Brown, Paul, 1908-1991

On September 7, 1908, Paul Eugene Brown was born in Norwalk, Ohio. His father, Lester, was employed by the Wheeling and Lake Erie Railroad. The Browns moved to Massillon, Ohio when Paul was nine. He played varsity quarterback for the Washington High School Tigers, graduating in 1926. Having first attended Ohio State University, Brown transferred to Miami University in 1928. He played for two years as quarterback for the Miami University Redskins under Coach Chester Pittser. While at Miami, Brown married his high school sweetheart, Kathryn “Katie” Kester, in 1929. He graduated from Miami with a B.A. in Education in 1930. He would later receive an M.A. in Education from Ohio State University (1940). Upon graduation from Miami, Brown began his coaching career as Severn Prep High School head coach in Maryland from 1930-1931. The team ended the season with a record 16-1-1. Brown then returned to his Washington High School Tigers as their head football coach. At the end of Brown’s nine years with the Tigers, the team posted an 80-8-2 record, including a 35-game winning streak. The team’s success helped to build a new high school stadium, named The Paul Brown Tiger Stadium. In 1941, Brown became the head coach at Ohio State University, where he became known as “Precision Paul,” owing to his emphasis on developing players’ speed, intelligence, and precision in execution. Despite losing a majority of the team to military service, Brown led the Buckeyes to the university’s first National Championship. Brown was drafted in 1944 and served as lieutenant (junior grade) in the U.S. Navy at Great Lakes Naval Station, where he was appointed head coach of the Bluejacket football team. Brown was joined on the Bluejackets team by fellow Miamians Weeb Ewbank and Ara Parseghian. In 1946, Brown became part-owner, general manager, and head coach of a new team being formed in Cleveland that would be entered into the newly created All-American Football Conference (AAFC). The public was solicited to select a name for the new team. First selected was the name of the “Panthers,” which had been previously used by another local team with a history for losing games. That name was rejected. A second solicitation yielded the name “Brown Bombers,” after heavyweight champion Joe Louis. The name was shortened to the “Browns” and follows the team to this day. Brown was a great innovator during his time in Cleveland. He was the first to use intelligence tests to judge players, establish a game film library, instruct players in a classroom setting, use a radio transmitter to communicate with players on the field, and install face masks on helmets. It was also in Cleveland that Brown began to draft African-American players who were previously banned from the league. The NFL and AAFC merged in 1950. In the first year of the merger, the Browns won the NFL Championship. Brown built a pro football dynasty in Cleveland, posting a 167-53-8 record, four AAFC titles, three NFL crowns, and only one losing season in 17 years. Regardless of his achievements, he and the new majority owner, Art Modell, did not always see eye to eye. In 1963, Brown was terminated as coach of the Cleveland Browns over a recruitment issue. In 1967, Paul Brown was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, in 1967. After a five-year hiatus from professional football, Brown returned as principal owner, general manager, and head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals. In 1969, his wife Katie passed away. In 1973, he married his former secretary, Mary Rightsell. Brown stepped down as the Bengals coach on January 1, 1976, but remained as team president. The Bengals’ current home stadium, which opened in 2000, is named the Paul Brown Stadium. Brown passed away in Cincinnati on August 5, 1991, at the age of 82 years. He is buried at Rose Hill Cemetery in Massillon, Ohio.

From the guide to the Cradle of Coaches Archive - Paul Brown Collection, 1941-2007, (Miami University)


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