The Cleveland Browns, are notably one of the most successful football teams in the National Football League (NFL). They have held one of the greatest players ever to perform unique football abilities. Overall, the Cleveland Browns have won 31 championship titles, league, conference, and division championships combined. From their success to their suspension in year 1996 to 1999, due to team expansion and legacy issues, the Cleveland Browns have shown that they are not just a force to be underestimated, but to be respected, and watched out for. With the great collaboration, and team work in the field, in the bench, and even the staff and official of the team itself, the Browns was considered as the most well performing team in the NFL. To know the reasons behind their massive football success, let’s have a look at their top ten players, starting off from the team’s humble beginnings until present.
10. Browns’ former tight end, OZZIE NEWSOME, JR.
Born on the 16th of March 1956, Newsome is one of the 280 football legends to have been inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Even before in his college football career Newsome had shown exemplary performance for the sport, he was even a member of his College Hall of Fame. Upon the beginning of his pro-football career, Newsome showed the football crowd that a rookie should not be underestimated. He was Offensive Player of the Year during as a rookie, making him the first to ever receive this award after 25 years of football history. To date, Newsome still holds the record for setting 191 receiving yards. In his 13 year football career, he never missed any game, playing a total of 198 games for the Cleveland Browns. Newsome is also a recipient of the Eagle Award, and award of highest honor, given by the United States Sports Academy.
9. Browns’ former running back, LEROY KELLY
Also one of the 280 inductees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Kelly was one of the best running backs of the Cleveland Browns. He played 10 years in the NFL, with a total of 7,274 rushing yards, 4.2 average, and 74 touchdowns. Kelly was known to be one of the finest runners in his time, but had average skills when it comes to receiving. He however, had quick starting abilities, great balance, and great evading skills, making him less prone to injury. In his NFL career, Kelly only missed 4 games. Leroy Kelly was awarded Pro Bowl six times, from years 1966-1971, and played All-Pro team five times, from years 1966-1971. He is a two time NFL Rushing Champion, from years 1967 and 1968, a receiver of the Bert Bell award, and a member of the NFL 1960’s All Decade Team
8. Browns’ DICK SCHAFRATH
As a cross-trained athlete, from baseball to football, Schafrath was known to have good work ethic, oftentimes possessing a stubborn determination. With that, Shafrath was then nicknamed as “The Mule”. Schafrath’s good work ethic springs from his father when he worked with him in their farm. He left school during his senior year to accept the offer of playing for the Cleveland Browns in the NFL. He was handpicked by none other than, the legendary, Paul Brown. Schafrath weighed only 220 pounds when he started in the NFL. He improvised himself by joining eating contest, and lifting weights. His efforts paid off when he then weighed 270 pounds. Played for the All-Pro Team four times, and played Pro Bowl seven times, then later on became as the team’s MVP in year 1963. In year 2003, he was inducted in the Cleveland Browns Legend.
7. Browns’ DANTE LAVELLI
Also one of the 280 inductees of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Lavelli was one of the players to play for the Browns both in the AAFC and NFL. He was one of the legends who led the Browns to win a total of seven championships. Not only was he one of the greatest players of all times, he was also a member of the US Army, rendering service from years 1942-1945 before finally playing for the Browns. He played alongside other football legends. He was praised by Paul Brown, saying that Lavelli was one of the players that they could count. He was known for his sure hands, making sure catches in inevitable situations, earning him the nicknames, “Gluefingers” and “Mr. Clutch”. He was one of the founders of the National Football League Players Association. Lavelli, played Pro Bowl three times, played three times for the First Team All-Pro, played two times for the Second team All-Pro, and also a player for the 1940’s NFL All-Decade Team.
6. Brown’s former running back MARION MOTLEY
Much like Lavelli, Motley was one of the original Browns. He also enlisted in the military, serving the US Navy in years 1944-1945, before going on to play for the Browns. Known for his size and speed, Motley was a great player, both in offense and defense. He suffered racial discrimination when he played for the Browns, since he was one of the first ever African-American to ever play professional football in their era. Eventually, the discrimination was stopped when people started seeing his great skills and ability, proving the he is a great player. He was one of the players who lead the Browns in winning four AAFC championships, and one NFL championship in year 1950. To date, he still holds the record of 5.7 yards per carry in the NFL history. In year 1968, he was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
5. Browns’ GENE HICKERSON
One of the 280 inductees in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Hickerson was known to be one the fastest players in his time. He earned his fame after the retirement of Jim Brown, and when he was then guarding also one of the legends, Leroy Kelly. His great skills lead the Browns to win five seasons, which then led him to be voted six times as a Pro Bowler. Hickerson became part of the Browns’ Legend Team, and he was also a player for the 1960’s All-Decade Team. He died in year 2008, and in his honor, the Browns added the “GH” symbol in their helmets.
4. Browns’ BILL WILLIS
As one of the first ever African-Americans ever to play in his era, Willis, alongside Motley, suffered racial discrimination during their career. With his speed and agility despite his size, he was one of the players who contributed to the Browns’ Championship win in year 1950. Willis was an All-Pro player in all season of his career, and was also a NFL Pro-Bowler three times in all four season of playing. His techniques paved the way of the development of the modern day linebackers. He is part of the 1940’s All-Decade Team, an inductee, and one of the 280 players of Pro Football Hall of Fame. He retired his #99 jersey in year 2007 at Ohio State University; he was one of the greats who were honored in the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor.
3. Browns’ LOU GROZA
Groza is one of the Brown originals, playing for them both in the AAFC and NFL. He also enlisted in the army before finally playing for the Browns. Nicknamed as “The Toe”, Groza was one of the best kickers in his era. His abilities were one of the contributing factors on the various wins of the Browns. He was MVP in year 1954, and was a NFL lead scorer in year 1957. He played Pro-Bowl nine times, and played in the First Team All-Pro four times. He played a total of 21 seasons for the Browns, and was with them in all four championship wins both in AAFC and NFL. Groza is an inductee of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, honored in the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor, and he retired his #76 jersey.
2. Browns’ former running back, JIM BROWN
This man lets his achievements talk for himself. Brown is the team’s running back for nine years, and was considered as one of the greatest pro athletes in the history of United States. Jim Brown is a multi-athlete. He not only gained success in football, he was also a good player in basketball, track and field, and also lacrosse. He is a member of the Lacross Hall of Fame. In his football career, Brown was rated 2nd in NFL Player of All Time at NFL.com. Brown is an inductee of Pro Football Hall of Fame, played Pro-Bowl nine times, played eight times in First Team All-Pro, three time NFL MVP, three time Pro Bowl MVP, part of the 1960’s All Decade Team, 1964 NFL Champion, honored in the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor, and retired his #32 jersey. All of that, was just a summary of his achievements!
1. Browns’ former quarterback, OTTO GRAHAM
Otto Graham played for the Browns for a total of nine years. In his time with them, he gave the Browns a total of seven championship games, both AAFC and NFL. Also a cross-trained athlete, from basketball to football, Graham gained sport stardom and success when Paul Brown signed him up to play for the Browns. He played Pro-Bowl five times, played seven times in the First Team All-Pro, a two time AAFC MVP, a three time UPI NFL MVP, 1950 Pro-Bowl MVP, part of NFL 1950’s All Decade Team, and inductee of the College Football Hall of Fame in year 1955, honored in the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor, and retired his #14 jersey, and lastly, one of the 280 inductees of Pro Football Hall of Fame.