Have you ever wondered what the greatest teams of all time would look like? Well look no further because throughout the offseason we will be going team by team, assembling the greatest teams of all time! Up next we have the Cleveland Browns, a team that has been the pun of many jokes in recent years, but after a revitalized offseason this could really be a team contending for the division crown. The Browns have a long line of historic names, many who played before the NFL was even around. Hope you enjoy this list and maybe soon we will see some of the current Browns join this list!
Quarterbacks: One of the earliest Cleveland Brown gunslingers, Otto Graham, was a pivotal piece in leading Cleveland to 10 straight championship games before Super Bowls were in place. Graham’s accolades include; 5 MVP’s, 5 Pro Bowls, 6 All-Pros and Class of 1965 Hall Of Fame inductee. Fan favorite Bernie Kosar had some success for the Browns as well, but fans are surely looking towards the future now with Baker Mayfield. If we were doing this list five years from now we could quite possibly see Mayfield at the top.
Running Backs: How could we make this list without including Mr. Brown himself, Jim Brown. Although only playing nine seasons, Brown rushed for 12,312 rushing yards and 106 touchdowns throughout his career. Brown is 10th all-time in career rushing yards and fifth all-time in rushing touchdowns. Another notable running back is Leroy Kelly, who actually was tasked with filling Jim Browns shoes after he retired. Kelly did that and more leading the NFL in rushing and touchdowns for back to back seasons (1967 and 1968).
Wide Receivers: Despite never playing receiver in college the Browns drafted Paul Warfield to fill their receiver needs and it worked wonderfully! In his rookie season, Warfield caught 52 passes for 920 receiving yards and nine touchdowns, which led all Browns receivers. Throughout his career with the Browns he amassed 271 passes for 5,210 yards and 52 touchdowns. Additionally, Dante Lavelli, nicknamed “Gluefingers”, is worth noting as Otto Graham’s favorite receiver. For his career, Lavelli caught 386 passes for 6,488 receiving yards and 62 touchdowns.
Offensive Line: 10,363. If you are a Browns fans then you likely have this number tattooed on your body somewhere. Wait what is it though? It’s Joe Thomas’s NFL record breaking consecutive snap count. No other NFL player has reached 10,000 consecutive snaps. During his 11 year career, Thomas was selected to 10 Pro Bowls and All Pro 7 times. Although never playing in the playoffs, Thomas goes down as one of the best ever for the Browns and the NFL. Frank Gatski was another type of iron man player for the early Browns days as he anchored the offensive line for Otto Graham.
Defensive Line: Len Ford is one of only two Browns to be inducted in the Hall Of Fame that played on defense. During his time with the Browns, Ford was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls from 1951-1954. Crazy fact about Ford is that he also played tight end for the Los Angeles Dons for two seasons before joining the Browns. Michael Dean Perry, another defensive lineman, has several fun fact about himself. One is he was the younger brother of William ‘the Refrigerator’ Perry. The second is that he himself became so popular that the McDonald’s in the Cleveland-area started offering the MDP Burger.
Linebackers: No we aren’t talking the Clay Matthews with long hair, but instead his father. Matthews played 16 seasons with the Browns and become one of the most beloved players on defense during that time. Matthews holds the franchise record for tackles in his career with 1,430 and also sacks with 62. It would be a surprise if Matthews never made the Hall Of Fame. Also remember how Len Ford was one of the two defensive Hall Of Famers for the Browns? Well we have our second one here now in Bill Willis. Willis played eight seasons in Cleveland, beginning in the franchise’s inaugural season in 1946 and finishing his career in 1953. Willis was part of the African American movement into the NFL, initially Willis didn’t even think he would play in the NFL.
Secondary: The Browns have never had the biggest and baddest players out on the field playing cornerback or safety, but there are still a few standout names. Ever wonder how the Dawg Pound section was created? You can thank cornerback Hanford Dixon because his “barking” at other players got fans riled up and created a section of the best fans. Dixon’s partner in crime, Frank Minnifield is also on the list. Minnifield and Dixon brought a star power to the Browns secondary that has yet to be matched. The duo combined for 7 Pro Bowls in their career with the Browns. Honorable mention is Joe Haden who had a roller coaster career for the Browns and made it to 2 Pro Bowls.