Otto Graham Cleveland Browns
"Pro football is no game for weaklings – everyone knows that. The men are rugged, they play hard, but they play clean. When men get into big time football, they’re good enough not to have to play dirty. We love the game and we believe football competition, as well as all sports competition, makes high types of men.”
When Paul Brown began organizing the Cleveland Browns team to play in the new All-America Football Conference (AAFC), the first player he signed was Otto Graham, a tailback from Northwestern University. Brown eyed Graham as the perfect quarterback for his new pro team.
Graham planned to concentrate on basketball at Northwestern. He was "discovered" playing intra-mural football as a freshman and although he became a fine passer in three varsity seasons, he had no experience in the T-formation. Brown never wavered in his decision. "Otto has the basic requirements of a T-quarterback – poise, ball-handling and distinct qualities of leadership."
It turned out the coach was right. Once Graham joined the Browns, he not only quickly mastered the mechanics of the T but he became the heart of a dynamic football machine. With Graham at the controls, the Browns won four straight AAFC titles and compiled an awesome 52-4-3 record.
Still, pro football "experts" theorized Otto and the Browns would get their comeuppance once they faced the NFL in 1950, but both the quarterback and the team proved more than equal to the occasion. In the Browns' 30-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the 1950 NFL Championship Game, Graham threw four touchdown passes.
His finest title-game performance came four years later when he scored three touchdowns and threw for a trio of scores in a 56-10 lacing of Detroit. Graham retired after that game but responded to Paul Brown's SOS early in 1955. In the final game of his career, the NFL championship against the Los Angeles Rams, he ran for two touchdowns and passed for two more in a 38-14 victory. For the ninth time in 10 seasons, Otto was named first-team all-league quarterback.
While Graham was guiding the Browns, Cleveland played in 10 straight title games and had four AAFC and three NFL championships.