Paul Brown (September 7, 1908 - August 5, 1991) A seminal figure in American football history, Brown is considered the "father of the modern offense," with many also adding that he ranks as the greatest football coach in history. Such claims are backed by significant evidence: Brown dominated as a gridiron general on every major level -- high school, college, and professional. Born in Norwalk, Ohio, Brown graduated from Washington High School in Massillon, Ohio in 1925.
Originally intending to play for Ohio State University, he found his 135-pound frame would not stand the rigors of major college football, and transferred to Miami University of Ohio. In 1930, he graduated from the school with a B.A. in Education after having played quarterback for the Redskins. He would complete his academic career in 1940 when he received an M.A. in Education from The Ohio State University.
As his academic pursuits may allude to, Brown was as much a teacher as he was a coach. His coaching career began in 1930 at the Naval Academy's Severn School, in Severna Park, Maryland.
Tasting success with a 16-1-1 mark in two seasons st Severn, Brown gave up a brief attempt at law school to return home to Ohio, where he spent the next nine years posting an 80-8-2 record as coach of his hometown Washington High Tigers. After his first three years, he had improved the fortunes of the Tigers, but still had problems with the team's bitter rival, Canton McKinley High School, losing all three meetings. However, he rectified the problem by not only ending that frustrating losing streak, but also winning 58 of the next 60 contests. During this period, his achievements also helped build a new stadium for the high school that seated 20,000 people, and drew crowds that were only surpassed by those at Ohio State University.
With avid support from an influential group of people, Brown moved into the college ranks by becoming head coach of those same Ohio State Buckeyes in 1941. Under Brown, the Buckeyes went 18-8-1 (1941-43), with his only loss during that first season coming against Northwestern University and their running back Otto Graham. The following year, Brown led the Buckeyes to the university's first National championship in 1942, but was unable to sustain that success when World War II depleted his talented corps of players the following year.
After Brown was re-classified 1-A in February 1944, he entered the Navy and served at the Great Lakes Naval Station, putting together a mark of 15-5-2 during the final two years of World War II. After the war, Brown once again returned home to Ohio, becoming the first head coach for Arthur 'Mickey' McBride's new All America Football Conference franchise, the Cleveland Browns -- Such was his popularity that the team was named in his honor following a poll taken in the Cleveland Plain Dealer.