Just miles away from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, a crowd of several hundred students, family members, the Massillon, Ohio community, Hall of Fame staff, and Allstate representatives gathered Monday to recognize and remember . The legendary Hall of Fame coach was honored with a “Hometown Hall of Famer™” plaque dedication ceremony presented by the Pro Football Hall of Fame and Allstate Insurance Company.
The event took place at Massillon High School, a campus that includes a football stadium which bears Brown’s name. Brown, who coached the and later the Cincinnati Bengals
, began his football coaching career at the former Massillon Washington High School coach.
On hand to accept the plaque in his father’s memory was Mike Brown, president of the Bengals. ’s legacy was also recognized and remembered by speakers including Walt Bronczek, Massillon Tigers football announcer; Jeff Thornberry, a Massillon Washington High School alumnus and former athletic director at the school; Brian Walsh, Allstate Insurance representative; and Tom Schervish, Pro Football Hall of Fame Chairman of the Board of Trustees. Rich with football history from Brown’s playing and coaching days, the plaque will live permanently at Massillon Washington High School where it all began for one of pro football’s most impactful coaches. The plaque will serve as an inspiration to the community and a reminder that Massillon is already a part of the Pro Football Hall of Fame neighborhood.
“When a reporter asked my father after he had retired what his favorite job was, he didn’t respond with working for the Bengals or Browns, he said coaching at Massillon,” said Mike Brown. “It wasn’t about how many games or championships he won, it mattered more about how he could make an impact off the field and he did that here in Massillon and for pro football.”
Students and guests had an opportunity to hear how made an impact in Massillon and on a national level by bringing the classroom, playbook and film study to football and developing the widespread use of the single bar facemask.
“This isn’t just making Massillon an extension of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, it’s honoring the community where football was truly modernized,” said Schervish.
In addition to the plaque, a commemorative “Hometown Hall of Famer™” road sign will be on display in the Massillon community.
“To be a part of a program that brings the prestige and tradition of the Pro Football Hall of Fame to communities like Massillon is an honor for Allstate, our agents and employees,” said Lisa Cochrane, Allstate’s senior vice president of marketing.
As the first head coach of the and the Cincinnati Bengals, and as the founder and owner of the Cincinnati franchise, Brown is credited for making pro football coaching the exact science it is today. When Brown organized the in the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946, he hired a full-time staff on a year-round basis and instituted a system for scouting college talent on a scale never before imagined by other pro teams. In 17 seasons from 1946 to 1962 with the Browns, he posted a 167-53-8 record, winning four AAFC titles and three NFL crowns. He led the expansion Bengals to the playoffs three times during his eight seasons as the team’s coach from 1968 to 1975. Brown remained as an active owner and general manager of the Bengals through his death in 1991.
As a coach, Brown was one of the game’s innovators who also helped break the color barrier in pro football in 1946, when he brought future Hall of Famers Marion Motley
and Bill Willis
to the Browns. Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.
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