8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
William R. Oliver
- Published on Amazon.com
This is an admirably researched, but unfortunately not annotated or indexed, biography of a very interesting man. The author, to his great credit, presents Brown warts and all, unlike some of the hagiographic stuff you usually see about sports figures. I wish the author had hired a good editor or proof-reader to fix up some of the awkward phrasing and grammar, but it compares well in that regard with many sports books.
The book would have earned another star from me with a summing-up chapter that also followed the Bengals since Brown's death. Interestingly, the book gives some hints of what was in store for Bengals fans by pointing out Brown's stinginess, his antipathy toward agents (and toward players who stood up for themselves), and his failure to make the Bengals a solid organization with a general manager and scouts. The continuing incompetence of the Bengals since Brown's death can be traced directly to his decision to put everything in the hands of his family when he stepped down. As you read about Paul Brown's methods, it becomes clear that Mike Brown is merely operating the team as he thinks his father would operate it. That he is only a pale shadow of his father in terms of football knowledge makes the team the laughing-stock of the NFL.
Paul Brown loved to win (although he may have loved money even more); one wonders how he would have dealt with his family's tarnishing his legend.
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Best Of All
- Published on Amazon.com
The influence Paul Brown continues to have on pro football is enormous, though he passed away in 1991 at the age of 82.
In one of two recently published biographies on Brown, author Andrew O'Toole hits paydirt with a quality play book that highlights the incredible victories and heartbreaking defeats, though - through it all - Brown never wavered in his focus and goals.
Brown - often heralded as, "the father of the modern offense" - came into prominence with the Washington Massillon High School Tigers, taking the helm in 1932 at age 23 and eventually capturing by polls six-consecutive state titles, while amassing a record of 80-8-2 in nine years.
From 1941-1943 at Ohio State, Brown was on the verge of creating a collegiate dynasty, winning the 1942 national championship and leading the Buckeyes to a three-year record of 18-8-1. After coaching the Great Lakes Naval Station Blue Jackets for two years came the foundation to a remarkable 17 years with the Browns.
Though Brown was the "coach in absentee" with Ohio State, he ultimately became part-owner, head coach, vice president and general manager of Cleveland's franchise in the All-America Football Conference. The club garnered its nickname either from heavyweight champion Joe Louis - shortened from a suggestion of the Brown Bombers - or to honor Brown.
The Browns won all four championships in the AAFC, before the league merged with the National Football League, where the team won three titles. Among the innovations Brown introduced to the game during these years were the creation of what is now known as the "West Coast" offense, compiling a game film library, teaching the game in a classroom setting, talking to his quarterbacks through a radio transmitter, using "messenger" guards to relay plays to the offensive huddle, emphasizing safety through the use of face masks on helmets and having a reserve squad (known as a "Taxi squad," because the players drove cabs for co-owner Arthur McBride's Cleveland taxi company).
There is a bright spotlight on January 9, 1963, when Brown was fired by Browns majority owner Art Modell, which was done during a Cleveland newspaper strike. O'Toole writes, "It's a cold world. It's an even colder business. You give your life to something; you devote yourself to this football, but where are you ate the end of the day? You wind up with your possessions stuffed in a couple of cardboard boxes callously dumped outside your office, your old office. Your old office, your old job...Nothing that was, is."
A tenuous relationship during the early years of Modell's ownership, the partnership permanently fractured over running back Ernie Davis, the sensational 1961 Heisman Trophy winner who was a member of the team, but never played due to suffering from leukemia and losing his battle with the disease on May 18, 1963.
Brown refused to play Davis when the cancer was in a brief remission. Depending on the story, this controversial chapter of team history, Modell wanted Davis to only make a brief appearance in a game to honor the player's wish or the majority owner was looking to cash in on his substantial investment in a player who was never going to recover from the disease.
"Each man was a success in his chosen field, but Modell and Brown reached the summit from different points on the map. 'One was from knowledge and experience,' Paul would say later, 'The other from a complete lack of either,'" writes O'Toole.
The five years away from the game found Brown laying the foundation for an expansion team in the American Football League. The Cincinnati Bengals became a reality during a September 26, 1967, announcement by Brown, who would be the club's principal owner, general manager and head coach. Brown stepped down as head coach on January 1, 1976, to become team president.
In 1967, Brown was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio, and two stadiums bear his name: Paul Brown Tiger Stadium in Massillon, and Paul Brown Stadium, in Cincinnati. The players and assistant coaches who later became pro or college head coaches include Bill Walsh, Weeb Ewbank, Chuck Noll, Don Shula, Ara Parseghian and Lou Saban.
O'Toole shows that the greatest pro head coach left a legacy as a teacher, innovator and administrator....Paul Brown.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Charles L. Hall Jr.
- Published on Amazon.com
Found a couple of factual errors at the end of chapter 12. The book says that Ken Anderson was from nearby Batavia, Ohio while he was actually from Batavia, Illinois. There is a Batavia in Ohio near Cincinnati but Anderson is from the one in Illinois. It also says that Mike Reid and Lemar Parrish were part of the 1971 draft. They were in fact drafted in 1970 and both played key roles in the Bengals suprise division championship that season. This is an otherwise very well written and easy to read biography of the man who practically re-invented professional football during the post WW II era.