Modell Fires Paul Brown
On this day in 1963, Cleveland Brown’s owner Art Modell fired the team’s only coach in its history and namesake Paul Brown. In 17-years as coach, Brown guided the team to 7 title games, winning three with only one losing season.
Brown reportedly was the first in pro football with, among other things -(i) play books; (ii) classroom teaching techniques; (iii) a year-round, full-time staff of assistants; (iv) comprehensive game plans; (v) a player grading system based on film clips; and (vi) taxi squads.
The autocratic Brown, however, clashed with Modell who bought the team in 1961. He traded star running back Bobbie Mitchell for the rights to Heisman Trophy winner Ernie Davis without consulting Modell. Davis contracted leukemia before the season and Modell wanted to give the star a chance to play while his disease was in remission, but Brown refused to play him.
Brown refused to cede any authority or be diplomatic in his relationship with Modell. Modell felt Brown was unwilling to adapt to the way football was played in the early 1960s. Many players from that time agreed. “Paul didn’t adjust to the changes in the game,” former Browns cornerback Bernie Parrish said in 1997. “By 1962, he was more worried about protecting his reputation as the Greatest Coach Who Ever Lived than he was about winning a title. … By the end of the 1962 season, a lot of us wanted to be traded because we were convinced that we’d never win a title with Paul Brown – and we never believed Paul Brown was going anywhere.”
Blanton Collier, Brown’s longtime assistant, took over as the Brown’s coach and led them to the championship in 1964.
A seething Brown ultimately became part of the ownership of the expansion Cincinnati Bengals and became its first coach and general manager. He guided the Bengals to three playoff appearances in eight years, but he could not get past the other dominant teams of that era the Miami Dolphins, the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers.
In his final season, the Bengals went a franchise best 11-3 but that was only good enough for second place to the defending-champion Pittsburgh Steelers. As a wild-card they had to Oakland, a team they beat in Cincinnati 14-10, but would lose in Oakland 31-28.
Brown’s career record is below:
|Year||Tm||Lg||W||L||T||G plyf||W plyf||L plyf||Notes|
|1946||Cleveland Browns||AAFC||12||2||0||1||1||0||AAFC Champions|
|1947||Cleveland Browns||AAFC||12||1||1||1||1||0||AAFC Champions|
|1948||Cleveland Browns||AAFC||14||0||0||1||1||0||AAFC Champions|
|1949||Cleveland Browns||AAFC||9||1||2||2||2||0||AAFC Champions|
|1950||Cleveland Browns||NFL||10||2||0||2||2||0||NFL Champions|
|1954||Cleveland Browns||NFL||9||3||0||1||1||0||NFL Champions|
|1955||Cleveland Browns||NFL||9||2||1||1||1||0||NFL Champions|