicator. (Ohio). Associated Press. March 24, 1983. p. 30.
  2. ^ "Blanton Collier dead of cancer". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 29, 1983. p. 18.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h Kelber 1992, p. 214.
  4. ^ a b Pluto 1997, p. 67.
  5. ^ a b c d e f Piascik 2007, p. 17.
  6. ^ a b "Paris To Honor Blanton Collier And Delza Maggard At Big Orange Preview". Paris High School. Archived from the original (PDF) on October 7, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  7. ^ a b c d e f Pluto 1997, p. 68.
  8. ^ a b c Keim 1999, p. 140.
  9. ^ a b Pluto 1997, p. 53.
  10. ^ Piascik 2007, pp. 11–12.
  11. ^ Piascik 2007, pp. 64, 81, 121, 145.
  12. ^ Piascik 2007, pp. 181, 233, 253, 281.
  13. ^ Keim 1999, pp. 140–141.
  14. ^ Keim 1999, p. 141.
  15. ^ a b "History and Tradition". University of Kentucky. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  16. ^ "Mills Sparks Kentucky Past Georgia Tech". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Atlanta. Associated Press. October 24, 1954. p. 14. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  17. ^ "Kentucky Gains 21–14 Win Over Mississippi". Daytona Beach Morning Journal. Lexington, Ky. Associated Press. September 25, 1955. p. 9. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  18. ^ Hudson, Bill (November 24, 1957). "Michaels Sparks Kentucky To 20–6 Victory Over Vols". The News and Courier. Lexington, Ky. Associated Press. p. 3D. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  19. ^ a b c d "Kentucky Gives Collier Gate". The Miami News. Lexington, Ky. Associated Press. January 3, 1962. p. 2C. Retrieved August 31, 2012.
  20. ^ "Kentucky Hires Bryant Aide Bradshaw". Middlesboro Daily News. Lexington, Ky. Associated Press. January 12, 1962. p. 12. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  21. ^ Pluto 1997, p. 66.
  22. ^ a b "People". Sports Illustrated. 40 (5). February 4, 1974. Retrieved November 24, 2012.
  23. ^ Oremland, Brad (February 29, 2008). "The NFL Coaching Tree 2008". Sports Central. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  24. ^ "Collier And Brown Equally Delighted". Toledo Blade. Cleveland. Associated Press. January 16, 1962. p. 17. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  25. ^ a b c d Pluto 1997, p. 54.
  26. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 47–49.
  27. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 50–51.
  28. ^ Pluto 1997, p. 52.
  29. ^ Pluto 1997, p. 48.
  30. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 54–55.
  31. ^ Pluto 1997, p. 55.
  32. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 59, 64.
  33. ^ a b Pluto 1997, p. 65.
  34. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 66–67.
  35. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 73–75.
  36. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 73, 77.
  37. ^ a b Pluto 1997, p. 78.
  38. ^ Pluto 1997, p. 79.
  39. ^ "1964 Cleveland Browns Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on June 17, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  40. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 122–124.
  41. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 131–132.
  42. ^ Pluto 1997, p. 148.
  43. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 150–151.
  44. ^ "1965 Cleveland Browns Statistics & Players". Pro-Football-Reference.com. Archived from the original on June 17, 2012. Retrieved June 15, 2012.
  45. ^ Page 2010, pp. 206–209.
  46. ^ "Collier Laments Mistakes, Praises Victors". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Cleveland. Associated Press. December 30, 1968. p. 18. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  47. ^ "Collier Knew Vikes Had It". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. St. Paul-Minneapolis. Associated Press. January 5, 1970. p. 24. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  48. ^ a b "Browns' Blanton Says He's Retiring This Year". Rochester Sentinel. December 2, 1970.
  49. ^ a b c Pluto 1997, p. 297.
  50. ^ Pluto 1997, pp. 69–70.
  51. ^ Pluto 1997, p. 70.
  52. ^ "Name Nick Skorich New Browns' Coach". Bangor Daily News. Cleveland. Associated Press. January 8, 1971. p. 7. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  53. ^ Keim 1999, p. 144.
  54. ^ "Collier named all-star coach". Star-News. Chicago. United Press International. February 20, 1971. p. 1C. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  55. ^ "Blanton Collier dead of cancer". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. March 29, 1983. p. 18.
  56. ^ "Blanton Long Collier (1906–1983)". University of Kentucky. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  57. ^ a b c "The 2012 NFLPA, Kentucky Chapter Blanton Collier Award". Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group. Archived from the original on October 5, 2011. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  58. ^ "About Us-Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group, Inc". Blanton Collier Sportsmanship Group. Retrieved September 1, 2012.
  59. ^ "Hall of Very Good Class of 2009". Retrieved November 23, 2016.
  60. ^ "Blanton Collier Stadium gets makeover". WKYT. Archived from the original on October 7, 2012. Retrieved September 1, 2012.

Bibliography

  • Cantor, George (2008). Paul Brown: The Man Who Invented Modern Football. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-57243-725-8.
  • Keim, John (1999). Legends by the Lake: The Cleveland Browns at Municipal Stadium. Akron, OH: University of Akron Press. ISBN 978-1-884836-47-3.
  • Kelber, John E. (1992). The Kentucky Encyclopedia. Lexington, KY: The University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 978-0-813-11772-0.
  • Page, Joseph S. (2010). Pro Football Championships Before the Super Bowl: A Year-by-Year History, 1926–1965. Jefferson, NC: McFarland. ISBN 978-0-7864-4809-8.
  • Piascik, Andy (2007). The Best Show in Football: The 1946–1955 Cleveland Browns. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58979-571-6.
  • Pluto, Terry (1997). Browns Town 1964: Cleveland Browns and the 1964 Championship. Cleveland: Gray & Company. ISBN 978-1-886228-72-6.

External links

1955 Kentucky Wildcats football team

The 1955 Kentucky Wildcats football team represented the University of Kentucky in the 1955 college football season.

1956 Kentucky Wildcats football team

The 1956 Kentucky Wildcats football team represented the University of Kentucky in the 1956 NCAA University Division football season.

1960 Kentucky Wildcats football team

The 1960 Kentucky Wildcats football team represented the University of Kentucky in the 1960 NCAA University Division football season.

1961 Kentucky Wildcats football team

The 1961 Kentucky Wildcats football team represented the University of Kentucky in the 1961 NCAA University Division football season.

1963 Cleveland Browns season

The 1963 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 14th season with the National Football League.

Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown led the league in rushing for the 6th time in seven seasons. As a team, the 1963 Browns gained an NFL-record 5.74 yards per carry.

1965 Pro Bowl

The 1965 Pro Bowl was the NFL's fifteenth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1964 season. The game was played on January 10, 1965, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in front of 60,698. The coaches for the game were Don Shula of Baltimore Colts for the West and Blanton Collier of Cleveland Browns for the East. The West team won by a final score was 34–14.The West dominated the East, 411 to 187 in total yards. West quarterback Fran Tarkenton of the Minnesota Vikings was named "Back of the Game" after he completed 8 of 13 passes for 172 yards. At one point during the game, the West backfield was all-Vikings: Tarkenton (No. 10), Tommy Mason (No. 20), and Bill Brown (No. 30).

"Lineman of the Game" honors went to the West’s Terry Barr of the Detroit Lions; Barr had 106 yards receiving on three receptions.Frank Ryan, the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns' who had defeated the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship Game, was knocked out of the Pro Bowl when he was sacked in the third quarter by a group of defenders including the Colts' Gino Marchetti. Some thought that Marchetti, who was playing in his tenth Pro Bowl, was trying to teach Ryan a lesson for considering running up the score against the Colts in the championship game. Marchetti denied this, and he and Ryan remained on good terms.

1966 Pro Bowl

The 1966 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's sixteenth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1965 season. The game was played on January 16, 1966, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles in front of a crowd of 60,124.The coach of the Eastern Conference, Blanton Collier of the Cleveland Browns, used the domination of the West that year as a rallying cry for the Eastern team as they prepared to take the field against the Western Conference stars coached by Vince Lombardi of the Green Bay Packers. During the 1965 season, the Western Conference had dominated the Eastern Conference — Western teams had won the league championship as well as 13 of the 14 regular season inter-conference games. This apparent domination extended to the college ranks as well with the West team winning the East-West college all-star game and the Rose Bowl.At the same time, Lombardi felt his West squad was at an unfair disadvantage in the game due to a denial by the league of a last minute appeal to use his own team's quarterback, Bart Starr, in the game. Starr had previously been scratched due to injury, but had recovered sufficiently to play.Dale Meinert of the St. Louis Cardinals was named the "lineman of the game" while the Cleveland Browns' fullback Jim Brown was awarded "back of the game" honors for the third time in his career. Brown carried 21 times for 65 yards. One story line of the game, the anticipated showdown between Brown and rookie Gale Sayers of the Bears, never materialized when Lombardi surprisingly called only a single play for Sayers, a handoff which Sayers took for 15 yards.

1967 Cleveland Browns season

The 1967 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 18th season with the National Football League.

The Browns were back in the playoffs after a one-year absence. They finished 9–5, the same as in 1966, but this time, it was good enough for them to get in as they won the Century Division championship in the first year of play after the NFL split the Eastern and Western conferences into two divisions each. The division race was not close, as the Browns finished two games ahead of the runner-up New York Giants (7–7), their old arch rival in the 1950s and early 1960s.

Running Back Leroy Kelly went over 1,000 yards rushing for the second straight time, getting 1,205 to go along with 11 touchdowns, while Ernie Green, now out of the shadow of Jim Brown, went over 700 yards for the second year in a row, getting 710. Quarterback Frank Ryan, the architect of the 27–0 1964 NFL title game victory over the Baltimore Colts, was in his last full season as a starter. He had 20 TD passes and 16 interceptions. But Ryan, with his body, especially his shoulder, beat up, gave way to Bill Nelsen early the next year.

The 52–14 playoff loss to Dallas in the Eastern Conference title contest caused Browns head coach Blanton Collier to re-shape his team at other positions as well, as new players were brought in to replace some of the fading stars who had carried the club for years. For instance, this was the last season for Hall of Fame place-kicker Lou Groza, who retired for the second time – this time for good – after making 11 of 23 field-goal tries. Groza, the last member of the original Browns from the team's inception in 1946, would retire after 21 seasons, followed the next season by another Hall of Fame kicker, Don Cockroft.

1968 Cleveland Browns season

The 1968 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 19th season with the National Football League.

The Browns made it to the playoffs for the 2nd straight year thanks to an 8-game winning streak and the brilliant play of quarterback Bill Nelsen who replaced Frank Ryan as the starting quarterback prior to week 4 of their season.

1969 Cleveland Browns season

The 1969 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 20th season with the National Football League and the last before the 1970 AFL-NFL Merger.

The Browns made it to the 1969 NFL Championship Game, where they fell to the Minnesota Vikings. The 1969 season would be the last year that Cleveland would win a postseason game until 1986. In addition, that victory over Dallas would also be the last time the Browns won a postseason game on the road as of 2017.

1969 NFL Championship Game

The 1969 NFL Championship Game was the 37th and final championship game prior to the AFL–NFL merger, played January 4, 1970, at Metropolitan Stadium in Bloomington, Minnesota, a suburb south of Minneapolis. The winner of the game earned a berth in Super Bowl IV in New Orleans against the champion of the American Football League.The Minnesota Vikings of the Western Conference hosted the Cleveland Browns of the Eastern Conference. It was the Vikings' first appearance in the title game, while the Browns were making their second straight appearance and fourth of the 1960s.

Minnesota had a regular season record of 12–2, including a 51–3 defeat of the Browns eight weeks earlier on November 9. The Vikings defeated the Los Angeles Rams 23–20 in the Western Conference championship a week earlier at Met Stadium. They were coached by Bud Grant and led on offense by quarterback Joe Kapp and wide receiver Gene Washington. The defense allowed only 133 points (9½ per game) during the regular season and their four defensive linemen were known as the "Purple People Eaters."

Cleveland was 10–3–1 during the regular season and had upset the Dallas Cowboys 38–14 at the Cotton Bowl for the Eastern Conference title. The Browns were coached by Blanton Collier; Bill Nelsen was the starting quarterback and Gary Collins and Paul Warfield were star wide receivers for the team.

Although not as severe as the "Ice Bowl" of 1967, the weather conditions were bitterly cold at 8 °F (−13 °C), with a sub-zero wind chill factor. Cleveland linebacker Jim Houston suffered frostbite during the game and was hospitalized.

Minnesota was favored by nine points to win the title game at home, and they won, 27–7.Of the four NFL teams that joined the league during the AFL era (1960s), Minnesota was the sole winner of a pre-merger NFL championship. The Dallas Cowboys entered the league in 1960 and lost two NFL title games to the Green Bay Packers, in 1966 and 1967. The expansion Atlanta Falcons (1966) and New Orleans Saints (1967) did not qualify for the postseason until 1978 and 1987, respectively.

The Vikings would go on to lose Super Bowl IV 23-7 to the AFL champion Kansas City Chiefs. Starting with the 1970 season, the NFL champion was determined in the Super Bowl, beginning with Super Bowl V.

1970 Cleveland Browns season

The 1970 Cleveland Browns season was the team's 21st season with the National Football League. The Browns attempted to improve on its 10-3-1 record from 1969. The team would fail to do so, and they finished with an even 7-7 record and missed the postseason. This was the first season that the Browns would play the Cincinnati Bengals, their new arch-rival in the AFC Central. The 2 teams split their 2 meetings in the first season series.

Dan Haley

Dan Johnson Haley (September 15, 1940 – October 19, 2013) was an American football player and coach. Haley played college football at the University of Kentucky under coach Blanton Collier. He served as the head football coach at the University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky from 1996 to 2000. He later served as an assistant at Western Kentucky University under Jack Harbaugh.

Ed Ulinski

Edward Franklin Ulinski (December 7, 1919 – September 17, 2006) was a professional American football guard who played four seasons for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and went on to a career as an assistant coach for the Browns that lasted more than three decades.

Ulinski grew up in Pennsylvania and attended Marshall University in West Virginia, where he starred as a blocker and end. He then served for four years in the U.S. Air Force during World War II, playing for military football teams in 1944 and 1945. He signed with the Browns in 1946 and played as a guard as the team won four straight AAFC championships. He retired after the 1949 season to begin a coaching career, working first at Santa Clara University for three years before taking an assistant coaching job at Purdue University.

Paul Brown, the head coach of the Browns, hired Ulinski in 1954 to work with the team's linemen. Ulinski changed to the Browns' linebackers coach in 1963 after Brown was fired and Blanton Collier replaced him. He later served as an administrative coaching aide and the Browns' film coordinator before retiring in 1984. The Browns won three National Football League championships during Ulinski's coaching career, in 1954, 1955 and 1964. He was inducted into Marshall's athletics hall of fame in 1986. Ulinski died in 2006 after a bout with Alzheimer's disease.

Ermal Allen

Ermal Glenn Allen (December 25, 1918 – February 9, 1988) was an American football quarterback and assistant coach. He grew up in Tennessee and attended the University of Kentucky, where he played basketball, track, golf, and football. After four years in the U.S. Army during World War II, Allen was drafted in 1947 by the Chicago Cardinals of the National Football League (NFL). He instead went to play for the Cleveland Browns of the competing All-America Football Conference, who won the league championship that year.

Allen played in Cleveland for one season, returning to the University of Kentucky in 1948 to serve as an assistant football coach under Bear Bryant. He stayed at Kentucky after Blanton Collier took over as head coach in 1954, working as the team's defensive coordinator. In 1962, Tom Landry hired him as a backfield coach on the NFL's Dallas Cowboys. He became the head of the Cowboys' research and development department in 1970 and was charged with scouting opponents. The Cowboys won Super Bowl VI in 1972. Allen remained with the team until retiring in 1983. He died of cancer in 1998 in a Dallas hospital.

Kentucky Wildcats football

The Kentucky Wildcats football program represents the University of Kentucky in the sport of American football. The Wildcats compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and the Eastern Division of the Southeastern Conference (SEC). The Wildcats play their home games at Kroger Field in Lexington, Kentucky and are currently led by head coach Mark Stoops.

Larry Benz

Larry Walker Benz (born January 28, 1941) is a former professional American football safety in the National Football League. He played three seasons for the Cleveland Browns.

List of Cleveland Browns head coaches

The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football franchise based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are a member of the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team began playing in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), and joined the NFL as part of the AAFC–NFL merger in 1950. The team played their home games at Cleveland Stadium from 1946 to 1995 before moving to FirstEnergy Stadium, where they have played since 1999. The Browns did not play from 1996 to 1998 when the team's owner, Art Modell, moved the team to Baltimore, Maryland and formed the Baltimore Ravens. The team was re-activated under new ownership in Cleveland in 1999. The team is currently owned by Jimmy Haslam III, and Joe Banner is their Chief Executive Officer. Tom Heckert was their general manager until the end of the 2012 season, when he was fired along with the team's incumbent head coach Pat Shurmur.There have been 17 non-interim head coaches for the Browns franchise. Their first head coach was Paul Brown, who coached for 17 complete seasons. Brown is also the franchise's all-time leader for the most regular season games coached (214), the most regular season game wins (158), the most playoffs games coached (14), and the most playoff game wins (9). Brown is the only Browns head coach to win an AAFC championship with four, the NFL championship with three, the Sporting News NFL Coach of the Year three times, the United Press International (UPI) NFL Coach of the Year once, and to have been elected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a coach. Blanton Collier, Dick Modzelewski, Sam Rutigliano, Bud Carson, Jim Shofner, Chris Palmer, Butch Davis, and Rob Chudzinski have spent their entire NFL head coaching careers with the Browns. Eric Mangini had been the head coach of the Browns since the firing of Romeo Crennel, but was himself fired on January 3, 2011. Shurmur replaced Mangini as head coach, but was fired after posting a 9–23 record over two seasons in charge. On January 11, 2013, the Cleveland Browns officially named Rob Chudzinski as the replacement for Pat Shurmur. Chudzinski compiled a 4–12 record during the 2013 season, but he was fired on December 29. On January 23, 2014, the Browns hired Mike Pettine as their head coach. Pettine was fired on January 3, 2016, hours after the Browns lost their 2015 season finale. On January 13, 2016, Hue Jackson was named the Browns' new head coach. He was then fired on October 29, 2018 after only 3 wins in 40 games. He was replaced by defensive coordinator Gregg Williams on an interim basis. On January 9, 2019, Freddie Kitchens was promoted from interim offensive coordinator to head coach.

Nick Skorich

Nicholas Leonard Skorich (June 26, 1921 – October 2, 2004) was an American football player and coach.

Skorich played guard at Bellaire High School and the University of Cincinnati before joining the United States Navy in 1943. After the end of World War II, he signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers, who had taken him in the 1943 NFL Draft. He played three years for the Steelers.

Skorich then went into coaching, first at the high school level, then as an assistant with the Steelers from 1954 to 1957. After one year with the Green Bay Packers, he moved to the Philadelphia Eagles, who promoted him to head coach after Buck Shaw retired following the Eagles' 1960 championship season.

The Eagles remained competitive in 1961, winning 10 of 14 games, but fell to 3–10–1 in 1962 and 2–10–2 in 1963. Fired from the Eagles, Skorich took a job as a defensive assistant under Cleveland Browns coach Blanton Collier in 1964. The Browns promoted him to offensive coordinator four years later and head coach upon Collier's retirement after the 1970 season.

In 1970, the Browns had gone 7–7 in only their second non-winning season since beginning play in 1946. Under Skorich, the Browns went 9–5 in 1971, winning the AFC Central Division before losing to the Baltimore Colts in the divisional playoffs. The following year, the Browns earned a wild card spot with a 10–4 record. In the playoffs, they came as close as anyone else that season did to beating the Miami Dolphins in that team's perfect season, losing 20–14 on a late Jim Kiick touchdown.

But by then Browns greats like Leroy Kelly, Gary Collins and Gene Hickerson had retired or were winding down their careers, and quarterback Mike Phipps was proving to be a disappointment. Cleveland dropped to 7–5–2 in 1973 and, in its first last-place finish ever, 4–10 in 1974. The Browns replaced Skorich with former Green Bay Packers star Forrest Gregg. Several players drafted under Skorich, including Brian Sipe, Doug Dieken and Greg Pruitt would play well for Gregg and his successor, Sam Rutigliano.

After leaving Cleveland, Skorich served as supervisor of officials for the National Football League. He is credited with developing mechanics for umpires, the most demanding position on an officiating crew since the umpire is positioned behind the defensive line and is often caught in the middle of heavy traffic during play. The mechanics for umpires was changed by the NFL for the 2010 season, moving the umpire behind the quarterback, parallel to the referee, except for the last two minutes of each half.

He died in 2004, after complications from heart surgery. In his memory his family started the Nicholas L. Skorich scholarship fund, which, holds a yearly golf outing.

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