Paul Eugene Brown (September 7, 1908 – August 5, 1991) was an American football coach in the All-America Football Conference and National Football League. Brown was the first coach of the Cleveland Browns, a team named after him, and later played a role in founding the Cincinnati Bengals. His teams won seven league championships in a professional coaching career spanning 25 seasons.
Brown began his coaching career at Severn School in 1931 before becoming the head football coach at Massillon Washington High School in Massillon, Ohio, where he grew up. His high school teams lost only 10 games in 11 seasons. He was then hired at Ohio State University and coached the school to its first national football championship in 1942. After World War II, he became head coach of the Browns, who won four AAFC championships before joining the NFL in 1950. Brown coached the Browns to three NFL championships – in 1950, 1954 and 1955 – but was fired in January 1963 amid a power struggle with team owner Art Modell. Brown in 1968 co-founded and was the first coach of the Bengals. He retired from coaching in 1975 but remained the Bengals' team president until his death in 1991. The Bengals named their home stadium Paul Brown Stadium in honor of Brown. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
Brown is credited with a number of American football innovations. He was the first coach to use game film to scout opponents, hire a full-time staff of assistants, and test players on their knowledge of a playbook. He invented the modern face mask, the taxi squad and the draw play. He also played a role in breaking professional football's color barrier, bringing some of the first African-Americans to play pro football in the modern era onto his teams. Despite these accomplishments, Brown was not universally liked. He was strict and controlling, which often brought him into conflict with players who wanted a greater say in play-calling. These disputes, combined with Brown's failure to consult Modell on major personnel decisions, led to his firing as the Browns' coach in 1963.
By Dean Hanley
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