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Paul Brown is the Greatest Head Coach of All Time

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Publish Date: 02/17/2024
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster

When discussing the Greatest Head Coaches of All Time, the typical names all pop up. People say it’s Bill Belichick, Don Shula or even Vince Lombardi. However, one coach that typically gets glanced over way too much is the great Paul Brown. When talking about the Greatest Head Coach of All Time, I believe that winning and the impact on the sport has a big mark on the conversation. Only John Heisman, born in Cleveland, has had more of an impact on the sport of football than Paul Brown.

Brown’s impact on the sport of football cannot be overlooked. He practically founded the AFC North. He is why three out of the four teams are even in the NFL. He was a co-founder of the Cleveland Browns, who left and became the Baltimore Ravens, then founded the Cincinnati Bengals and the Cleveland Browns then returned in 1999.

What other coach can say that they are responsible for nearly an entire division in the NFL?

The answer is none.

“Brown with guard John Wooton on the sideline in ’62 at Kezar Stadium in San Francisco, facing one of the other old AAFC teams, the 49ers.”

His teams are responsible for 1,073 wins, eight championships and two Super Bowls. However, his impact on the game doesn’t just stop with those teams. He has coached three of the greatest players ever to play their positions in Otto Graham, Jim Brown and Lou Groza. You could easily debate those three to be the greatest ever to play their respective positions, is there any other coach who could say that?

His contributions to the game of football don’t just end there. He invented a couple of major helmet pieces that have had a huge impact on the entire sport. One of those valuable pieces is the face mask.

One game, quarterback Otto Graham took a big hit and knocked a couple of his teeth out, and he was fed up, so Paul Brown got in contact with his good friend at Riddle and came up with a curved piece of clear acrylic to place on Otto’s helmet to protect him from those big hits to the face. The face mask was quickly placed on every helmet of the Browns players. Also, as a quick little fun fact about how crazy Paul Brown was, since there wasn’t a penalty for grabbing the face mask and pulling them down, Paul had the genius idea of putting thumbtacks on the inside of the face mask, so when someone tried to grab the face-mask to make the tackle, they ended up cutting up their hand.

Another invention he had implemented that was way ahead of its time was the radio transmitter helmet. Two Browns fans, John Campbell and George Sarles, had come up to Paul Brown about the potential of putting a radio transmitter they had made into George Ratterman’s helmet to help cut down on time and mistakes made from getting the plays into the QB from a substitute player. A fun little note about this story, Brown, Sarles and Campbell were very secretive about this project. They even went into the woods to test it, Sarles who had the helmet on, quickly lost the connection and was unable to communicate back to Brown and Campbell. Those two, concerned about Sarles being lost, decided to go into the woods to find him. When they found him, he was talking to a police officer who had picked up the frequency but promised to keep it under wraps because he was a huge Browns fan. It took the NFL a couple of games to figure out that they were using this device in the helmet, but a couple of weeks after they did, they banned it. It remained banned until 1994 and is now a crucial part of the game.

While his contributions to the football game are great, his record also adds a great deal to the argument. Paul Brown was unstoppable when he coached the Browns; he had an immaculate record of 158 wins and only 48 losses, which is nearly a .800 winning record, which is hard even to imagine. On top of that, he managed to rack up 10-straight championship appearances and win seven of them. A huge feat to accomplish especially making the seamless merge from the AAFC to the NFL and not missing a single beat.

His no-nonsense approach touched his players. A week before the 1946 championship game, team captain Jim Daniell got belligerently intoxicated and swung at a Cleveland police officer. When Paul Brown found out, he told him to get out at the next team meeting. He made an example out of him, and the players respected Paul; he got the most out of his players. He may have been ruthless and tough, but he was one amazing head coach. No one wanted to mess with Paul Brown. He was so good at everything that no one wanted to step up to try to challenge him. If you want to talk about the Greatest Head Coach of All Time, leaving the legendary Paul Brown out of that conversation would be a mistake.

 

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