DANTE LAVELLI

DANTE LAVELLI

Class of 1975
End >>> 6-0, 191
(Ohio State)
1946-1956 Cleveland Browns (AAFC/NFL)

Dante Bert Joseph Lavelli. . .Played only three college games, served in U.S. Infantry before turning pro. . .Top AAFC receiver as rookie, scored winning TD in title game, 1946. . . Caught 11 passes in 1950 NFL championship. . .All-AAFC, 1946-1947. . .All-NFL, 1951, 1953. . . In three Pro Bowls. . . Caught 386 passes for 6,488 yards, 62 TDs. . . Had record 24 catches in six NFL title games. . .Nicknamed "Gluefingers". . .Born February 23, 1923, in Hudson, Ohio. . .Died January 20, 2009, at age of 85.

Dante Lavelli, a quarterback in high school and a halfback as an Ohio State freshman, was switched to end by Buckeye coach Paul Brown before his sophomore season. Yet, when Dante joined the newly formed Cleveland Browns in 1946, injuries and a long stint in the U. S. Army had limited his college experience to just three games.

To make the Browns, he had to beat out four more experienced and highly regarded candidates. But Dante not only prevailed, he led the league in receptions and won All-AAFC honors in his rookie season. He also caught the winning touchdown pass in the first AAFC championship game between the Browns and the New York Yankees.

There were many more high moments in Lavelli's career. He was All-AAFC again in 1947 and, when the Browns moved to the NFL, he was all-league twice more and a starter in three of the first five Pro Bowl games. In the 1950 NFL Championship Game, Dante caught 11 passes, then a record, and scored two touchdowns as the Browns edged the Los Angeles Rams, 30-28.

Lavelli was a favorite target of the Browns’ great quarterback, Otto Graham. All but 20 of Dante's 386 career receptions came while Otto was at the Cleveland helm. Like any great pass-catch team, the two spent long hours learning the other's every habit. Dante was a dedicated pattern-runner but once there was a hint things weren't going right, he preferred to take off down the field and yell for the ball. More than once, his penetrating voice provided a homing signal for Graham and the combination clicked for a long touchdown. What set Lavelli apart from all other receivers were his great hands. When Dante went up for a pass in a crowd, you could be sure "Gluefingers" would come down with the ball.

Year
Team
G
No.
Yds.
Avg.
TD
1946 Cleveland (AAFC)
14
40
843
21.1
8
1947 Cleveland (AAFC)
13
49
799
16.3
9
1948 Cleveland (AAFC)
8
25
463
18.5
5
1949 Cleveland (AAFC)
9
28
475
17.0
7
1950 Cleveland
12
37
565
15.3
5
1951 Cleveland
12
43
586
13.6
6
1952 Cleveland
8
21
336
16.0
4
1953 Cleveland
12
45
783
17.4
6
1954 Cleveland
12
47
802
17.1
7
1955 Cleveland
12
31
492
15.9
4
1956 Cleveland
11
20
344
17.2
1
AAFC Total
44
142
2580
18.2
29
NFL Total
79
244
3908
16.0
33
Career Total
123
386
6488
17.1
62
Full Name: Dante Bert Joseph Lavelli

Birthdate: February 23, 1923

Birthplace: Hudson, Ohio

Died: January 20, 2009

High School: Hudson (Ohio)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: January 11, 1975

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 2, 1975

Presenter: Paul Brown, Lavelli's coach with Browns

Other Members of Class of 1975: Roosevelt Brown, George Connor, Lenny Moore

Pro Career:
11 seasons, 123 games

Drafted: 12th round (103rd overall) in 1947 by Los Angeles Rams

Uniform Number: 86, (56)

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