Marion Motley

Marion Motley (June 5, 1920 – June 27, 1999) was an American football fullback and linebacker who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL). He was a leading pass-blocker and rusher in the late 1940s and early 1950s, and ended his career with an average of 5.7 yards per carry, a record for a fullback that still stands. A versatile player who possessed both quickness and size, Motley was a force on both offense and defense. Fellow Hall of Fame running back Joe Perry once called Motley "the greatest all-around football player there ever was".[1]

Motley was also one of the first two African-Americans to play professional football in the modern era, breaking the color barrier along with teammate Bill Willis in September 1946, when the two played their first game for the Cleveland Browns.[2]

Motley grew up in Canton, Ohio. He played football through high school and college in the 1930s before enlisting in the military during World War II. While training in the U.S. Navy in 1944, he played for a service team coached by Paul Brown. Following the war, he went back to work in Canton before Brown invited him to try out for the Cleveland Browns, a team he was coaching in the newly formed AAFC. Motley made the team in 1946 and became a cornerstone of Cleveland's success in the late 1940s. The team won four AAFC championships before the league dissolved and the Browns were absorbed by the more established NFL. Motley was the AAFC's leading rusher in 1948 and the NFL leader in 1950, when the Browns won another championship.

Motley and fellow black teammate Bill Willis contended with racism throughout their careers. Although the color barrier was broken in all major American sports by 1950, the men endured shouted insults on the field and racial discrimination off of it. "They found out that while they were calling us niggers and alligator bait, I was running for touchdowns and Willis was knocking the shit out of them," Motley once said. "So they stopped calling us names and started trying to catch up with us."[3] Focused exclusively on winning, Brown did not tolerate racism within the team.

Slowed by knee injuries, Motley left the Browns after the 1953 season. He attempted a comeback in 1955 as a linebacker for the Pittsburgh Steelers but was released before the end of the year. He then pursued a coaching career, but was turned away by the Browns and other teams he approached. He attributed his trouble finding a job in football to racial discrimination, questioning whether teams were ready to hire a black coach. Motley was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1968.

Marion Motley
Marion Motley shown running on a 1950 football card
Marion Motley on a 1950 Bowman football card
No. 76, 36
Position:Fullback / Linebacker
Personal information
Born:June 5, 1920
Leesburg, Georgia
Died:June 27, 1999 (aged 79)
Cleveland, Ohio
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:238 lb (108 kg)
Career information
High school:Canton McKinley
(Canton, Ohio)
Career history
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
Rushing yards:4,720
Yards per carry:5.0
Rushing touchdowns:31
Player stats at
Player stats at PFR
Marion Motley
Allegiance United States
Service/branch United States Navy
Years of service1944–1945
UnitGreat Lakes Naval Station

Early years and college career

Motley was born in Leesburg, Georgia and raised in Canton, Ohio, where his family moved when he was three years old.[4] After going to elementary and junior high schools in Canton, Motley attended Canton McKinley High School, where he played on the football and basketball teams.[4] He was especially good as a football fullback, and the McKinley Bulldogs posted a win-loss record of 25–3 during his tenure there.[4] The team's three losses all came against Canton's chief rivals, a Massillon Washington High School team led by coach Paul Brown.[4]

After he graduated, Motley enrolled in 1939 at South Carolina State College, a historically black school in Orangeburg, South Carolina.[4] He transferred before his sophomore year to the University of Nevada, where he was a star on the football team between 1941 and 1943.[4][5] As a punishing fullback for the Wolf Pack, Motley played against powerful West Coast teams including USF, Santa Clara, and St. Mary's.[6] He suffered a knee injury in 1943 and returned to Canton to work after dropping out of school.[4]

Military and professional career

As United States involvement in World War II intensified, Motley joined the U.S. Navy in 1944 and was sent to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station.[4] There he played for the Great Lakes Navy Bluejackets, a military team coached by Paul Brown, who was serving in the Navy during an extended leave from his job as head coach of The Ohio State University's football team.[4] Motley played fullback and linebacker at Great Lakes, and was an important component of the team's offense and defense.[7] The highlight of his time at Great Lakes was a 39–7 victory over Notre Dame in 1945.[8] Motley was eligible for discharge before the game – it was the final match of the season and the last military game of World War II – but he stayed on to play.[8] Motley put up an impressive performance, thanks in part to Brown's experimentation with a new play: a delayed handoff later called the draw play.[8]

After the war, Motley went back to Canton and began working at a steel mill, planning to return to Reno in 1946 to finish his degree.[7] That summer, however, Paul Brown was coaching a team in the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC) called the Cleveland Browns. Motley wrote to Brown asking for a tryout, but Brown declined, saying he already had all the fullbacks he needed.[9] At the beginning of August, however, Brown invited Bill Willis, another African-American star, to try out for the team at its training camp in Bowling Green, Ohio.[9] Ten days later, Brown invited Motley to come, too. "I think they felt [Willis] needed a roommate," Motley later said. "I don't think they felt I'd make the team. I'm glad I was able to fool them."[9]

Both Motley and Willis made the team and became two of the first African-Americans to play professional football in the modern era.[10] The Los Angeles Rams of the National Football League had signed the only other black players in pro football earlier that year: Kenny Washington and Woody Strode.[10] The four men broke football's color barrier a seven months before Jackie Robinson was promoted from the Class AAA Montreal Royals to join the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1947.[10] Motley felt the Browns would likely be his only opportunity to make a career of football. "I knew this was the one big chance in my life to rise above the steel mill existence, and I really wanted to take it," he said.[9]

Motley was signed to a contract worth $4,500 a year ($57,817 in 2018 dollars).[4] With the Browns, he joined a potent offense led by quarterback Otto Graham, tackle and placekicker Lou Groza and receivers Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie. He was a force to be reckoned with in the AAFC, and helped the team win every championship in the league's four years of existence between 1946 and 1949. He had a combination of quickness and power – he was listed at 238 pounds – that helped him plow through tacklers. He was also an able pass blocker and played on defense as a linebacker.[11] Motley rushed for an average of 8.2 yards per carry in his first season.[12] His forte was the trap play, a scheme where a defensive lineman was allowed to come across the line of scrimmage unblocked, opening up space for Motley to run.[13] He led the league in rushing in 1948 as the Browns posted a perfect 15–0 record.[14] He was the AAFC's all-time rushing leader when the league folded after the 1949 season and the Browns were absorbed into the more established National Football League (NFL).[15] The Browns had a 47–4–3 overall regular-season win-loss-tie record during the AAFC years as Motley rushed for a total of 3,024 yards.[4][16]

Like other black players in the 1940s and 1950s, Motley faced racist attitudes both on and off the field.[9] Paul Brown would not tolerate discrimination within the team; he wanted to win and would not let anything get in his way.[17] Motley and Willis, however, were sometimes stepped on and called names during games.[18] "Sometimes I wanted to just kill some of those guys, and the officials would just stand right there," Motley said many years later. "They'd see those guys stepping on us and heard them saying things and just turn their backs. That kind of crap went on for two or three years until they found out what kind of players we were."[18] Motley and Willis did not travel to one game against the Miami Seahawks in the Browns' early years after they received threatening letters.[19] Another time in Miami, Motley and Willis were told they were not welcome at the hotel where the team was staying. Brown threatened to relocate the entire team, and the hotel's management backed down.[19]

Attitudes toward race in America began to change after the war, which had caused social and political upheaval and prompted people to think about the future with more ambition and confidence.[20] Although progress was slow and racially motivated hostility continued for many years, the color barrier was broken in all major sports by 1950.[21] Many of Motley and Willis's teammates on the Browns were used to playing with black players in college, where teams were integrated across most of the country.[5] The presence of Motley and Willis, meanwhile, contributed to strong attendance at many of the Browns' early games as large black audiences came to watch them.[22] By one estimate, 10,000 black fans saw the Browns play their first game.[22]

Aided by Motley's swiftness and size, the Browns won the NFL championship in 1950, their first season in the league. In October 1950, Motley set an NFL record that stood for more than 52 years when he averaged over 17 yards per rush against the Pittsburgh Steelers, with 188 yards on 11 carries.[23] In December 2002, quarterback Michael Vick of the Atlanta Falcons rushed for 173 yards on 10 carries against the Minnesota Vikings, eclipsing Motley's average.[24] Motley also had a 69-yard rushing and 33-yard receiving touchdowns in the game.[23] While Motley did not factor in the Browns' championship game win against the Los Angeles Rams, he led the league in rushing with 810 yards in 1950 despite averaging fewer than 12 carries per game.[25] He was a unanimous first-team All-Pro selection.[23]

By the 1951 season, Motley started to feel the physical effects of his hard-hitting, up-the-middle running style.[26] He suffered a knee injury in training camp, and he was getting older; by the time the season was in full swing, he was 31.[26] Motley only ran for 273 yards and one touchdown that year, an uncharacteristically low total.[26] Despite Motley's troubles, the Browns made the championship game again after winning the American Conference with an 11–1 record. Cleveland, however, lost the title game to the Rams, 24–17.[23] Motley had just five carries and 23 yards.[26]

Motley's knees continued to bother him in 1952. While he showed occasional signs of his old form that season, it became clear to the Browns' coaching staff that he was no longer in his prime.[27] Motley finished the year with 444 yards of rushing and 4.3 yards per carry, a career low.[27] The Browns finished with an 8–4 record but still captured the conference title and secured another spot in the NFL championship game.[28] Motley performed well in that matchup against the Detroit Lions, rushing for 95 yards.[29] The Browns, however, lost 17–7.[30]

The 1953 season was no better for Motley, whose effectiveness was again limited by injury.[31] Cleveland finished with an 11–1 record and faced Detroit in the championship for the second year in a row.[32] As Motley's production declined, the Browns relied on Otto Graham's passing to Lavelli and receiver Ray Renfro, who also lined up as a running back.[33] Motley did not participate in the championship game that year, another loss to the Lions.[31]

Motley thought he could come back and play a ninth season in 1954, and showed up to training camp to prove it. Paul Brown, however, thought otherwise.[31] Dogged by injuries and 34 years old, Motley quit before the season began, after Brown said he would otherwise be cut from the team.[31] "Marion realized that his knee was weak and did not feel that it was coming around," Brown said at the time. "He was one of the truly fine fullbacks in his prime, the type that comes along once in a lifetime. I certainly never will forget some of his runs and I imagine Cleveland football fans feel the same."[34]

Motley took the 1954 season off and attempted a comeback in 1955 after the Browns, who still had rights to Motley under his contract, traded him to the Pittsburgh Steelers for Ed Modzelewski.[31][35] In Pittsburgh he played seven games as a linebacker, but the Steelers released him before the end of the season.[31][35] In his eight years in the AAFC and NFL, Motley had rushed for 4,712 yards and averaged 5.7 yards per carry.[12] His career rushing average is still an all-time record for running backs.[36]

Later life and death

After ending his playing career for good, Motley asked Brown about a coaching job with the team. Brown, however, rejected his overtures, saying Motley should instead look for work at a steel mill – the very career football was his ticket out of.[31] Unable to find coaching opportunities in the NFL, he worked as a whisky salesman in the early 1960s. He got occasional scouting assignments from the Browns, but as the Civil Rights Movement began to coalesce in 1965, he issued a statement saying he had been refused a permanent coaching position by the team numerous times.[37] He applied for a coaching job in 1964, he wrote, and was told that there were no vacancies.[37] The Browns then hired Bob Nussbaumer as an assistant. "When I heard of the hiring of a new assistant, I began to wonder if the full reason is whether or not the time is ripe to hire a Negro coach in Cleveland on the professional level," he wrote.[37] Art Modell, the Browns' owner, responded by saying the team filled its coaching positions based on ability and experience, not race. "We are represented by scouts at every major Negro school. And we now have 12 Negroes signed for the 1965 season," he said.[37]

Motley asked Otto Graham for a job with the Washington Redskins when Graham was head coach there in the late 1960s, but he was again turned away.[1] Motley also signed on to coach an all-girl professional football team called the Cleveland Dare Devils in 1967.[38] By 1969, the team had only played a few exhibition games as Cleveland theatrical agent Syd Freedman struggled to drum up interest in a women's league.[39] Later in life, Motley worked for the U.S. postal service in Cleveland, HM Miller Construction Suffield, Ohio, the Ohio Lottery and for the Ohio Department of Youth Services in Akron.[1][12] He died in 1999 of prostate cancer.[12]

Honors and legacy

In 1968, Motley became the second black player voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, located in his hometown of Canton. Having played successfully as a fullback and pass blocker on offense and as a linebacker on defense, he is seen as one of the best all-around players in football history. Blanton Collier, an assistant who took over as the team's head coach after Paul Brown's firing in 1963, said Motley "had no equal as a blocker. He could run with anybody for 30 yards or so. And this man was a great, great linebacker."[13]

Most of Motley's runs were trap plays up the middle, but he had the speed to run outside. "There's no telling how much yardage I might have made if I ran as much as some backs do now," he once said.[13] Running back Jim Brown surpassed Motley's rushing records in the early 1960s, but many of Motley's coaches and fellow players regarded Motley as the better player, in part because of his strength as a blocker. "There is no comparison between Jim Brown and Marion Motley," Graham said at a luncheon in Canton in 1964. "Motley was the greatest all-around fullback."[40]

In his books The Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football and The New Thinking Man's Guide To Pro Football, football writer Paul Zimmerman of Sports Illustrated called Motley the best player in the history of the sport.[41] He was named to the NFL's 75th Anniversary All-Time Team in 1994.[42]


  1. ^ a b c Piascik 2007, p. 289.
  2. ^ Gary Webster, The League That Didn't Exist: A History of the All-America Football Conference. Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co., 2019; pp. 1-2.
  3. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 51.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Shannon 2008, p. 99.
  5. ^ a b Piascik 2007, p. 39.
  6. ^ "Nevada Yearly Results". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  7. ^ a b Piascik 2007, p. 40.
  8. ^ a b c Cantor 2008, p. 72.
  9. ^ a b c d e Keim 1999, p. 44.
  10. ^ a b c Piascik 2007, p. 32.
  11. ^ Keim 1999, pp. 43–45.
  12. ^ a b c d Shannon 2008, p. 100.
  13. ^ a b c Litsky, Frank (June 28, 1999). "Marion Motley, Bruising Back For Storied Browns, Dies at 79". New York Times. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  14. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 121.
  15. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 149.
  16. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 145.
  17. ^ Piascik 2007, pp. 31, 38–39.
  18. ^ a b Keim 1999, p. 45.
  19. ^ a b Keim 1999, p. 50.
  20. ^ Piascik 2007, pp. 31–32.
  21. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 43.
  22. ^ a b Piascik 2007, p. 47.
  23. ^ a b c d Piascik 2007, p. 169.
  24. ^ "Vick's QB rushing mark". Pro Football Hall of Fame. Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved July 8, 2012.
  25. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 184.
  26. ^ a b c d Piascik 2007, p. 234.
  27. ^ a b Piascik 2007, p. 248.
  28. ^ Piascik 2007, pp. 228–229.
  29. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 252.
  30. ^ Piascik 2007, p. 253.
  31. ^ a b c d e f g Piascik 2007, p. 288.
  32. ^ Piascik 2007, pp. 275–276.
  33. ^ Piascik 2007, pp. 270–276.
  34. ^ Heaton, Chuck (September 21, 1954). "Squad Cut to 39 as Motley Quits". Cleveland Plain Dealer. p. 27.
  35. ^ a b "Modzelewski Brothers To Play Sunday". Beaver Valley Times. United Press. November 19, 1955. p. 7. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  36. ^ "NFL Career Yards per Rushing Attempt Leaders". Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  37. ^ a b c d "Motley Stirs Tempest". Beaver County Times. United Press International. February 5, 1965. p. 16. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  38. ^ "No Kiddin'". The Morning Record. Associated Press. September 9, 1967. p. 9. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  39. ^ Ralbovsky, Marty (November 8, 1969). "Girls Playing The Field". The Times-News. NEA. p. 11. Retrieved July 9, 2012.
  40. ^ Pluto 1997, p. 96.
  41. ^ Zimmerman 1984, pp. 393–401.
  42. ^ "NFL 75th Anniversary All-Time Team". Archived from the original on July 13, 2012. Retrieved July 9, 2012.

Further reading

  • Cantor, George (2008). Paul Brown: The Man Who Invented Modern Football. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-5724-3725-8.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Shannon, Ronald (2008). Profiles in Ohio History: A Legacy of African American Achievement. Bloomington, IN: iUniverse. ISBN 978-0-59547-716-6.
  • Sullivan, George (1972). The Great Running Backs. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons. pp. 79–84. ISBN 0-399-11026-7.
  • Zimmerman, Paul (1984). The New Thinking Man's Guide To Pro Football. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-671-60276-5.

External links

1941 Nevada Wolf Pack football team

The 1941 Nevada Wolf Pack football team was an American football team that represented the University of Nevada as an independent during the 1941 college football season. In their third season under head coach Jim Aiken, the team compiled a 3–5–1 record. The team was invited to play in a post-season game in Honolulu on New Year's Day, but athletic events in the Territory of Hawaii were cancelled after the Attack on Pearl Harbor.Marion Motley, who was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played for the Wolf Pack from 1941 to 1943.

1942 Nevada Wolf Pack football team

The 1942 Nevada Wolf Pack football team was an American football team that represented the University of Nevada as an independent during the 1942 college football season. In their fourth season under head coach Jim Aiken, the team compiled a 4–3–1 record.Marion Motley, who was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played for the Wolf Pack from 1941 to 1943.

1943 Nevada Wolf Pack football team

The 1943 Nevada Wolf Pack football team, known for the final three games as the Flying Wolves and Flying Wolfpack, was an American football team that represented the University of Nevada as an independent during the 1943 college football season. In their fifth season under head coach Jim Aiken, the team compiled a 4–1–1 record.Marion Motley, who was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, played for the Wolf Pack from 1941 to 1943. He suffered a knee injury in 1943 and returned to his home in Canton, Ohio, to work after dropping out of school.

Bill Mackrides also played for the 1943 Wolf Pack. He later played seven years of professional football in the National Football League and Canadian Football League.

On October 8, 1943, due to the loss of players to military service, the Nevada football team merged with the football team from the Reno Army Air Base team at Lemmon Valley. The combination of university and military football squads was reported to be "unprecedented in the history of the nation's wartime football." Because of an Army ruling that prohibited soldiers from playing on college teams, the combined team, known as the "Flying Wolves" or "Flying Wolfpack", played under the air base colors, and the University of Nevada players were deemed to have been absorbed into the air base squad. Jim Aiken remained head coach of the combined team with Lieutenants Dayton Doeler and Edward O'Neill acting as assistant coaches.

1946 Cleveland Browns season

The 1946 Cleveland Browns season was the team's first in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). The Browns, coached by Paul Brown, ended the year with a record of 12–2, winning the AAFC's Western Division. Led by quarterback Otto Graham, fullback Marion Motley and ends Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie, the team won the first AAFC championship game against the New York Yankees.

The Browns were founded by Arthur B. McBride, a Cleveland taxi-cab tycoon, as a charter franchise in the new AAFC. McBride in 1945 hired Brown, a successful coach at the high school and college levels. Brown, who was serving in the U.S. Navy during World War II, began to assemble a roster as the team prepared to begin play in 1946. After beating the Brooklyn Dodgers in an exhibition game, Cleveland opened the regular season against the Miami Seahawks at Cleveland Stadium on September 6, winning 44–0. The Browns proceeded to win six more games before losing for the first time in October against the San Francisco 49ers at home by a score of 34–20. Cleveland lost a second game in a row against the Los Angeles Dons the following week, but rebounded to win the final five games of the season, including a 66–14 victory over the Dodgers. Cleveland finished with the league's best record and a spot in the championship game against the Yankees. The Browns won the game 14–9.

Lavelli led the AAFC in receiving with 843 yards and 8 touchdowns, while placekicker Lou Groza led the league in points scored, with 84. Graham had the league's best passing average, with 10.5 yards per attempt. His quarterback rating of 112.1 was the highest in professional football history until Joe Montana surpassed it in 1989. Cleveland played all of its home games in Cleveland Stadium. The 1946 Browns set a professional football record with 67 defensive takeaways; the record still stands as of 2019.

1949 Cleveland Browns season

The 1949 Cleveland Browns season was the team's fourth and final season in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). The Browns finished the regular season with a 9–1–2 win–loss–tie record and beat the San Francisco 49ers to win their fourth straight league championship. In the season's sixth game on October 9, 1949, the 49ers stopped the Browns' professional football record unbeaten streak after 29 games. The streak started two years before on October 19, 1947, and included two league championship games and two ties.

Cleveland made numerous roster moves before the season, adding tackle Derrell Palmer, linebacker Tommy Thompson and defensive back Warren Lahr, all of whom remained with the team for many years afterward. It was clear even before the season began, however, that the AAFC was struggling and might not survive beyond the 1949 season. The regular season was shortened to 12 games and a new system where the top four teams would participate in a two-week playoff was put into place.

The Browns began the season with a tie against the Buffalo Bills, but won their next four games. Following their loss to the 49ers in the sixth game of the season, the Browns won all but one of their remaining regular-season games, another tie with the Bills. The team finished atop the AAFC standings and faced the Bills in a league semifinal that they won, 31–21. The Browns then beat the 49ers in the championship game, shortly after AAFC and National Football League (NFL) owners agreed to a deal where the Browns, 49ers and Baltimore Colts would merge into the NFL starting in 1950 and the rest of the AAFC teams would cease to exist.

Browns players including quarterback Otto Graham, end Mac Speedie and linebacker Lou Saban were named to sportswriters' All-Pro lists after the season, while head coach Paul Brown was named AAFC coach of the year by Sporting News. Graham led the league in passing for the third time in a row, while Speedie was the league leader in yards and receptions. Fullback Marion Motley was the AAFC's all-time leading rusher. While the Browns were successful in the AAFC, winning all four of its championships, many people doubted that they could match up against NFL teams. Cleveland went on to win the 1950 NFL championship.

1950 All-Pro Team

The 1950 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 1950 NFL season. Teams were selected by, among others, the Associated Press (AP), the United Press (UP), and the New York Daily News.

1950 NFL Championship Game

The 1950 National Football League Championship Game was the 18th National Football League (NFL) title game, played on Sunday, December 24th at Cleveland Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio.In their first NFL season after four years in the rival All-America Football Conference, the Cleveland Browns defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 30–28. The championship was the first of three won by Cleveland in the 1950s under head coach Paul Brown behind an offense that featured quarterback Otto Graham, fullback Marion Motley, and ends Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie.

Cleveland began the season with a win against the Philadelphia Eagles, who had won the previous two NFL championships. The Browns won all but two of their regular-season games, both losses coming against the New York Giants. Cleveland ended the season with a 10–2 win–loss record, tied with the Giants for first place in the American Conference. The tie forced a playoff that the Browns won, 8–3. Los Angeles, meanwhile, finished the season 9–3, tied with the Chicago Bears for first place in the National Conference. The Rams won their playoff, setting up the championship matchup with the Browns, in which the Browns were four-point favorites at home.The game began with a long touchdown pass from Rams quarterback Bob Waterfield to halfback Glenn Davis on the first play from scrimmage, giving Los Angeles an early lead. Cleveland tied the game later in the first quarter with a touchdown from Graham to Dub Jones, but the Rams quickly went ahead again on a Dick Hoerner touchdown run. Cleveland scored two unanswered touchdowns in the second and third quarters, retaking a 20–14 lead. A pair of Rams touchdowns in the third quarter, however, gave Los Angeles a two-possession advantage going into the final period. Cleveland responded with a diving touchdown catch by Rex Bumgardner in the final minutes of the game, followed by a field goal by placekicker Lou Groza with 28 seconds left to win, 30–28.

Lavelli set a then championship-game record with 11 receptions, and Waterfield's 82-yard pass to Davis on the first play of the game was then the longest scoring play in championship history. Los Angeles had 407 total yards to Cleveland's 373, but Cleveland had five interceptions, compared to just one for the Rams. The Browns' Warren Lahr had two interceptions in the game. After the game, NFL commissioner Bert Bell called Cleveland "the greatest team ever to play football".

Bill Willis

William Karnet Willis (October 5, 1921 – November 27, 2007) was an American football defensive lineman who played eight seasons for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and the National Football League (NFL). Known for his quickness and strength despite his small stature, Willis was one of the dominant defensive football players of the 1940s and early 1950s. He was named an All-Pro in every season of his career and reached the NFL's Pro Bowl in three of the four seasons he played in the league. His techniques and style of play were emulated by other teams, and his versatility as a pass-rusher and coverage man influenced the development of the modern-day linebacker position. When he retired, Cleveland coach Paul Brown called him "one of the outstanding linemen in the history of professional football".Willis was one of the first two African Americans to play professional football in the modern era, signing with the Browns and playing a game in September 1946 along with Marion Motley, a contest which took place months before Jackie Robinson broke the color barrier in Major League Baseball with the Brooklyn Dodgers.Born in Columbus, Ohio, Willis attended Ohio State University, where he joined the track and football teams. He was part of a Buckeyes football team that won the school's first national championship in 1942. After graduating in 1944, Willis heard about a new AAFC club in Cleveland led by his old Ohio State coach, Paul Brown. He got a tryout and made the team. With Willis as a defensive anchor, the Browns won all four AAFC championships between 1946 and 1949, when the league dissolved. The Browns were then absorbed by the NFL, where Willis continued to succeed. Cleveland won the NFL championship in 1950.

Willis retired in 1954 to focus on helping troubled youth, first as Cleveland's assistant recreation commissioner and later as the chairman of the Ohio Youth Commission. He remained in that position until his death in 2007. Willis was inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and Pro Football Hall of Fame in the 1970s. He married Odessa Porter and had three sons, William, Jr., Clement and Dan.

Dante Lavelli

Dante Bert Joseph "Gluefingers" Lavelli (February 23, 1923 – January 20, 2009) was an American football end who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL) from 1946 to 1956. Starring alongside quarterback Otto Graham, fullback Marion Motley, placekicker Lou Groza and fellow receiver Mac Speedie, Lavelli was an integral part of a Browns team that won seven championships during his 11-season career. Lavelli was known for his sure hands and improvisations on the field. He was also renowned for making catches in critical situations, earning the nickname "Mr. Clutch". "Lavelli had one of the strongest pairs of hands I've ever seen," Browns coach Paul Brown once said of him. "When he went up for a pass with a defender, you could almost always count on him coming back down with the ball."Lavelli grew up in Hudson, Ohio and played football, baseball and basketball at his local high school. After graduating, he enrolled at Ohio State University, where he played only a handful of games before he was drafted for service in the U.S. Army during World War II. Returning in 1945 after serving in Europe, he joined the Browns in the team's first-ever season in the AAFC. Helped by Lavelli's play, the Browns won each of the AAFC's championships before the league dissolved in 1949 and the team was absorbed by the NFL. Cleveland continued to succeed in the NFL, winning championships in 1950, 1954 and 1955. Lavelli, who helped found the National Football League Players Association toward the end of his career, retired after the 1956 season.

After retiring from football, Lavelli held a variety of coaching and scouting jobs and was active in NFL alumni affairs. He also ran a furniture store in Rocky River, Ohio. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1975. He died in a Cleveland hospital in 2009.

Emerson Cole

Emerson Elvin Cole (born December 10, 1927) is a former American football fullback and linebacker who played for the Cleveland Browns and Chicago Bears in the National Football League in the early 1950s. He played college football at the University of Toledo, and still held the school record for rushing yards in a single season, with 1,162, as of 2013.

Cole was born in Illinois and grew up in Swanton, Ohio, where he was a standout athlete in high school. He attended Toledo on an athletic scholarship and was a mainstay on the football team between 1947 and 1949, setting several school records. The Browns selected him late in the 1950 NFL draft, and groomed him as the replacement for Marion Motley. Cole ran for more than 100 yards in 1950, when the Browns won the NFL championship, and saw his playing time increase the following year after Motely was injured. He was cut, however, in 1952 after coming into conflict with head coach Paul Brown.

After a short stint with the Chicago Bears, Cole retired from football and became a deputy sheriff back in Ohio. He later held jobs with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, including as the statewide compliance director. He retired in 1986. Cole was inducted into Toledo's athletics hall of fame in 1984.

Frank Gatski

Frank "Gunner" Gatski (March 18, 1921 – November 22, 2005) was an American football center who played for the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and the National Football League (NFL) in the 1940s and 1950s. Gatski was one of the most heralded centers of his era. Known for his strength and consistency, he helped protect quarterback Otto Graham and open up running lanes for fullback Marion Motley as the Browns won seven league championships between 1946 and 1955. Gatski won an eighth championship after he was traded to the Detroit Lions in 1957, his final season.

Gatski was born in West Virginia to a coal-mining family. He played for three years on his local high school team before attending Marshall University, where he continued to play football. He joined the U.S. Army in 1942 and went to fight in World War II. Upon his return in 1945, he finished his collegiate studies at Auburn University in Alabama. After graduating, he tried out and made the roster for the Browns, a team under formation in the new AAFC. He played as a linebacker and backup center for most of his first two years before earning a spot as the starting center. He retained that position as Cleveland continued to dominate after the AAFC dissolved and the Browns were absorbed by the NFL in 1950. He retired in 1958, never having missed a game or practice in his career.

After leaving football, Gatski worked briefly as a scout for the Boston Patriots. He then joined a reform school in West Virginia as athletic director and head football coach, staying there until the school closed in 1982. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985. Marshall retired Gatski's number 72 in 2005. He died that year in a nursing home in West Virginia. In 2006, the East End Bridge in Huntington, West Virginia was renamed the Frank Gatski Memorial Bridge in his honor.

Fullback (gridiron football)

A fullback (FB) is a position in the offensive backfield in American and Canadian football, and is one of the two running back positions along with the halfback. Typically, fullbacks are larger than halfbacks and in most offensive schemes their duties are split between power running, pass catching, and blocking for both the quarterback and the other running back.Many great runners in the history of American football have been fullbacks, including Jim Brown, Marion Motley, Jim Taylor, Franco Harris, Larry Csonka, John Riggins, Christian Okoye, and Levi Jackson. However, many of these runners would retroactively be labeled as halfbacks, due to their position as the primary ball carrier; they were primarily listed as fullbacks due to their size and did not often perform the run-blocking duties expected of modern fullbacks. Examples of players who have excelled at the hybrid running-blocking-pass catching role include Mike Alstott, Daryl Johnston, and Lorenzo Neal.

Gaylon Smith

Gaylon Wesley Smith (July 15, 1916 – March 10, 1958) was a professional American football fullback and defensive end who played five seasons for the Cleveland Rams in the National Football League (NFL) and one season for the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Before entering professional football, Smith starred as a halfback at Rhodes College and led the country in scoring in 1938. He was selected by the Rams in the second round of the following season's NFL draft and played for the Cleveland team until deciding to retire from the sport in 1943. After taking a job as a personnel director and playing on a regional basketball and baseball teams based in the Cleveland area, Smith joined the U.S. Navy in 1944 during World War II. He was discharged two years later and signed with the Browns, then a new team in the AAFC. Smith was a second-string player with the Browns, but substituted for an injured Marion Motley late in the season as the team won the AAFC championship game. Smith retired after the 1946 season, but stayed in Ohio to raise his family and work as a manufacturer's representative. He died in 1958 at the age of 41.

Mac Speedie

Mac Curtis Speedie (January 12, 1920 – March 5, 1993) was an American football end who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL) for seven years, and later served for two years as head coach of the American Football League's Denver Broncos. A tall and quick runner whose awkward gait helped him deceive defenders and get open, Speedie led his league in receptions four times during his career and was selected as a first-team All-Pro six times. His career average of 800 yards per season was not surpassed until two decades after his retirement, and his per-game average of 50 yards went unequalled for 20 years after he left the game.

Speedie grew up in Utah, where he overcame Perthes Disease to become a standout as a hurdler on his high school track team and a halfback on the football team. He attended the University of Utah, where he continued to excel at track and football before entering the military in 1942 during World War II. He spent four years in the service before joining the Browns in 1946, where he played as an end opposite quarterback Otto Graham, fullback Marion Motley and fellow receiver Dante Lavelli. The Browns, a new team in the AAFC, won the league championship every year between 1946 and 1949. The Browns merged into the NFL in 1950 after the AAFC disbanded, and Speedie continued to succeed as the team won another league championship. After two more years with the Browns, however, Speedie left the team for the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU) amid a conflict with Paul Brown, Cleveland's head coach. He played two full seasons in the WIFU and one game in a third season before leaving professional football.

Speedie was hired in 1960 as an end coach for the Houston Oilers in the American Football League (AFL). The Oilers won the AFL championship that year, but Speedie left in 1961 after the head coach, former teammate Lou Rymkus, was fired. He then took a job as an assistant for the AFL's Denver Broncos and was promoted to head coach in 1964. His two-year run with the team was unsuccessful, however. After his resignation in 1966, Speedie became a scout for the Broncos, a job he kept until his retirement in 1982. Despite lobbying by friends and former teammates, Speedie was not selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Motley (surname)

Motley is a surname which may refer to:

Archibald Motley (1891–1981), African-American painter

Constance Baker Motley (1921–2005), African-American civil rights activist, lawyer, judge, state senator and Manhattan Borough President

Darryl Motley (born 1960), American Major League Baseball player

Eric Motley (born 1972), African-American bureaucrat

Fannie E. Motley (born c. 1938), first African-American to graduate from Spring Hill College in Mobile, Alabama

Geof Motley, former Australian rules football player and coach

James Motley (1822–1859), English engineer and naturalist

John Lothrop Motley (1814–1877), American historian

Johnathan Motley (born 1995), American basketball player

Marion Motley (1920–1999), American National Football League player

Peter Motley (born 1964), former Australian rules football player

Ronald Motley (1944–2013), American trial attorney

National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team

The National Football League 75th Anniversary All-Time Team was chosen by a selection committee of media and league personnel in 1994 to honor the greatest players of the first 75 years of the National Football League (NFL). Five players on the list were on NFL rosters at the time of the selections: Joe Montana, Jerry Rice, Rod Woodson, Reggie White, and Ronnie Lott. Gale Sayers was named to the team as both a halfback and kickoff returner. Every player is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, except for Billy "White Shoes" Johnson.

Ollie Cline

Oliver Monroe "Ollie" Cline (December 31, 1925 – May 12, 2001) was a college and professional American football fullback who played for the Ohio State Buckeyes, Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions in the 1940s and 1950s. A standout high school athlete in his hometown of Fredericktown, Ohio, Cline attended Ohio State University starting in 1944. He became the football team's primary fullback that year as the school went unbeaten and was ranked second in the nation in the AP Poll. The following year, Cline was named the most valuable player in the Big Ten Conference, rushing for 936 yards as Ohio State built up a 7–2 record and was ranked 12th in the AP Poll. Following a brief stint in the U.S. Army at the end of World War II, Cline returned to Ohio State for a final season in 1947.

Cline began his professional career by signing with the Browns, a team in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) coached by former Ohio State head coach Paul Brown. Cleveland won all of its games and the AAFC championship in 1948 while Cline served as a backup to fullback Marion Motley. Cleveland traded Cline to the Buffalo Bills, where he spent the 1949 season, and joined the Lions in 1950 when the AAFC folded. The Lions won the NFL Championship Game in 1952 and 1953, beating the Browns both times. Cline then retired from football and earned a master's degree in education. He later worked at a variety of school systems in Ohio and Arizona. Cline was inducted into the Ohio State Varsity O Hall of Fame and was named to the Ohio State Football All-Century Team in 2000. He died in 2001.

South Carolina State Bulldogs football

The South Carolina State Bulldogs football team represents South Carolina State University in college football. The Bulldogs play in NCAA Division I Football Championship as a member of the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). A historically dominant football program, the Bulldogs lead the MEAC in conference championships. The school has produced three players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame including Harry Carson, Deacon Jones, and Marion Motley. Other legendary Bulldog players include Robert Porcher and Donnie Shell. Legendary former SC State Coach Willie Jeffries became the first African American Head Coach of a predominantly white Division 1-A football program, when he was hired to coach the Wichita State football program in 1979. Jeffries is enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame.

Marion Motley—championships, awards and honors

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