Since returing to the NFL, the Cleveland Browns have been a complete joke. Before the Brownies moved in the mid-1990’s, the orginization had a great 50-year history.
Today we’ll select the top 10 players in Browns history.
T9) Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie – You can’t put one in without the other. Along with quarterback Otto Graham, Lavelli and Speedie dominated the league. The trio were actually ahead of their time, bringing a lot of today’s passing game into the league in the late 1940’s and 50’s. The stats don’t match up with there contemporaries, but they were a large reason the Browns were so good.
8) Ozzie Newsome – Newsome came from an Alabama offense where passing the ball was not at the forefront of the offense. In Cleveland, Newsome had an immediate impact from day one. Newsome was selected to the Pro Bowl three times and helped the Browns to playoff seasons in 1980, 82, 85, 86, 87, 88 and 89.
7) Bernie Kosar – A lot of people tend to undersell the achievements of Bernie Kosar. Let’s face it, he didn’t play like a “normal” quarterback but he got the job done. The Browns were 5-11 in 1984. After Kosar arrived in 1985, he immediately guided them to the playoffs. Kosar would help lead the Brown to three of the next four AFC Championship games. Time has not treated Kosar well – because he came up short all three times.
6) Lou Groza – To say Groza was a clutch kicker would be a massive understatement. The fact is a huge part of the Browns decade-long dominance had to do with the “Toe” of Groza. He was one of the first kickers who could really make a difference in the game, and gave the Browns a decided advantage over most teams.
T4 ) Hanford Dixon and Frank Minnifield – Dixon coined the phrase the “Dawg Pound” and together they formed one of the greatest cornerback tandems in NFL history. From 1986-88, the duo were AFC starters in the Pro Bowl. And a huge reason why the Browns were a consistent playoff contender. Seamingly forgotten outside of Cleveland, Dixon and Minnifield were two of the best to ever play the game.
3) Joe Thomas – Thomas was a Pro Bowler every year he played (10) and a dominant left tackle. Due to no fault of his own, Thomas never played in a playoff game. Thomas was a technically superior offensive lineman who deserved better.
2) Otto Graham – Graham is one of the first truly great quartterbacks. Most of Grahams records set during his career have been broken, but his winning percantage, the best ever in NFL history, may be the most important. The game was much different in Graham’s time. No list of the top 10 quarterbacks of all-time is ever complete without Graham.
1) Jim Brown – This pick was easy. In his shortened professional career, Brown carried the ball 2,359 times for 12,312 rushing yards and 106 touchdowns – which were all records when he retired. He averaged 104.1 rushing yards per game and is the only player in NFL history, to average over 100 yards every game he played. Brown may have been the greatest player in NFL history, and if he wasn’t, he deserves to be in every conversation about who was the best of all-time.