Len Ford

Leonard Guy Ford Jr. (February 18, 1926 – March 14, 1972) was an American football player from 1944 to 1958. He played college football for the University of Michigan and professional football for the Los Angeles Dons, Cleveland Browns and Green Bay Packers. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976 and the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1996.

Ford was an all-city athlete at his high school in Washington, D.C., and attended Morgan State University after graduating in 1944. After a brief stint in the U.S. Navy the following year, he transferred to Michigan, where he played on the Michigan Wolverines football team as an offensive and defensive end. He played for Michigan from 1945 to 1947 and was a member of the undefeated 1947 team that has been selected as the best team in the history of Michigan football.

Ford was passed over in all 32 rounds of the 1948 NFL Draft, but was selected by the Los Angeles Dons of the rival All-America Football Conference (AAFC), where he played for two seasons as an offensive and defensive end. After the AAFC dissolved in 1949, Ford played eight seasons as a defensive end for the Cleveland Browns. During those eight seasons, the Browns advanced to the NFL championship game seven times, won three championships, and allowed the fewest points in the NFL six times. Ford was one of the dominant defensive players of his era, having a rare combination of size and speed that helped him disrupt opposing offenses and force fumbles. He was selected as a first-team All-NFL player five times and played in four Pro Bowls.

Ford was traded to the Packers in 1958, but played there just one season before retiring. He worked for the Detroit recreation department from 1963 to 1972. He suffered a heart attack and died in 1972 at age 46.

Len Ford
A portrait of Ford from the 1948 Michigan yearbook
Ford from the 1948 Michiganensian
No. 50, 53, 80, 83
Position:Defensive end
Personal information
Born:February 18, 1926
Washington, D.C.
Died:March 14, 1972 (aged 46)
Detroit, Michigan
Height:6 ft 5 in (1.96 m)
Weight:245 lb (111 kg)
Career information
High school:Washington (DC) Armstrong
College:Michigan
Undrafted:1948
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Games played:125
Interceptions:3
Fumbles recovered:20
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Early years

Ford was born in Washington, D.C., in 1926. His father, Leonard G. Ford, Sr., was a Virginia native who was employed as a "skilled laborer" by the federal government in 1920 and as a printing operator at the Government Printing Office in 1940. His mother, Jeraldine, was also a Virginia native who worked as a social worker in a settlement house in 1940. Ford had an older sister, Anita, and a younger brother, Claude.[1][2]

As a teenager, Ford attended Armstrong Technical High School, where he played football, basketball and baseball.[3] As a high school athlete, he aspired to play fullback in football, but he later recalled, "I started to grow, and I grew right out of the backfield."[4] He was chosen by local sportswriters as an all-city athlete in all three sports in his senior year, and he served as captain of all three teams for one season each.[3][5]

After he graduated in 1944, Theodore McIntyre, Ford's high school football coach, suggested he attend Morgan State University, a historically black college in Baltimore, Maryland.[6][7] Ford played for the Morgan State Bears football team for one year under head coach Edward P. Hurt, while also starring as the center on the school's basketball team.[7] The basketball team won its league's championship in 1944.[7] Ford left Morgan State and joined the U.S. Navy in 1945, but stayed in the service only briefly as World War II came to an end.[3][7][8][9]

University of Michigan

Len Ford and Bob Mann (1947)
Ford (at left) and Bob Mann of Omega Psi Phi both went on to play in the NFL.

After the war, Ford transferred to the University of Michigan to play football in a bigger program than Morgan State's.[7] He wanted to "get a shot at playing in the Rose Bowl one day", he later said.[3] While attending Michigan, he was a member of Omega Psi Phi, an all-black fraternity whose membership also included Bob Mann, another Michigan end who went on to play in the NFL.[10]

1945 and 1946 seasons

In 1945, Ford was Michigan's tallest player at 6 feet 5 inches (196 cm) and 190 pounds.[11] Ford played as a backup at the left end for the 1945 Michigan football team that compiled a 7–3 win–loss record under head coach Fritz Crisler.[12] When Ford caught a pass from Wally Teninga in Michigan's 26-0 victory over Minnesota in early November 1945, The New York Times took note and referred to Ford as "a six-foot, five-inch giant."[13]

As a junior in 1946, Ford had gained 16 pounds and weighed 206 pounds.[14] That year, he shared the left end position with his fraternity brother Bob Mann, with Ford starting four games and Mann two.[15] With Ford and Mann at the end position, the 1946 Michigan team finished with a 6–2–1 record.[15] During the 1946 season, Ford established himself as a tenacious tackler on defense and was also a receiving threat as an end on offense.[7] In the first game of the 1946 season, a 21-0 victory over Indiana, Ford recovered an Indiana fumble and then scored the game's second touchdown on a 17-yard pass from Pete Elliott.[16] Later in the season, he scored a touchdown against Wisconsin on an end-around, a play Michigan employed frequently with Ford.[17]

1947 season

By 1947, Ford had grown to 215 pounds, 25 pounds heavier than he had weighed in 1945.[18] Led by All-American halfbacks Bob Chappuis and Bump Elliott, the undefeated 1947 Michigan team has been selected as the best team in the history of Michigan football.[15][19] Nicknamed the "Mad Magicians", the Michigan squad finished with a 10–0 record, capped by a 49–0 victory in the Rose Bowl over USC on New Year's Day.[15] Ford started only one game in 1947, as Bob Mann was the starting left end in eight of Michigan's 10 games.[15] Even with reduced playing time, Ford caught a 35-yard touchdown pass in the first game of the season and had two receptions for 82 yards in the 55–0 win over Michigan State.[20] He scored again in a game against Pitt.[20][21] Ford's defensive performance was credited with shutting down Ohio State in the final game of the 1947 season. After the Wolverines' 21-0 victory over the Buckeyes, The Michigan Daily wrote:

Lenny Ford Tells the Home Folks About California
Ford speaks to fans in Michigan after victory in 1948 Rose Bowl

For the defense it was big Len Ford, who sparked a forward wall that never let the Bucks threaten. His end was practically impregnable. He smashed Ohio interference time and again, he continually harassed Dick Slager and Pandel Savic, the Ohio passers, and he made life miserable for Pete Perini, blocking one punt and rushing the Buckeye punter on nearly all of his kicks.[22]

Michigan finished first in the AP Poll and won the 1947 college football national championship, sharing the honor with Notre Dame, which had been first in the polls before the Rose Bowl.[23] After the 1947 season, the Associated Press (AP) selected Ford as a third-team All-American end and named teammate Bob Mann as a second-team All-American end.[24] The AP also named Ford a second-team all-Big Nine Conference end.[25] In the summer of 1948, he accepted an invitation to play for the college team in the College All-Star Game, a now-defunct annual matchup between the champion of the professional National Football League (NFL) and a selection of the country's best college players.[26]

Professional career

Los Angeles Dons (AAFC)

Despite his accomplishments in college, Ford was passed over in all 32 rounds of the 1948 NFL Draft during a time when most professional teams did not employ African-Americans.[7] (The following year, George Taliaferro became the first African-American to be selected in an NFL draft.[27]) He was selected, however, by the Los Angeles Dons of the rival All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in the third round of its 1948 draft.[7][28] He signed with the Dons in April 1948.[29]

Playing as a right end opposite Joe Aguirre, Ford had 31 catches for 598 yards and seven touchdowns in 1948.[30] As was the case at Michigan, Ford also worked on defense and was one of the AAFC's most successful pass-rushers.[7][31] The Dons, meanwhile, finished the regular season with a 7–7 record, good for third place in the AAFC West.[32] Ford played basketball in the off-season for the New York Renaissance, an all-black professional team in the National Basketball League.[33][34] He did not play basketball at Michigan, the Big Ten Conference having maintained racial segregation of basketball until 1950.[34]

Ford had 36 catches for 577 yards and one touchdown in 1949, while the Dons fell to 4–8.[30][35] The AAFC struggled financially during Ford's time with the Dons.[36] Its teams competed with NFL franchises for fans' attention and player talent – the Dons shared a city with the NFL's Los Angeles Rams.[7] By late 1949, team owners came to an agreement under which the Cleveland Browns, San Francisco 49ers and Baltimore Colts joined the NFL and the rest of the league's teams, including the Dons, folded.[7][37]

Cleveland Browns

Len Ford, American football defensive end, on a 1955 football card
Ford pictured on a 1955 football card, while with the Browns

1950 season

After the AAFC disbanded, the Browns selected Ford in the second round of the 1950 AAFC dispersal draft, created to reallocate former Dons, Buffalo Bills and Chicago Hornets players.[38] Ford signed with the Browns in July 1950.[39]

Cleveland head coach Paul Brown converted Ford into solely a defensive end as two-platoon systems gained popularity after 1950.[31] Ford bulked up to 260 pounds and quickly became a fixture of Cleveland's defense alongside linebacker Bill Willis and defensive back Warren Lahr.[40] He was one of five black players for Cleveland – the others were Willis, punter Horace Gillom and fullbacks Emerson Cole and Marion Motley – at a time when many other teams had never signed a black player.[41] The Browns, in fact, had roughly a third of the black players in the NFL on their roster.[41] Cleveland sports writer Chuck Heaton later recalled that Ford was "a leader, particularly with the black players on the squad."[42]

Led by an offense that featured Motley, quarterback Otto Graham and ends Mac Speedie and Dante Lavelli, the 1950 Browns finished the regular season with a 10–2 record and won the 1950 NFL Championship Game over the Los Angeles Rams.[43][44]

In a mid-October game against the Chicago Cardinals, an elbow by Pat Harder broke Ford's nose, cheekbone, and maxilla (upper jaw), knocked out two teeth, loosened several teeth and chipped another.[45] Ford, who had been fighting with Harder throughout the game, punched him following the play, resulting in a penalty, his ejection from the game and a $50 ($521 in 2018 dollars[46]) fine.[7] NFL commissioner Bert Bell withdrew the fine when the damage to Ford's face was revealed.[7] Ford's facial injuries were so severe that a plastic surgery was required, "virtually rebuilding the big end's face."[45] The Browns' long-time team doctor, Vic Ippolito, described Ford's injuries as "a sickening sight."[47]

Because of the injury, Ford started only four regular season games in 1950. However, he asked to be reinstated for the 1950 NFL Championship Game. Head coach Paul Brown agreed to allow Ford to suit up after receiving approval from the team doctor and arranging for a special mask to be built to protect Ford from further injury. Ford had been on a liquid diet until late November and dropped from 240 to 215 pound, though he was back up to 223 pounds shortly before the championship game.[48] As the championship game got underway, Ford sat on the bench as the Rams moved the ball 82 yards down the field for a touchdown. Browns head coach Paul Brown knew the defense had to tighten, and he called on Ford to enter the game. The Cleveland Plain Dealer later called this "one of Len Ford's great moments."[49] Paul Brown stated that Ford "showed me that day he really was a man."[42] Brown later recalled that Ford was the team's "only real hope of plugging a hole" and recalled one sequence as a defining moment in the game:

I'll always remember one three-play sequence where he threw Vitamin Smith for a 14-yard loss on a reverse, sacked [Bob] Waterfield for another big loss and finally smothered Glenn Davis on an end run. That turned the game around for us.[49]

The Browns' defense held the Rams scoreless in the fourth quarter, and the Browns won the championship game by a 30-28 score in their first season in the league.[49]

1951 season

Ford continued to excel as a pass-rusher in 1951, when the Browns again advanced to the NFL Championship Game but lost to the Rams.[50] He recovered four fumbles during the season and was named a first-team All-Pro by both the Associated Press (AP) and the United Press International (UPI).[30] He was also named to the Pro Bowl, the NFL's all-star game.[30] Ford's dominating play allowed Brown to assign him to two offensive linemen, giving Cleveland the latitude to put four men on the line and use three linebackers in what is now known as the 4–3 defense.[7] Cleveland's defensive coach Blanton Collier later recalled the thinking behind moving Ford: "We knew we had to get him in closer where his talents as a pass rusher could best be utilized. So we moved both tackles in and dropped the linebackers off the outside. It may have been the beginning of today's 4–3 defense."[51] Collier also noted that "Len was very aggressive and had that touch of meanness in him that you find in most defensive players."[7]

1952 season

The 1952 Browns had eight regular-season wins and won the NFL's East Division, but lost to the Detroit Lions in the 1952 NFL Championship Game.[7] Ford, meanwhile, extended his run of dominance against opposing offenses in an era before the quarterback sack was a recorded statistic.[7] For the second consecutive year, he was named a first-team All-Pro by both the AP and UPI and was selected for the Pro Bowl.[30]

1953 season

The 1953 Browns compiled an 11-1 record and again advanced to the NFL Championship Game, losing to the Detroit Lions.[52] For the third consecutive year, Ford was named a first-team All-Pro by both the AP and UPI and was selected for the Pro Bowl.[30]

1954 season

Willis and Motley retired after the 1953 season, but Ford and Don Colo continued to anchor the defense alongside Lahr in the secondary.[7] The 1954 Browns lost two of their first three games, but finished the season with a 9–3 record and returned to win the 1954 NFL Championship Game over the Lions.[53] Ford had two interceptions in the Browns' 56–10 win over the Lions, including one which he returned 45 yards to set a new NFL playoff record.[7][54][55] Ford recovered a career-high five fumbles in 1954, and he was selected as a first-team All-Pro by the AP and UPI for the fourth year in a row. He was also selected to play in his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl.[30]

1955 season

The 1955 Browns compiled a 9–2–1 record in 1955 and won the 1955 NFL Championship Game against the Los Angeles Rams, helped by a strong defensive effort and six interceptions of quarterback Norm Van Brocklin.[7][56] Ford was selected as a first-team All-Pro by the UPI, the Newspaper Enterprise Association (NEA) and the New York Daily News. He was named a second-team All-Pro by the AP.[30]

1956 and 1957 seasons

Graham and many of the players that had helped propel the Browns to a series of championship game appearances retired before the 1956 season.[7] The 1956 team finished 5–7 that year,[57] its first-ever losing record.[58]

By 1957, there was speculation that Ford, then age 31, might not make the Browns' roster.[59] Ford arrived at training camp well above his playing weight, and rookie Bob Mischak was given Ford's spot in August. When Mischak withdrew from the team, the spot was awarded to another rookie, Paul Wiggin. Ford worked to shed pounds during training camp and worked to train the young defensive players, including Wiggin and Bill Quinlan.[59] Rookie running back Jim Brown recalled that Ford pulled him aside during the 1957 training camp and gave him advice on dealing with the Browns' head coach Paul Brown. Ford advised the rookie to keep his mouth shut and do as the coach set during practice and waiting until game day: "Run it your way in the game and hope it works, and if it does, don't say anything. Just make your yardage and act like it was a mistake."[60]

Brown was slowed for several weeks during the 1957 season by a severely bruised shoulder,[61] but the Browns, led by Jim Brown, reached the 1957 NFL Championship Game, losing to the Lions.[7] Cleveland's defense allowed the fewest points in the NFL in six of Ford's eight seasons with the team.[62]

Green Bay Packers

In May 1958, the Browns traded Ford to the Green Bay Packers in exchange for a draft choice. Green Bay coach Ray McLean said at the time that he acquired Ford for his talent at putting pressure on the quarterback and noted that "he's one of the toughest guys in the league to block because of his speed, size and agility."[63][64] The 1958 Green Bay team won just one game in Ford's lone season there.[65] Ford suffered multiple broken fingers before the last game of the 1958 season, and, because he was unable to play, the Packers refused to pay Ford the final $916.66 due on his contract. In 1961, Ford sued the Packers in Wayne County Circuit Court in Detroit to collect the $916.66 plus $10,000 for alleged damage to his reputation caused by the Packers' releasing him.[66][67]

Career statistics and legacy

Ford had 20 career fumble recoveries at the time of his retirement. Ford was successful in part because of his combination of quickness and size.[68] Few players of his era who were as tall and big as he was could move as fast; only Larry Brink of the Rams was close to him in proportions.[68]

Family and later years

In 1951, Ford married Geraldine Bledsoe Ford (1926–2003),[69] who was a lawyer in the 1950s,[70] and in the mid-1960s became the first African-American woman to serve as a judge in Michigan.[71] They had two daughters, Anita and Deborah,[72] and divorced in 1959.[69]

While playing in the NFL, Ford worked during the off-season in a Detroit real estate office. He developed a reputation for being "cagey with the dollar" and told Jet magazine in 1955: "In what other sport can a boy just graduated from college make $5,000 in his first six months, then have a half-year left to make more money?"[70] After retiring from football, Ford attended the Detroit College of Law for a year-and-a-half,[72] but never received a law degree.[42] From 1963 until at least December 1970, Ford worked as the assistant director at Considine Recreation Center, the largest recreation center in Detroit.[7][69] At the time of his death 16 months later, he was described in obituaries as the assistant recreation director for the City of Detroit.[5][73][74]

Sports writer Chuck Heaton wrote that Ford's life was "pretty much down hill" after he retired from professional football. Heaton recalled that, in his later years, Ford seemed in poor physical condition, "only a shadow of the mighty end he once was."[42] Ford still aspired to obtain his law license, but, according to Heaton, "appeared to have lost the drive which made him such a great football player."[42] Don Newcombe, who became good friends with Ford, was more blunt. Interviewed in 1980, Newcombe said that Ford's life was "decimated" because of alcohol. Newcombe added: "He became a wino, stumbling around in alleys. He gave up his life for alcohol."[75]

Ford suffered a heart attack in early March 1972 and died the following week in a Detroit hospital.[42] He was age 46 at the time of his death.[5][76] He was posthumously inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976 and into the University of Michigan Athletic Hall of Honor in 1996.[62][77]

References

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Bibliography

  • Piascik, Andy (2007). The Best Show in Football: The 1946–1955 Cleveland Browns. Lanham, MD: Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58979-571-6.

External links

1945 Michigan Wolverines football team

The 1945 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1945 Big Ten Conference football season. In their eighth year under head coach was Fritz Crisler, the Wolverines compiled a 7–3 record (5–1 Big Ten) and finished the season ranked #6 in the final Associated Press Poll. Quarterback Joe Ponsetto was the team captain, and center Harold Watts won the Most Valuable Player award and was selected as a first-team All-Big Ten Conference player.Michigan's three losses during the 1945 season came against teams ranked in the top four in the final AP Poll: #1 Army (28–7 loss at Yankee Stadium), #3 Navy (33–7 loss at Baltimore Stadium), and #4 Indiana (13–7 loss at Michigan Stadium). The Wolverines also defeated three ranked opponents in Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio State. In their seven victories, the team registered three shutouts and outscored the teams 166 to 25, including margins of 40–0 and 26–0 in rivalry games against Michigan State and Minnesota.

1946 Michigan Wolverines football team

The 1946 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1946 Big Nine Conference football season. In their ninth year under head coach was Fritz Crisler, the Wolverines compiled a 6-2-1 record (5-1-1 Big Ten), outscored opponents 233 to 73, and finished the season in second place in the Big Nine Conference and ranked #6 in the final 1946 AP poll. The team's two losses came against an undefeated Army team that was ranked #2 in the final AP poll and against an Illinois team that won the Big Nine championship and was ranked #5 in the final AP poll. Michigan won its last four games by a combined score of 162 to 19, starting a 25-game winning streak that continued for nearly three years until October 8, 1949. In the final game of the 1946 season, Michigan defeated Ohio State 58-6, the Buckeyes' worst defeat since joining the conference in 1913.

Halfback Bob Chappuis passed for 735 yards, the most since Benny Friedman set the school record with 760 passing yards in 1925. Chappuis also rushed for 548 yards, received second-team All-American and first-team All-Big Nine honors, and was selected as Michigan's Most Valuable Player for the 1946 season.

The only Michigan player to receive first-team All-American honors in 1946 was end Elmer Madar. Center Jim Brieske was the team's leading scorer with 32 points having kicked 29 points after touchdown and one field goal. Bob Mann led the team in touchdowns with five. End Art Renner was the team captain.

1947 All-Big Nine Conference football team

The 1947 All-Big Nine Conference football team consists of American football players selected to the All-Big Nine Conference teams selected by the Associated Press (AP), United Press (UP) and the International News Service (INS) for the 1947 Big Nine Conference football season. The top vote getters in the AP voting by conference coaches were Leo Nomellini, Bob Chappuis, and Bump Elliott, each receiving 16 of 18 possible points.

1947 Michigan Wolverines football team

The 1947 Michigan Wolverines football team represented the University of Michigan in the 1947 Big Nine Conference football season. In its tenth year under head coach Fritz Crisler, Michigan compiled a perfect 10–0 record, won the Big Ten Conference championship, and defeated the USC Trojans by a score of 49–0 in the 1948 Rose Bowl game. Although ranked second in the AP Poll at the end of the regular season, the Wolverines were selected as the nation's No. 1 team by a 226–119 margin over Notre Dame in an unprecedented (and unofficial) AP Poll taken after the bowl games. The 1947 team outscored its opponents, 394–53, and has been selected as the best team in the history of Michigan football.The 1947 Michigan Wolverines included five players who have been inducted into the College or Pro Football Halls of Fame: left halfback Bob Chappuis (who finished second in the 1947 Heisman Trophy voting), right halfback Bump Elliott (who received the Chicago Tribune trophy as the Big Ten MVP), defensive quarterback Pete Elliott, defensive end Len Ford, and tackle Al Wistert. Offensive tackle Bruce Hilkene was the team captain, and quarterback Howard Yerges was the field general who became known as "Crisler's 'second brain.'" Jack Weisenburger was the "spinning fullback" and the 1947 Big Ten rushing leader.

The 1947 Wolverines were the first team fully to embrace the concept of defensive and offensive specialization. Previously, most players had played their positions on both offense and defense. In 1947, Fritz Crisler established separate offensive and defensive squads. Only Bump Elliott and Jack Weisenberger played on both squads. In November 1947, Time magazine ran a feature article about the 1947 Wolverines focusing on the new era of specialization marked by Crisler's decision to field separate offensive and defensive units. The Time article noted: "Michigan's sleight-of-hand repertory is a baffling assortment of double reverses, buck-reverse laterals, crisscrosses, quick-hits and spins from seven different formations. Sometimes, watching from the side lines, even Coach Crisler isn't sure which Michigan man has the ball. Michigan plays one team on offense, one on defense...Whenever Michigan's defensive team regains the ball, Crisler orders: 'Offense unit, up and out,' and nine men pour onto the field at once." Crisler's single-wing formation in action was "so dazzling in its deception" that the media nicknamed the 1947 team the "Mad Magicians".

1950 Cleveland Browns season

The 1950 Cleveland Browns season was the team's first in the National Football League (NFL) after playing the previous four years in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), which folded after the 1949 season. The Browns finished the regular season with a 10–2 win–loss record and beat the Los Angeles Rams to win the NFL championship. It was Cleveland's fifth consecutive championship victory, the previous four having come in the AAFC.

Cleveland added 12 new players to its roster before the season began, several of whom came from other AAFC teams that had dissolved as part of a selective merger of the Browns, the Baltimore Colts and the San Francisco 49ers into the NFL in 1949. They included guard Abe Gibron, who went on to a 10-year football career, and Len Ford, a defensive end who had a Hall of Fame career with the Browns. The team's top draft choice was halfback Ken Carpenter.

After winning all five of their preseason games, the Browns faced the two-time defending champion Philadelphia Eagles in their first regular-season game. Many sportswriters and owners considered the Browns inferior despite their success in the AAFC, calling them the dominant team in a minor league, but Cleveland defeated Philadelphia 35–10, the first of 10 victories on the season. Cleveland's only two losses came against the New York Giants, with whom the team shared a 10–2 record at the end of the regular season.

The tie forced a playoff to determine whether the Browns or Giants would win the American Conference and play in the championship game. Cleveland won the playoff 8–3 in freezing weather at Cleveland Stadium. A week later, on Christmas Eve, the Browns faced the Rams at home in the championship. Cleveland fell behind 28–20 in the fourth quarter against the Rams' potent offense, but quarterback Otto Graham engineered a comeback with a touchdown pass to Rex Bumgardner and a long drive that set up a winning field goal by Lou Groza with 28 seconds left to play. It was the first of six straight NFL championship appearances for the Browns. Cleveland fullback Marion Motley led the NFL in rushing, and seven Browns were selected to play in the first-ever Pro Bowl, the league's all-star game.

1951 Cleveland Browns season

The 1951 Cleveland Browns season was the team's second season with the National Football League. Dub Jones set an NFL record with six touchdowns in one game versus the Chicago Bears.

1952 All-Pro Team

The 1952 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1952 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), and the New York Daily News.

1953 All-Pro Team

The 1953 All-Pro Team consisted of American football players chosen by various selectors for the All-Pro team of the National Football League (NFL) for the 1953 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP) (based on voting among 48 member paper sports writers and AP staffers), the United Press (UP), and the New York Daily News.

1954 Cleveland Browns season

The 1954 Cleveland Browns season was the team's fifth season with the National Football League. The Browns' defense became the first defense in the history of the NFL to lead the league in fewest rushing yards allowed, fewest passing yards allowed and fewest total yards allowed. Assistant coach Weeb Ewbank left the club to coach the Baltimore Colts.

1955 Cleveland Browns season

The 1955 Cleveland Browns season was the team's sixth season with the National Football League. The Browns' defense became the first defense in the history of the NFL to lead the league in fewest points allowed and fewest total yards allowed for two consecutive seasons.

1957 NFL Championship Game

The 1957 National Football League championship game was the 25th annual championship game, held on December 29 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit, Michigan.The Detroit Lions (8–4), winners of the Western Conference, hosted the Cleveland Browns (9–2–1), champions of the Eastern Conference. Detroit had won the regular season game 20–7 three weeks earlier on December 8, also at Briggs Stadium, but lost quarterback Bobby Layne with a broken right ankle late in the first half. Reserve quarterback Tobin Rote, a starter the previous year with Green Bay, filled in for Layne and won that game with Cleveland, the next week at Chicago, and the tiebreaker playoff game at San Francisco.

It was the fourth pairing of the two teams in the championship game; they met previously in 1952, 1953, and 1954. The Browns were favored by three points, but the home underdog Lions scored two touchdowns in each quarter and won in a rout, 59–14.Until 2006, this was the last time that major professional teams from Michigan and Ohio met in a postseason series or game. As of 2018, this was the last playoff game played in the city of Detroit other than Super Bowl XL in 2006. The Lions other two home playoff games since 1957 (1991 and 1993) were played at the Pontiac Silverdome in nearby Pontiac, Michigan.

Dick Rifenburg

Richard Gale "Dick" Rifenburg (August 21, 1926 – December 5, 1994) was an American football player and a pioneering television broadcaster for the forerunner to WIVB-TV in Buffalo. He played college football for the University of Michigan Wolverines in 1944 and from 1946 to 1948. He was a consensus selection at end on the 1948 College Football All-America Team. Rifenburg played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) with the Detroit Lions for one season in 1950. After retiring from football he settled in Buffalo and became a sports broadcaster. He worked as a color commentator and as a play-by-play announcer for the Buffalo Bulls. He hosted various television and radio sports shows and was eventually inducted into the Buffalo Broadcasters Hall of Fame.

In college, he led the Big Ten Conference in single season receptions during his senior year and set Michigan Wolverines receptions records for both career touchdown and single-season touchdowns. He had also been a Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) state champion in both basketball and track and field. His college career was interrupted by World War II service, and his high school career was also affected by the war due to the MHSAA's cancellation of state championships in all sports in 1943.

History of Michigan Wolverines football in the Crisler years

The History of Michigan Wolverines football in the Crisler years covers the history of the University of Michigan Wolverines football program during the period from the hiring of Fritz Crisler as head coach in 1938 through his retirement as head coach after winning the 1948 Rose Bowl. Michigan was a member of the Big Ten Conference during the Crisler years and played its home games at Michigan Stadium.

During the 10 years in which Crisler served as head football coach, Michigan compiled a record of 71–16–3 (.806). Tom Harmon played for the Wolverines from 1938 to 1940 and in 1940 became the first Michigan player to win the Heisman Trophy. 1947 Michigan team, sometimes known as the "Mad Magicians", compiled a perfect 10–0 record, outscored its opponents 394–53, defeated the USC Trojans 49–0 in the 1948 Rose Bowl game, and were selected as the nation's No. 1 team by a 226–119 margin over Notre Dame in an unprecedented AP Poll taken after the bowl games. Bob Chappuis finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1947.

Ten players from the Crisler years have been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. They are Chappuis, Bump Elliott, Pete Elliott, Harmon, Elroy "Crazy Legs" Hirsch, David M. Nelson (inducted as coach), Tubby Raymond (inducted as coach), and Bob Westfall, Albert "Ox" Wistert, and Alvin "Moose" Wistert. Two have also been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame—Hirsch and Len Ford. Three members of the coaching staff have also been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. They are Crisler, Clarence "Biggie" Munn, and Bennie Oosterbaan (inducted as player).

John Kissell

John Jay "Big John" Kissell (May 14, 1923 – April 9, 1992) was an American football defensive tackle who played for the Buffalo Bills in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and the Cleveland Browns in the National Football League in the 1940s and 1950s. He played college football at Boston College.

Kissell grew up in Nashua, New Hampshire, and attended Boston College on an athletic scholarship. He played there for the 1942 season, when the school's football team made the Orange Bowl but lost to Alabama. He then entered the U.S. Army during World War II, serving in Europe, Africa and the Middle East for three years. He returned to college after the war and played football for two more seasons.

Kissell signed with the Bills in 1948 and played there for two years before the AAFC dissolved and the team disbanded. He was then sent to the Browns in a deal orchestrated by coach Paul Brown to acquire former Buffalo players. He played in Cleveland through 1956, interrupted by one year with the Ottawa Rough Riders of the Canadian Football League. He was part of a defensive line that featured Len Ford, Don Colo and Bob Gain, who helped the Browns win NFL championships in 1950, 1954, and 1955. Kissell spent two years away from football after leaving the Browns, returning to play for the Kitchener-Waterloo Dutchmen in Canada for the 1959 season. He then retired from playing and became a junior high school teacher back in Nashua. He died of cancer in 1992.

List of Cleveland Browns Pro Bowl selections

This is a list of Cleveland Browns players who were elected to the Pro Bowl.

The year indicates when the game was played, not the season that it followed.

List of Green Bay Packers in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. They are currently members of the North Division of the National Football Conference (NFC) in the National Football League (NFL), and are the third-oldest franchise in the NFL. Founded in 1919 by coach, player, and future Hall of Fame inductee Curly Lambeau and sports and telegraph editor George Whitney Calhoun, the Packers organization has become one of the most successful professional football teams, having won a total of 13 professional American football championships—nine NFL Championships and four Super Bowls—the most in the NFL. The franchise has recorded 18 NFL divisional titles, eight NFL conference championships, and the second most regular season and overall victories of any NFL franchise, behind the Chicago Bears. In 1963, the Pro Football Hall of Fame was created to honor the history of professional American football and the individuals who have greatly influenced it. Since the charter induction class of 1963, 31 individuals who have played or coached for the Packers have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.Of the 30 inductees, 25 made their primary contribution to football with the Packers, while five only contributed a minor portion of their career to the Packers and two were assistant coaches. Of the original 17 individuals inducted in 1963, four spent the major part of their career with the Green Bay Packers. This includes the founder Curly Lambeau, the NFL's all-time offensive tackle Cal Hubbard, the 1941 and 1942 Most Valuable Player Don Hutson, and 1931 All-NFL player Johnny (Blood) McNally. The first two decades of the Hall of Fame's existence saw 17 Packers enshrined, including one inductee who was not a player for the Packers, Vince Lombardi. Coaching the Packers from 1959 to 1967, Lombardi led the team to five NFL Championships, plus winning the first two Super Bowls against the American Football League, and an overall winning percentage of .754. The most recent Packer to be inducted was Jerry Kramer in 2018.

List of Green Bay Packers players

The following is a list of notable past or present players of the Green Bay Packers professional American football team.

Morgan State Bears football

The Morgan State Bears football team competes in American football on behalf of Morgan State University. The Bears compete in the NCAA Division I Football Championship Subdivision, currently as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). The Bears play their home games at Hughes Stadium, a 10,000 seat facility in Baltimore, Maryland.

Morgan State began playing football in 1898, 31 years after the school was founded. The team's all-time record is 405 wins, 379 losses and 38 ties. 173 of those wins came between 1929 and 1959 when Edward P. Hurt was the head coach and the Bears won 14 Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (CIAA) championships. Earl Banks won four CIAA championships during the 1960s and an additional championship in 1971 after Morgan entered the MEAC. The Bears have won three MEAC Championships (1976, 1979 and 2014).

National Football League 1950s All-Decade Team

This is a list of all NFL players who had outstanding performances throughout the 1950s and have been compiled together into this fantasy group. The team was selected by voters of the Pro Football Hall of Fame retroactively in 1969 to mark the league's 50th anniversary.

Notes:

N1 Team that belonged to the All-America Football Conference for at least part of the player's tenure

Quarterbacks
Running backs
Wide receivers /
ends
Tight ends
Offensive
linemen
Pre-modern era
two-way players
Defensive
linemen
Linebackers
Defensive backs
Placekickers
and punters
Coaches
Contributors

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