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"I was as big as the linemen I ran against, so I didn’t worry about them. And once I ran over a back twice, I didn’t have to run over him a third time. He had reservations by then.”
(South Carolina State)...6'1'', 232...Marion Motley. . .Deadly pass blocker, peerless runner on Browns' famed trap play. . .Also played linebacker early in career. . .All-time AAFC rushing champ. . .Top NFL rusher, 1950. . .All-AAFC four years, All-NFL in 1950. . .Lifetime rushing: 828 carriers, 4,720 yards. . .5.7-yard career average all-time record. . .Caught 85 passes, scored 234 points in nine years. . .Played in 1951 Pro Bowl. . .Born June 5, 1920, in Leesburg, Georgia. . . Died June 27, 1999, at age of 79.
In 1946, one year before Jackie Robinson signed with baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers, four players smashed pro football’s race barrier. The trailblazers were Marion Motley and Bill Willis, who signed with the Cleveland Browns of the new All-America Football Conference, and Kenny Washington and Woody Strode, who signed with the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams. Injuries ended Washington’s career after three seasons, while Strode played just the 1946 season.
Motley and Willis, however, went on to have Hall of Fame careers. Motley joined the Browns as a 26-year-old rookie. Browns’ coach Paul Brown was already familiar with Motley, having coached the big fullback at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station during World War II.
He also knew Motley from his high school playing days in Canton, Ohio. Paul coached football at neighboring Massillon High School. Motley, with his powerful running on Cleveland's famed trap and draw series, made the Browns' ground game go, but he is also credited with vital contributions to the Cleveland passing attack, because his blocking for quarterback Otto Graham was exceptional.
At 6-1 and 232 pounds, Motley was an imposing figure. The constant threat of him hurtling up the middle kept the defenses honest. Marion was the AAFC's all-time rushing leader and also led the NFL in ground gaining in his initial season in the league in 1950. That year, in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the powerful Motley rushed for 188 yards on just 11 carries for a 17.1 yards-per-carry average.
In his nine professional seasons, he amassed 4,720 yards on 828 carries for an amazing 5.7 yards-per-carry average. When he retired Marion held a host of Browns' club records. In addition to be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1968, Motley was named in 1994 to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
1946 AAFC – Cleveland Brown 14, New York Yankees 9
Motley started as fullback. He had 13 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown.
1947 AAFC – Cleveland Browns 14, New York Yankees 3
Motley started as fullback. He had 13 carries for 109 yards and one punt return for two yards.
1948 AAFC – Cleveland Browns 49, Buffalo Bills 7
Motley started as fullback. He had 14 carries for 133 yards including TD runs of runs of 29, 31, and 5 yards. He also had one reception for 13 yards.
1949 AAFC – Cleveland Browns 21, San Francisco 49ers 7
Motley started as fullback. He had 13 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown run of 63 yards.
1950 NFL – Cleveland Browns 30, Los Angeles Rams 28
Motley started at fullback. He carried the ball six times for nine yards and caught a pass for minus two yards.
1951 NFL – Los Angeles Rams 24, Cleveland Browns 17
Motley started at fullback. He carried the ball five times for 23 yards. He also caught one pass for 23 yards.
1952 NFL – Detroit Lions 17, Cleveland Browns 7
Motley played but did not start. He ran the ball six times for 74 yards and had three receptions for 21 yards.
1953 NFL – Detroit Lions 17, Cleveland Browns 16
Motley played but did not start. He had no carries in the game.
All-NFL: 1950 (AP, UPI, NY)
All-Pro: 1948 (AP, SN)
All-Pro Second Team: 1946 (AP), 1947 (AP)
All-AAFC: 1946 (UPI, NY, OA) • 1947 (NY, OA) • 1948 (UPI, NY, OA) • 1949 (NY)
All-AAFC Second Team: 1949 (UPI, OA)
(1) – 1951
Browns’ records held by Motley
(Records through the 1953 season, Motley’s final season with Cleveland)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 826
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 157 (1948)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 27 (vs. Washington, Nov. 19, 1950)
• [1st] Most Yards Rushing, Career – 4,712
• [1st] Most Yards Rushing, Season – 964 (1948)
• [1st] Most Yards, Gained, Rushing, Game – 188 (vs. Pittsburgh, Oct. 29, 1950)
• [1st] Longest Run From Scrimmage – 76 (vs. Buffalo, Nov. 24, 1946)
• [1st] Most Kickoff Returns, Game – 5 (vs. San Francisco, Oct. 9, 1949)
League Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1948A, 1950
Team Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1946A, 1947A, 1948A, 1949A, 1950, 1952
Kickoff Return Titles: 1949
A All-America Football Conference
• 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
• 75th Anniversary All-Two-Way Team
• 1940’s All-Decade Team
Full name: Marion Motley
Birthdate: June 5, 1920
Birthplace: Leesburg, Georgia
Died: June 27, 1999 in Cleveland, Ohio
High School: McKinley (Canton, OH)
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 3, 1968
Presenter: Bill Willis, former Cleveland Browns teammate
Other Members of the Class of 1968: Cliff Battles, Art Donovan, Elroy Hirsch, Wayne Millner, Charley Trippi, Alex Wojciechowicz
Pro Career: 9 Seasons, 106 Games
Drafted: Not drafted. Signed as a free agent with Cleveland Browns in 1946.
Transactions: Sept. 7, 1955 – Motley traded by Cleveland Browns to Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for fullback Ed Modzelewski.
Uniform Number: #76 (also wore #36 for a brief period of his career).