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Paul Brown: The Rise and Fall and Rise Again of Football's Most Innovative Coach Paperback – 3 Sep 2009
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He was also known as an innovator. Among his innovations are messenger guards, radio transmitters in helmets, face guards, advance scouts, zone play defense and playbooks.
He sought players, whether at the college level or professional level, who loved the game, were passionate and enthusiastic. He also wanted the best players; it didn't matter what their skin color was. He was at the forefront of integration on the football field.
For all of his brilliance, Brown wasn't an easy man to get along with. His demanded complete control and he was a perfectionist. He was open to suggestions, particularly from his players, and he didn't take criticism well. He had little use for administrators, owners or anyone else who wasn't a "football man."
As an example, while he was coaching Ohio State, he said, "If a boy is hurt, I will go on the field and determine if he comes out of the game."
After winning four consecutive AAFC titles, the Browns joined the NFL in 1950. Although the NFL had considered the AAFC a "two-bit" league, the Browns went 10-2 in their first season in the NFL and beat the Rams in the championship game.
Brown never got along with Browns owner Art Modell, who didn't have a football background. Modell took away some of Brown's power and became friendly with some of the players and encouraged them to break Brown's rules. He was too outgoing and meddling for Brown. Modell also sided with Jim Brown, who challenged Brown's authority. Modell fired Brown after the 1962 season.
After a few years out of the game, Brown came back as a principal owner, general manager and coach of the expansion Cincinnati Bengals on the condition that he would have total control. Brown had difficulty accepting the new generation of football players, the Players Association, lawsuits, strikes and agents. He also earned a reputation as a miser, often cutting corners and shortchanging players.
With Brown as the general manager, the Bengals did go to the Super Bowl in 1981 and 1988. He died on August 5, 1991, at the age of 82.
Author Andrew O'Toole does an excellent job of covering Brown's career and painting a portrait of him, warts and all. He avoids getting bogged down in the game details of the individual seasons, choosing to focus on the big picture.
Brown is perhaps a little underappreciated for his innovations and success. This biography is a great opportunity for football fans of all ages to learn more about him.
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