LEN FORD

LEN FORD

Class of 1976
Defensive End >>> 6-4, 245
(Morgan State, Michigan)
1948-1949 Los Angeles Dons (AAFC), 1950-1957 Cleveland Browns, 1958 Green Bay Packers

Leonard Guy Ford, Jr. . .Caught 67 passes as two-way end with Dons, 1948-1949. . .After AAFC folded, Browns converted him to full-time defensive end, altered defenses to take advantage of his exceptional pass-rushing skills. . . Overcame serious injuries in 1950 to earn All-NFL honors five times, 1951-1955. . .Played in four Pro Bowls. . .Recovered 20 opponents' fumbles in career. . . Born February 18, 1926, in Washington, D.C.. . .Died March 14, 1972, at age of 46.

Len Ford joined the Los Angeles Dons of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1948 as a two-way end. He was excellent on defense and a favorite on offense with leaping, one-hand grabs that netted 67 receptions in two years.

When the AAFC disbanded after the 1949 season, Ford was placed in a special draft pool. The Cleveland Browns, who earmarked him for their defensive platoon, quickly grabbed him. It wasn't long before Ford was recognized as the very best of many stars on a unit that allowed the fewest points of any NFL team six of seven years in the 1951-1957 period.

Ford developed into such a devastating pass rusher that the Browns changed their whole defensive alignment to take advantage of his rare talents. By using the linebackers behind the two ends and a pair of tackles, Cleveland in effect created the first 4-3 defense. This enabled Ford to line up closer to the ball-handling action and have a better shot at enemy quarterbacks.

A serious injury almost ended Ford's career in his first NFL season. When hit by the elbow of Cardinals fullback Pat Harder, Ford suffered a broken nose, two fractured cheekbones and several lost teeth. Len was counted out for the season but plastic surgery, a strenuous rehabilitation program and the use of a specially designed face mask made it possible for Ford to return for the 1950 title game with the Los Angeles Rams. Len responded with one of his finest games to help Cleveland to a razor-thin 30-28 victory. Ford, who recovered 20 opponents' fumbles in nine NFL seasons, was a first- or second-team All-NFL pick seven times. He also played in four consecutive Pro Bowls. In the 1954 NFL championship game against Detroit, he intercepted two passes as the Browns buried the Lions, 56-10.

Year
Team
G
FumRec.
Yds.
TD
1950 Cleveland
5
1
0
0
1951 Cleveland
12
4
16
0
1952 Cleveland
12
2
0
1
1953 Cleveland
12
3
0
0
1954 Cleveland
12
5
0
0
1955 Cleveland
12
1
54
0
1956 Cleveland
12
2
0
0
1957 Cleveland
11
1
4
0
1958 Green Bay
11
1
5
0
Career Total
99
20
79
1
Full Name: Leonard Guy Ford, Jr.

Birthdate: February 18, 1926

Birthplace: Washington, D.C.

Died: March 14, 1972

High School:
Armstrong (Washington, D.C.)

Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame:
January 17, 1976

Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame:
July 24, 1976

Presenter: Theodore W. McIntyre, Ford's coach at Armstrong H.S.

Other Members of Class of 1976: Ray Flaherty, Jim Taylor

Pro Career: 11 seasons, 125 games

Drafted: 3rd round (14th player overall) of AAFC Draft in 1948 by Los Angeles Dons

Uniform Number: 80, (50, 53, 83)

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