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20 year anniversary of the passing of Paul Brown


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This from Lance's blog marking the anniversary of his passing:

Paul Brown died at his suburban Cincinnati home early on August 5, 1991, from complications caused by pneumonia. He was 82.

Brown's funeral service was held on August 7, 1991, at St. Timothy's Episcopal Church in Massillon, OH. Ken Anderson, Lin Houston, Tommy James, Dave Lapham, Reggie Williams, and Gene Fekete served as pallbearers for the service.

The Cincinnati Bengals opened training camp at Wilmington College for the twenty-fourth consecutive year, on July 18, 1991, and Paul Brown had missed attending the opening of camp due to continued recuperation from pneumonia.

Paul Brown played high school football at Massillon Washington High School. Following high school, he enrolled at The Ohio State University as a quarterback on the freshman team, but opted to transfer to Miami University, where he completed his collegiate eligibility as a star quarterback.

Paul Brown began his coaching career in 1930, after graduating with a B.A. in Education from Miami University, where he had played quarterback. He coached high school football for nine seasons (1933-1940) at Massillon Washington High School (where he also played while in high school) in Massillon, OH.

Brown next served as head coach for three seasons (1941-1943) at The Ohio State University, where his last two teams were greatly handicapped by the loss of players to military service for World War II. In April 1944 Brown was reclassified and commissioned as a junior grade lieutenant in the United States Navy, serving at the Great Lakes Naval Station in Chicago, IL. At the time of his commission, Brown was on leave of absence from Ohio State. He served as the football officer (head coach) of the station's football team for two years (1944-1945) during World War II, taking over in August 1944 for Tony Hinkle (of Butler University fame), who had been the station's football coach prior to becoming athletic director of the station and subsequently being transferred to Navy sea duty.

In February 1945, although Brown was still technically the head coach at Ohio State, as the position had been reserved for him, he opted to go a different direction with his coaching career. Brown signed a five-year contract to be the coach and general manager of the team in Cleveland, OH that was organizing to join an upstart league called the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). Brown cited that he couldn't turn down the offer, as he had reached the point in his life when he had to decide if he wanted to continue as a professor or as a business man. The Cleveland job was his once his commitment to the Navy was complete. This move ended his tenure as head coach at Ohio State. Ohio State was still in good hands with Carroll Widdoes, who was an assistant under Brown at Ohio State and assumed the duties as head coach in Brown's absence. Widdoes coached Ohio State in 1944 and led the 1944 team to an undefeated, untied season (9-0). Brown's new professional football team in Cleveland eventually took on the name "Cleveland Browns" in January 1946.

The Cleveland Browns played four seasons (1946-1949) in the AAFC, winning the league championship in all four seasons. Brown integrated the Cleveland Browns from the outset, with players Marion Motley and Bill Willis playing in 1946 (prior to Jackie Robinson breaking the color barrier for Major League Baseball in 1947). The rival National Football League had been integrated during its early years, but did not have any black players after 1933 until the Rams (after moving from Cleveland to Los Angeles) signed black players in 1946. In 1950, the AAFC folded, but three of its teams, including the Browns, joined the existing National Football League. The Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship in 1950 -- the first of three NFL titles in the 1950s. Despite continued success throughout his tenure as head coach, in January 1963 Paul Brown was fired by Browns majority owner Art Modell.

Paul Brown was elected and inducted into Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

Paul Brown's son, Mike Brown, made a study of the Cincinnati area in the mid-1960s and determined that it would be a solid setting for a pro football team. Paul Brown, Mike Brown, John Sawyer, and Dr. William Hackett headed a group of backers that were able to land an expansion franchise in the American Football League (AFL), after initially pursuing an attempt to bring an expansion NFL franchise to the city. Paul Brown served as head coach of the AFL expansion Cincinnati Bengals for the first eight seasons (1968-1975) of play for the franchise. Following his resignation as head coach on New Year's Day 1976, Brown continued to run Bengals operations as the team's Vice-President, General Manager, and part owner, until his death on August 5, 1991.

Paul Brown was known as an innovator as a football coach. He introduced intelligence tests for his players, established a film library and used film to grade players, instructed players in a classroom setting, called plays from the sideline, introduced the use of facemasks at the professional level, introduced offensive pass patterns, used playbooks, hired full-time position coaches, housed his team together the night before a game, and used offensive guards to carry messages of plays from the sideline to the offense.

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