NFL playoffs start this weekend, which makes it a perfect time to look back at one of the most important figures in American football: Paul Brown. A brand-new biography tells the story of the "father of the modern offense," the man who founded two NFL teams, invented facemasks and on-field radio communications, and not incidentally, was a major part of integrating professional football.
We follow Brown from his schoolboy days in Ohio, as college player and coach, and as Vice President, General Manager, and first coach of the very first Cleveland Browns (yes, named in his honor!) squad in 1946. His teams were peerless: they won championships their first four years, including the undefeated season of 1948, before merging into the NFL in 1950. There, they continued successful play against well-established teams...until Art Modell came along and purchased the team in 1961. Modell fired Brown after the 1962 season and although they won the 1964 championship, they have never appeared in the Super Bowl since.
So much did Modell's firing hurt Brown that he left the game entirely for the next few years. In 1967, he founded and coached the expansion Cincinnati Bengals (note the shared "CB" initials with his former team, the Cleveland Browns), who play today in Paul Brown Stadium. Brown died in 1991, but is widely considered a cornerstone of today's NFL. A true original, a coach for the ages, and a great new book for football fans.