Otto Graham

Otto Everett Graham Jr. (December 6, 1921 – December 17, 2003) was an American football quarterback who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL). Graham is regarded by critics as one of the most dominant players of his era, having taken the Browns to league championship games every year between 1946 and 1955, winning seven of them. With Graham at quarterback, the Browns posted a record of 114 wins, 20 losses, and four ties, including a 9–3 win–loss record in the playoffs. While most of Graham's statistical records have been surpassed in the modern era, he still holds the NFL record for career average yards gained per pass attempt, with 8.98. He also holds the record for the highest career winning percentage for an NFL starting quarterback, at 0.826. Long-time New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, a friend of Graham's, once called him "as great of a quarterback as there ever was."[1]

Graham grew up in Waukegan, Illinois, the son of music teachers. He entered Northwestern University in 1940 on a basketball scholarship, but football soon became his main sport. After a brief stint in the military at the end of World War II, Graham played for the Rochester Royals of the National Basketball League (NBL), winning the 1945–46 championship. Paul Brown, Cleveland's coach, signed Graham to play for the Browns, where he thrived. Graham's 1946 NBL and AAFC titles made him the first of only two people on to have won championships in two of the four major North American sports (the second was Gene Conley). After he retired from playing football in 1955, Graham coached college teams in the College All-Star Game and became head football coach at the Coast Guard Academy in Connecticut. After seven years at the academy, he spent three unsuccessful seasons as head coach of the Washington Redskins. Following his resignation, he returned to the Coast Guard Academy, where he served as athletic director until his retirement in 1984. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.

Otto Graham
A photo of Otto Graham in 1959 while serving as football coach at the U.S. Coast Guard Academy.
Otto Graham as head football coach and athletic director at U.S. Coast Guard Academy in 1959
No. 60, 14
Position:Quarterback
Personal information
Born:December 6, 1921
Waukegan, Illinois
Died:December 17, 2003 (aged 82)
Sarasota, Florida
Height:6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)
Weight:196 lb (89 kg)
Career information
High school:Waukegan
(Waukegan, Illinois)
College:Northwestern
NFL Draft:1944 / Round: 1 / Pick: 4
Career history
As player:
As coach:
Career highlights and awards
Career NFL statistics
TDInt:174-135
Passing yards:23,584
Completion percentage:55.7
Passer rating:78.2
Rushing touchdowns:33
Player stats at NFL.com
Player stats at PFR

Early life and college career

Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Graham's first interest growing up was music.[2] Encouraged by his parents, both of whom were music teachers, he took up several instruments: the piano, violin, cornet and French horn.[3][4] Graham also excelled in athletics, and attended Northwestern University on a basketball scholarship in 1940.[5] There he played on the varsity basketball team as a freshman and continued to study music.[6][7] Graham did not take up football until his sophomore year, when Northwestern coach Pappy Waldorf saw him throwing in an intramural game and invited him to practice with the team.[5][6] Northwestern's coaches were impressed with his running and passing, and Waldorf convinced him to sign up.[5][6] Although football became Graham's primary sport, he also played baseball and continued on the basketball team. As a senior, he was named a first-team basketball All-American, part of a squad selected by news outlets comprising the best players at each position.[3]

Graham's first game for the Northwestern Wildcats football team was on October 4, 1941, when he caught a Kansas State punt and returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. He ran and passed for two more touchdowns in the 51–3 victory.[6][8] After scoring another pair of touchdowns in a win against Wisconsin, Graham passed to his wide receivers for two touchdowns in a victory over the Ohio State, coached by Paul Brown, the team's only loss of the 1941 season.[6][9] Northwestern ended the year with an 11th-place showing in the AP Poll of the best college teams in the country.[6][10]

As America's involvement in World War II intensified after the December 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor, Graham signed up for service alongside many fellow student-athletes, entering the U.S. Coast Guard.[5][6] He was able to stay at Northwestern as he waited to be called for active duty. The Wildcats struggled in 1942 as their players joined the war effort, winning only one game.[6][11] Graham still had 89 completions, setting a single-season passing record in the Big Ten Conference, a division of major college teams from the Midwestern United States.[6][12]

The following year Graham and some of his teammates enlisted in the military but continued to play for Northwestern.[6][13] Enlistees from other schools also enrolled at Northwestern, where the U.S. Navy had a training station.[6][14] The 1943 season was a strong one for Northwestern. The team beat Ohio State, the defending national champions, and a good military team at Great Lakes Naval Station.[15][16] The Wildcats lost to Notre Dame and Michigan, however, and finished the season with an 8–2 record and a ninth-place ranking in the AP Poll.[15][16][17] Graham set another Big Ten passing record, was named the conference's Most Valuable Player, received All-American honors and finished third in Heisman Trophy voting.[15][18][19][20] By the end of his college career, he held a Big Ten Conference record for passing yards with 2,132.[3][17]

Graham's career at Northwestern officially ended in February 1944, when he moved to Colgate University in Hamilton, New York, in the Navy's V-5 cadet program, a pilot training course.[21][22] He played basketball for Colgate before moving to North Carolina Pre-Flight later in 1944, where he played on the Cloudbusters football team under coaches Glenn Killinger and Bear Bryant.[17][23]

Impressed by Graham's performances in Northwestern's wins over the Ohio State in 1941 and 1943, Paul Brown came and offered him a contract worth $7,500 per year ($104,376 in 2018 dollars) in 1945 to play for a professional team he was coaching in Cleveland in the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC).[13] Graham would not receive his salary until he started playing, however, and Brown added a monthly stipend of $250 ($3,479 in 2018) until the end of the war.[13] It was a large amount of money at the time. "All I asked was, where do I sign?" Graham said later. "Some of the other navy men said I was rooting for the war to last forever."[13] Graham was also drafted by the National Football League's Detroit Lions, but he did not sign a contract or play a game with the team as the war wore on.[24]

Large numbers of athletes came home as the conflict wound down in Europe following Germany's surrender in mid-1945. The AAFC's first season was not set to start until the fall of 1946, and Graham occupied the intervening months by joining the Rochester Royals of the National Basketball League (NBL), a forerunner of the National Basketball Association.[25] In March 1946, the Royals swept a best-of-five series against the Sheboygan Redskins to win the NBL title.[26]

Professional career

Cleveland Browns in the AAFC (1946–1949)

By the time Graham was discharged from the Navy late in the summer of 1946, training camp for Brown's new team, the Cleveland Browns, had already begun.[27] Concerned that Graham was not ready to start, Brown put in Cliff Lewis at quarterback in the first game of the season. Graham, however, soon replaced Lewis in Brown's T formation offense.[28][29] Handing the ball to fullback Marion Motley and throwing to ends Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie, Graham led the team to a 12–2 regular-season record and a spot in the championship game against the AAFC's New York Yankees.[29][30][31] The Browns won that game, touching off a period of dominance.[29][32] The team won each of the AAFC's four championships between 1946 and 1949, and had professional football's second perfect season in 1948 by finishing undefeated and untied.[33]

Graham's play was crucial to Cleveland's success. He averaged 10.5 yards per pass and had a quarterback rating of 112.1 in 1946, a professional football record until Joe Montana surpassed it in 1989.[34] Graham was named the AAFC's Most Valuable Player in 1947 and shared the Most Valuable Player award with Frankie Albert of the San Francisco 49ers in 1948.[35] He led the league in passing yards between 1947 and 1949.[36] The AAFC dissolved after the 1949 season, and three of its teams, including the Browns, merged into the more established National Football League.[37] Graham was the AAFC's all-time leading passer, throwing for 10,085 yards and 86 touchdowns.[38][39]

Graham became the Browns' uncontested leader, but he was also "just one of the guys", tackle Mike McCormack said in 1999. "He was not aloof, which you see a lot of times today."[40] He was good at spinning and moving in the pocket, skills he learned playing basketball.[17] In his autobiography, Paul Brown praised Graham's ability to anticipate his receivers' route-running by watching their shoulders.[40] "I remember his tremendous peripheral vision and his great athletic skill, as well as his ability to throw a football far and accurately with just a flick of his arm", Brown said.[40] His short passes were hard and accurate, teammates later said, and his long balls were soft. "I used to catch a lot of them one-handed", Lavelli said. "He had great touch in his hands."[24] He was nicknamed "Automatic Otto" for his consistency and toughness.[41]

Cleveland Browns in the NFL (1950–1955)

With Graham at the helm, the Browns continued to succeed when they joined the NFL in 1950. Graham led the Browns to a 10–2 record, which set up a playoff against the New York Giants for a spot in the championship game.[31][42][43] The Browns' only two losses of the season had come against the Giants, but in a frozen Cleveland Stadium on December 17, Cleveland beat New York.[44] With the game tied 3–3 in the fourth quarter, Graham gained 45 yards by running with the ball on a long drive to set up a 28-yard Lou Groza field goal that put the Browns ahead 6–3.[45] A safety after the ensuing kickoff made the final score 8–3.[45]

The win put Cleveland in the NFL championship game against the Los Angeles Rams.[42][46] Graham's rushing and passing were again key to the Browns' 30–28 victory. He drove the offense downfield as time expired to set up a last-minute Groza field goal that sealed the win.[47] Graham had 99 yards rushing in the game, adding 298 yards of passing and four touchdowns.[48]

Cleveland posted an 11–1 record in 1951, losing their only game to the San Francisco 49ers in the season opener.[49] That gave the Browns another spot in the championship game, again against the Rams.[50] This time, however, the Rams won 24–17. Graham fumbled the ball in the third quarter, setting up a touchdown that put the Rams ahead 14–10.[50] Three of his throws were intercepted, but he put up 280 yards of passing and a touchdown.[51] After the season, Graham was named the league's Most Valuable Player.[52]

1954 Bowman Otto Graham
1954 Bowman football card

With Graham at quarterback, Cleveland finished the 1952 season with a 9–3 record and faced the Detroit Lions in the NFL championship game.[53] Despite gaining 384 total yards to Detroit's 258, Graham and the Browns lost their second straight championship, 17–7.[54] Cleveland had several long drives that ended with missed field goals, and a fourth-quarter touchdown was negated because Graham's throw to Pete Brewster was first tipped by receiver Ray Renfro; under rules in place at the time, balls deflected by offensive teammates were automatic incompletions.[55] After the season, as Graham was practicing for the Pro Bowl in Los Angeles on January 2, 1953, his six-week-old son Stephen died from a severe cold.[56]

The 1953 season began with a 27–0 win over the Green Bay Packers in which Graham passed for 292 yards and ran for two touchdowns.[57] It was the first of 11 straight victories for the Browns, whose only loss came in the final game of the season to the Philadelphia Eagles.[58] Near the end of the season in a game against the 49ers, Graham took a forearm to the face from Art Michalik that opened a gash on his chin requiring 15 stitches. Graham's helmet was fitted with a clear plastic face mask, and he came back into the game; the injury helped inspire the development of the modern face mask.[59] Despite an 11–1 record, Cleveland lost in the championship game for the third year in a row, falling to the Detroit Lions 17–16.[60][61] Two of Graham's passes were intercepted. He said after the game that he wanted to "jump off a building" for letting his teammates down. "I was the main factor in losing", he said. "If I had played my usual game, we would have won."[62] Still, Graham finished the season as the NFL's leading passer and again won the Most Valuable Player award.[63]

Before the start of the Browns' 1954 training camp, Graham was questioned as part of the Sam Sheppard murder case. Sheppard, an osteopath, was accused of bludgeoning his pregnant wife to death, and Graham and his wife, Beverly, were friends with the couple. Graham told police that while he and Beverly liked the Sheppards, they did not know much about their relationship.[64]

The 1954 season was a transitional one for the Browns. Many of the players who joined the 1946 team had retired or were nearing the end of their careers.[65] Graham, meanwhile, told Brown that he would retire after the season.[66] After losing the first three games, Cleveland won eight in a row and earned another shot at the championship, again against the Lions.[67] This time, the Browns won 56–10 as Graham ran for three touchdowns and passed for three more.[68] He announced his retirement after the game.[69]

After Graham's potential replacements struggled during the 1955 training camp and preseason, Brown convinced Graham to come back and play one more year.[70] He was offered a salary of $25,000 ($233,820 today), making him the highest-paid player in the NFL.[71] The Browns lost the opener against the Washington Redskins, but went on to a 9–2–1 regular-season record and another chance at a championship.[63] Graham threw two touchdowns and ran for two more as the Browns beat the Rams 38–14.[72] When Brown took Graham out of the game in the fourth quarter, the crowd in the Los Angeles Coliseum gave him a standing ovation.[73] It was the final performance of a 10-year career in which Graham's team reached the championship each year and won seven. "Nothing would induce me to come back", he said later.[73] He was the NFL's passing leader and Most Valuable Player in 1955.[73] He also won the Hickok Belt, awarded to the best professional athlete of the year.[74] Without Graham, the Browns floundered the following year and posted a 5–7 record, their first-ever losing season.[75]

The Browns' record with Graham as starting quarterback was 114–20–4, including a 9–3 record in the playoffs.[73] He still holds the NFL career record for yards per pass attempt, averaging nine.[76] He also holds the record for the highest career winning percentage for an NFL starting quarterback, with 0.814.[77] Graham was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.[78] Having won seven championships in 10 seasons and reached the championship game in every year he played, Graham is regarded by sportswriters as one of the greatest winners of all time and one of the best professional quarterbacks ever to play the game.[79][80][81] He never missed a game in his career.[24]

Graham wore number 60 for much of his career, but he was forced to change it to 14 in 1952 after the NFL passed a rule requiring offensive linemen to wear jersey numbers 50–79 so referees could more easily identify ineligible receivers.[1] The Browns retired his number 14, while 60 remains in circulation.[1] While at Northwestern, Graham wore number 48.[15][82]

Coaching career

When Graham retired from football, he planned to focus on managing the insurance and appliance businesses he owned.[83] In 1957, however, Graham signed on as an assistant coach for the college squad in the annual College All-Star Game, a now-defunct exhibition contest between the NFL champion and a selection of the best collegiate players from around the country.[84] The next year, he was named head coach of the team.[85] With Graham coaching the all-stars in 1958, the team beat the Detroit Lions 35–19.[86]

Coast Guard Academy

Following his convincing win in the all-star game, Graham's friend George Steinbrenner helped get him a job as the head football coach for the Coast Guard Academy in New London, Connecticut.[1][87] Graham, by then 37 years old, was also named athletic director and given a salary "in five figures".[87] School officials said the hiring did not mean Coast Guard would "go big time"; the Division III school played a relatively short schedule at the time against smaller schools in New England.[87] The Coast Guard team had a 3–5 record in Graham's first year as coach in 1959, but improved steadily over the ensuing three years.[88] The team went undefeated in 1963, earning the academy its first-ever post-season bowl appearance.[89] Coast Guard lost to Western Kentucky 27–0 in the Tangerine Bowl.[90] Graham continued to coach in the College All-Star Game while at Coast Guard, and his college team beat Vince Lombardi's Green Bay Packers in a 20–17 upset in 1963.[91] Graham was offered coaching jobs in the NFL numerous times during his tenure at Coast Guard, but he said in 1964 that he was content to stay at the small school on a $9,000 salary. He said he deplored the "win at all costs philosophy" that was necessary to be successful in the professional ranks.[92]

Washington Redskins

Despite his reservations about the professional game, Graham, who moonlighted as a television and radio commentator for the American Football League's New York Jets in 1964 and 1965, left Coast Guard after seven years in 1966 to become head coach of the NFL's Washington Redskins.[93][94] Graham's tenure as the Redskins' coach between 1966 and 1968 was unsuccessful; the team's record during that span was 17–22–3.[95] In his last season as the coach of the Redskins, calls for his firing had intensified as the team's performance worsened from a 7–7 record to a 5–9 record in his third year.[96] The Washington Daily News called for his firing in a front-page editorial in November 1968.[96] Lombardi took over as the Redskins' coach in 1969.

Return to Coast Guard Academy

After being dismissed as the Redskins' coach, Graham returned to the Coast Guard Academy as athletic director and said he planned to stay there until he retired.[97][98] He coached the college team in the College All-Star Game in 1970 for his tenth and final time.[99] The college stars lost for the seventh time in a row that year, falling 24–3 to the Kansas City Chiefs.[100] He was replaced in 1971 by Blanton Collier, who had retired after succeeding Brown as Cleveland's head coach.[101]

In 1974, Graham was named Coast Guard's football coach once again, although he resigned two years later to focus on his duties as athletic director.[102][103] In nine years of coaching, Graham's Coast Guard teams had a combined record of 44–32–1.[104] After eight more years as the school's athletic director, Graham retired in 1984.[105]

Later life and death

An avid golfer and tennis player, Graham partnered with New York Yankees great Joe DiMaggio in numerous golf tournaments later in life.[106] He retired to a house on a golf course in Florida.[106] Graham overcame colon cancer in 1977, but was later plagued by heart ailments and other health problems.[40] He was diagnosed as being in the early stages of Alzheimer's disease in 2001, and died of a heart aneurysm in Sarasota, Florida, on December 17, 2003.[1][106] He had two sons and a daughter with his wife Beverly.[107] In 2013, Northwestern's fundraising department created The Otto Graham Society to honor his achievements at the school and support its athletics programs.[108] In 2014, a new gymnasium at Waterford Country School was dedicated to Otto Graham's memory.[109]

Career statistics

Legend
Led the league
NFL record
NFL champion
UPI NFL MVP/POTY
Bold Career high
Season Team Passing Rushing Fumbles
G* Att Cmp Cmp% Yards Y/A§ TD Int Rat# Att Yards TD Fum Lost
AAFC Statistics
1946 CLE 14 174 95 54.6 1,834 10.5 17 5 112.1 30 -125 1 0 0
1947 CLE 14 269 163 60.6 2,753 10.2 25 11 109.2 19 72 1 0 0
1948 CLE 14 333 173 52.0 2,713 8.1 25 15 85.6 23 146 6 0 0
1949 CLE 12 285 161 56.5 2,785 9.8 19 10 97.5 27 107 3 0 0
NFL Statistics
1950 CLE 12 253 137 54.2 1,943 7.7 14 20 64.7 55 145 6 6 6
1951 CLE 12 265 147 55.5 2,205 8.3 17 16 79.2 35 29 3 7 5
1952 CLE 12 364 181 49.7 2,816 7.7 20 24 66.6 42 130 4 4 4
1953 CLE 12 258 167 64.7 2,722 10.6 11 9 99.7 43 143 6 8 3
1954 CLE 12 240 142 59.2 2,092 8.7 11 17 73.5 63 114 8 3 1
1955 CLE 12 185 98 53.0 1,721 9.3 15 8 94.0 68 121 6 7 4
Career Totals 126 2,626 1,464 55.8 23,584 9.0 174 135 86.6 405 882 44 35 23
Source: Databasefootball.com *Games   Attempts   Completions   §Yards per attempt   Touchdowns   Interceptions   #Quarterback rating

Head coaching record

College

Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Coast Guard Bears (New England Football Conference) (1959–1965)
1959 Coast Guard 3–5
1960 Coast Guard 5–3
1961 Coast Guard 4–4
1962 Coast Guard 5–2–1
1963 Coast Guard 8–1 1st L Tangerine
1964 Coast Guard 3–5
1965 Coast Guard 4–4
Coast Guard Bears (New England Football Conference) (1974–1975)
1974 Coast Guard 4–6
1975 Coast Guard 8–2
Coast Guard: 44–32–1
Total: 44–32–1
      National championship         Conference title         Conference division title or championship game berth

NFL

Team Year Regular season Postseason
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
WAS 1966 7 7 0 50.0 5th in NFL Eastern Conference
WAS 1967 5 6 3 45.5 3rd in NFL Capitol Conference
WAS 1968 5 9 0 35.7 3rd in NFL Capitol Conference
Professional Total 17 22 3 43.6
Source: Pro Football Reference

See also

References

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  96. ^ a b Povich, Shirley (November 24, 1968). "Newspaper Editorial Asks Redskins To Fire Graham". The Tuscaloosa News. p. 14. Retrieved August 3, 2012.
  97. ^ "Otto's Future Uncertain". The Oswego Argus-Press. Associated Press. February 4, 1969. p. 10. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  98. ^ "Graham Returns To Coast Guard Academy". Ocala Star-Banner. Associated Press. January 14, 1970. p. 7B. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  99. ^ "Otto Graham Leads All-Star Drills Twice Daily". Sarasota Journal. Associated Press. July 24, 1970. p. 1C. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  100. ^ "Chiefs In Top Shape Claims Otto". The Evening Independent. Associated Press. August 1, 1970. p. 2–C. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  101. ^ "Collier named all-star coach". Star-News. Associated Press. February 20, 1971. p. 1C. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  102. ^ "Otto Graham Named to Football Post". The Evening News. Associated Press. March 6, 1974. p. 4D. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  103. ^ "Sports Of All Sorts". Beaver County Times. January 22, 1976. p. B3. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  104. ^ "All-Time Coaching Records". College Football Data Warehouse. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2012.
  105. ^ "Foels Succeeds Otto Graham". Youngstown Vindicator. United Press International. February 29, 1984. p. 21. Retrieved July 6, 2012.
  106. ^ a b c Goodall, Fred (October 20, 2002). "Graham fights to remember". Daily News. Sarasota, Florida. Associated Press. p. 10B. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  107. ^ Goldstein, Richard (December 18, 2003). "Otto Graham, 82, Dies; Cleveland Dynasty's Quarterback". The New York Times. Retrieved August 4, 2012.
  108. ^ "Otto Graham Society". The Wildcat Fund. Archived from the original on October 25, 2013. Retrieved October 25, 2013.
  109. ^ "New gymnasium dedicated to Otto Graham". Hartford Sun Times. Archived from the original on April 15, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016.

Bibliography

  • Boyer, Mary Schmitt (2006). Browns Essential. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-57243-873-6.
  • Cantor, George (2008). Paul Brown: The Man Who Invented Modern Football. Chicago: Triumph Books. ISBN 978-1-57243-725-8.
  • Henkel, Frank M. (2005). Cleveland Browns History. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-3428-2.
  • Keim, John (1999). Legends by the Lake: The Cleveland Browns at Municipal Stadium. Akron, Ohio: University of Akron Press. ISBN 978-1-884836-47-3.
  • LaTourette, Larry (2005). Northwestern Wildcat Football. Mount Pleasant, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing. ISBN 978-0-7385-3433-6.
  • Piascik, Andy (2007). The Best Show in Football: The 1946–1955 Cleveland Browns. Lanham, Maryland: Taylor Trade Publishing. ISBN 978-1-58979-571-6.

External links

1942 Northwestern Wildcats football team

The 1942 Northwestern Wildcats team represented Northwestern University during the 1942 Big Ten Conference football season. In their eighth year under head coach Pappy Waldorf, the Wildcats compiled a 1–9 record (0–6 against Big Ten Conference opponents) and finished in last place in the Big Ten Conference. Quarterback Otto Graham was selected by both the Associated Press and United Press as a second-team All-Big Ten player. He was also selected as a third-team All-American by The Sporting News and the Central Press.

1943 Big Ten Conference football season

The 1943 Big Ten Conference football season was the 48th season of college football played by the member schools of the Big Ten Conference (also known as the Western Conference) and was a part of the 1943 college football season.

The 1943 Purdue Boilermakers football team compiled a perfect 9–0 record, tied for the Big Ten championship, led the conference in scoring defense (6.1 points per game), and were ranked No. 5 in the final AP Poll. Guard Alex Agase was a consensus first-team pick on the 1943 College Football All-America Team. Another guard, Dick Barwegen, received the team's most valuable player award.

Michigan, under head coach Fritz Crisler, compiled an 8–1, tied with Purdue for the conference championship, led the conference in scoring offense (33.6 points per game), and was ranked No. 3 in the final AP Poll. The team's sole loss was to consensus national champion Notre Dame. Bill Daley was a consensus first-team All-American and finished seventh in the voting for the Heisman Trophy. Bob Wiese received the team's most valuable player award.

Northwestern, under head coach Pappy Waldorf, compiled a 6–2 record and was ranked No. 9 in the final AP Poll. Quarterback Otto Graham received the Chicago Tribune Silver Football trophy as the most valuable player in the Big Ten. Northwestern's two losses were to No. 1 Notre Dame and No. 3 Michigan.

1943 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans

The consensus 1943 College Basketball All-American team, as determined by aggregating the results of four major All-American teams. To earn "consensus" status, a player must win honors from a majority of the following teams: the Helms Athletic Foundation, Converse, The Sporting News, and Pic Magazine.

1944 NCAA Men's Basketball All-Americans

The consensus 1944 College Basketball All-American team, as determined by aggregating the results of four major All-American teams. To earn "consensus" status, a player must win honors from a majority of the following teams: the Helms Athletic Foundation, Converse, The Sporting News, and Pic Magazine.

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.

1947 Cleveland Browns season

The 1947 Cleveland Browns season was the team's second in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Coached by Paul Brown, Cleveland finished with a 12–1–1 win–loss–tie record, winning the western division and the AAFC championship for the second straight year. As in 1946, quarterback Otto Graham led an offensive attack that featured fullback Marion Motley and ends Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie.

After a number of coaching changes and roster moves in the offseason, including signing punter Horace Gillom and fullback Tony Adamle, the Browns began with a 30–14 win over the Buffalo Bills, the first of a string of five victories. The team lost its only game of the season to the Los Angeles Dons in October. Five more wins followed before a come-from-behind tie in November with the New York Yankees, the team Cleveland defeated in the 1946 AAFC championship. The Browns won their last two games, including a 42–0 shutout against the Baltimore Colts in the finale, to set up a championship game rematch with the Yankees in December. Cleveland beat the Yankees 14–3 in New York on an icy field to win its second championship in a row.

Graham was named the AAFC's most valuable player after leading the league in passing yards, with 2,753, and passing touchdowns, with 25. Speedie led the league in receiving, and several other Cleveland players were named to sportswriters' All-Pro lists. Brown was named the league's coach of the year by Pro Football Illustrated. The Browns played all their home games in Cleveland Stadium, attracting an average crowd of 55,848, the best home attendance record in both the AAFC and the competing National Football League (NFL).

1948 Cleveland Browns season

The 1948 Cleveland Browns season was the team's third in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). After winning the AAFC crown in 1946 and 1947, the league's first two years of existence, the Browns repeated as champions in 1948 and had a perfect season, winning all of their games.

The season began with a number of roster moves, including the addition of linebacker Alex Agase and halfbacks Ara Parseghian and Dub Jones. Following training camp and two preseason games, the Browns began the regular season with a win against the Buffalo Bills. Led by quarterback Otto Graham, fullback Marion Motley and ends Mac Speedie and Dante Lavelli, the Browns followed with a string of victories leading up to a November matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. Both teams had perfect records to that point, the 49ers relying heavily on the offensive production of quarterback Frankie Albert and end Alyn Beals to win their first 10 games. The Browns beat the 49ers 14–7, and followed two weeks later with another narrow victory over San Francisco, their closest competition in the AAFC in 1948.

By the end of the season, the Browns had a perfect 14–0 record and led the league's Western Division, setting up a championship-game matchup with the Bills, who had won a playoff to take the Eastern Division. Cleveland beat Buffalo 49–7 in December to win the championship and preserve its unbeaten record. After the season, Graham, Motley and Speedie were included in many news organizations' All-Pro teams, alongside several other teammates. Graham was named the co-Most Valuable Player of the league alongside Albert. Browns games were televised for the first time in 1948.

The season is recognized as perfect by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, although the National Football League (NFL), which absorbed the Browns when the AAFC dissolved in 1949, does not recognize it. Ohio senator Sherrod Brown wrote a letter to NFL commissioner Roger Goodell in 2008 asking the league to officially recognize AAFC team statistics, including the perfect season. The 2007 New England Patriots were vying to complete a 19–0 season at the time and join the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the only teams to register a perfect record.

In the 2017 NFL season, the Browns went 0-16, becoming the first team in NFL history to have a imperfect season and a perfect season.

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 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.

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".

1951 Pro Bowl

The 1951 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's inaugural Pro Bowl which featured the league's outstanding performers from the 1950 season. The game was played on Sunday, January 14, 1951, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California in front of 53,676 fans. The American Conference squad defeated the National Conference by a score of 28–27. The player were selected by a vote of each conferences coaches along with the sports editors of the newspapers in the Los Angeles area, where the game was contested.The National team was led by the Los Angeles Rams' Joe Stydahar while Paul Brown of the Cleveland Browns coached the American stars. The same two coaches had faced each other three weeks earlier in the 1950 NFL Championship Game in which Brown's team had also defeated Stydahar's. Both coaches employed the T formation offense in the Pro Bowl.Cleveland Browns quarterback Otto Graham was named the game's outstanding player.

1953 NFL Championship Game

The 1953 National Football League championship game was the 21st annual championship game, held on December 27 at Briggs Stadium in Detroit.The defending NFL champion Detroit Lions (10–2) of the Western Conference were led by quarterback Bobby Layne and running back Doak Walker, and the Cleveland Browns (11–1) of the Eastern Conference were led by head coach Paul Brown and quarterback Otto Graham. The game was a rematch of the previous year, which was won by the Lions, 17–7.

This was the Browns' fourth consecutive NFL championship game appearance since joining the league in 1950, and they were favored by three points.The Lions were attempting to become the third team in the championship game era (since 1933) to win two titles in a row, following the Chicago Bears (1940, 1941) and Philadelphia Eagles (1948, 1949).The home underdog Lions rallied in the fourth quarter with a late touchdown and conversion to win by a single point, 17–16. The two teams met the following year for a third consecutive title match-up.

1954 NFL Championship Game

The 1954 National Football League championship game was the league's 22nd annual championship game, held on December 26 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio. Billed as the "1954 World Professional Football Championship Game," the turnover-plagued contest was won by quarterback Otto Graham and the Cleveland Browns, who defeated Bobby Layne and the Detroit Lions by a score of 56 to 10.

1966 Washington Redskins season

The 1966 Washington Redskins season was the franchise's 35th season in the National Football League (NFL) and their 30th in Washington, D.C..The Washington Redskins attempted to make Vince Lombardi their new head coach, but Lombardi refused their offer and the Redskins had to settle for Otto Graham. They finished with a 7–7 record, fifth place in the eight-team Eastern Conference.

In Week Twelve, the Redskins set an NFL record for most points by one team in a regular season game, scoring 72 points against the Giants. (Incidentally, this was one point less than the all-time record, the 73 scored by Chicago in the 1940 NFL Championship Game, in which the Redskins surrendered 11 touchdowns and were shut out.)

1968 Pro Bowl

The 1968 Pro Bowl was the National Football League's eighteenth annual all-star game which featured the outstanding performers from the 1967 season. The game was played on January 21, 1968, at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. The final score was West 38, East 20. Gale Sayers of the Chicago Bears was named the back of the game for the second year in a row and Dave Robinson of the Green Bay Packers received the lineman of the game honors.

Attendance at the game was 53,289. The game had controversy because East coach Otto Graham of the Washington Redskins benched quarterback Fran Tarkenton in the fourth quarter. Some players questioned the benching of a player of Tarkenton’s stature in a charity game. The coach of the West squad was Don Shula of the Baltimore Colts, who won his second Pro Bowl in four years.

Bobby Garrett

Robert Driscoll "Bobby" Garrett (August 16, 1932 – 5 December 1987) was an American football quarterback who played one season in the National Football League.

Born in Los Angeles, California, Garrett was an All-American quarterback at Stanford University, where he also starred as a defensive back. In 1953, he became the third person to receive the W.J. Voit Memorial Trophy as the outstanding football player on the Pacific Coast. After he was named most valuable player of the Hula Bowl, he was drafted by the Cleveland Browns as the first overall selection in the 1954 NFL Draft. The Browns had needed someone to take over for the veteran Otto Graham, but they soon discovered that Garrett had a liability as a quarterback: he stuttered, which made calling plays difficult.Garrett never played a game for the Browns, who traded him along with halfback Don Miller and linemen Johnny Bauer and Chet Gierula to the Green Bay Packers for quarterback Babe Parilli and offensive tackle Bob Fleck. The Packers wanted a backup for veteran Tobin Rote, but did not learn of Garrett's stuttering problem before making the trade. Garrett played just nine games in the NFL.

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 Cleveland Browns starting quarterbacks

The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member of the American Football Conference (AFC) North division.

Since joining the NFL in 1950, the Browns have had 57 different quarterbacks start in at least one game for the team. Pro Football Hall of Fame member Otto Graham, the team's first quarterback, led the Browns to three NFL championships in their first six seasons in the league. Since resuming operations in 1999 after a three-year vacancy, the franchise has been notable for its futility at the quarterback position. From 1999 through week 4 of the 2018 season, the team had 31 different players start at quarterback. Tim Couch, the Browns' first overall draft pick in 1999, is the only quarterback in that stretch to start all 16 games in a season for the team, having done so in 2001. The Browns have started more than one quarterback in 17 consecutive seasons.

List of National Football League annual pass completion percentage leaders

This is a list of National Football League quarterbacks who have led the regular season in pass completion percentage each year. The record for completion percentage in a season is held by Drew Brees of the New Orleans Saints who completed 74.4% of his passes in 2018. Five quarterbacks have led the NFL in completion percentage in four different seasons (Sammy Baugh, Bart Starr, Joe Montana, Steve Young, Drew Brees), and one player (Len Dawson) achieved the same feat in the AFL. Otto Graham led the AAFC in 1947 and the NFL three times (1953-1955).

Otto Graham—awards, championships, and honors

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