Mac Curtis Speedie (January 12, 1920 – March 5, 1993) was an American football end who played for the Cleveland Browns in the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and National Football League (NFL) for seven years, and later served for two years as head coach of the American Football League's Denver Broncos. A tall and quick runner whose awkward gait helped him deceive defenders and get open, Speedie led his league in receptions four times during his career and was selected as a first-team All-Pro six times. His career average of 800 yards per season was not surpassed until two decades after his retirement, and his per-game average of 50 yards went unequalled for 20 years after he left the game.
Speedie grew up in Utah, where he overcame Perthes Disease to become a standout as a hurdler on his high school track team and a halfback on the football team. He attended the University of Utah, where he continued to excel at track and football before entering the military in 1942 during World War II. He spent four years in the service before joining the Browns in 1946, where he played as an end opposite quarterback Otto Graham, fullback Marion Motley and fellow receiver Dante Lavelli. The Browns, a new team in the AAFC, won the league championship every year between 1946 and 1949. The Browns merged into the NFL in 1950 after the AAFC disbanded, and Speedie continued to succeed as the team won another league championship. After two more years with the Browns, however, Speedie left the team for the Western Interprovincial Football Union (WIFU) amid a conflict with Paul Brown, Cleveland's head coach. He played two full seasons in the WIFU and one game in a third season before leaving professional football.
Speedie was hired in 1960 as an end coach for the Houston Oilers in the American Football League (AFL). The Oilers won the AFL championship that year, but Speedie left in 1961 after the head coach, former teammate Lou Rymkus, was fired. He then took a job as an assistant for the AFL's Denver Broncos and was promoted to head coach in 1964. His two-year run with the team was unsuccessful, however. After his resignation in 1966, Speedie became a scout for the Broncos, a job he kept until his retirement in 1982. Despite lobbying by friends and former teammates, Speedie was not selected for induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
By Dean Hanley
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