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"They talk about the bump-and-run nowadays. Heck, we had that with one difference. A defender didn’t bump you, he knocked you down.”
(Ohio State)...6'0'', 191...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.
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)