CLEVELAND -- Thousands have played, but few have become Legends.
And the Cleveland Browns Legends posthumously welcomed its two newest members, linebacker Galen Fiss (1956-65) and offensive guard Abe Gibron (1950-56), in the City View Club at FirstEnergy Stadium Saturday.
Fiss was presented for induction by his former teammate, fellow Legend Vince Costello, and represented by his son, Bob.
“I would describe Galen the football player as a team guy; he was team first,” Bob Fiss said of his father. “He loved his teammates. He loved the concept of team play. He loved the concept of camaraderie in the locker room and on the field, and how they’d help each other out, lift each other up and support each other. He made a lot of lifelong friends in Cleveland.”
Fiss was from Johnson, Kansas, a small town of 800 people, and was born during the Dust Bowl out West. He went to the University of Kansas and later joined the United States Air Force, where he became a Lieutenant.
Following his military service, Fiss actually tried out for the Cleveland Indians baseball team, but the Browns, who had drafted him before the United States needed his help in defense of the country, kept track of their future defensive captain.
“We’re very proud of this honor for him,” Bob Fiss recalled. “But I can assure you, the people sitting out here have known Galen as a legendary and Hall-of-Fame father and grandfather for many, many, many years. We love him, we miss him and wish he was here tonight, but we want to thank the Browns for remembering him for a long ways future.”
After joining the Browns, Fiss went on to make one of the biggest plays in their 27-0 win over the Baltimore Colts in the 1964 NFL Championship when he registered a solo, open-field tackle of Hall of Fame running back Lenny Moore.
“Galen was probably the best captain I’ve ever been associated with in my 20 years of football. He was a leader by example,” said Dick Schafrath, himself a Browns Legend. “He had Lenny Moore, one-on-one, and that was between the goal line and Galen, and he made a tackle. I thought that was an inspirational thing for the whole team to see that happen. Galen was just outstanding.”
Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown added, “What I remember was Galen breaking through the line and tackling the great Lenny Moore. That was an unbelievable tackle. It was about a seven-yard loss for Lenny Moore, and it set the standard for a defense that did not allow the Colts to score. Galen deserves this, and I’m happy to say that play is the thing I remember most about the Championship Game.”
Gibron was a two-time All-NFL selection and earned trips to four straight Pro Bowls from 1953-56. He played in 84 games with the Browns, during which time, the team compiled a 63-20-1 record, won six division championships and three NFL titles.
A famed “messenger guard” for Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown, Gibron lined up between two Hall of Fame players, Lou Groza and center Frank “Gunner” Gatski. Together, “The G Men” blocked for Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham and halfback Marion Motley.
A United States Marine who served in World War II, Gibron was presented for induction by Browns Legend Doug Dieken, whom he helped negotiate his first professional contract with the Browns, and the honor was accepted by his son, Cal.
“If he were here tonight, he would be extremely proud of this honor,” Cal Gibron said. “He’d be very proud of the success and the accomplishments he and his teammates had in the 1950s. He’d be very proud of the recognition he received.
“What meant the most to him was the people. For many of your former players, it’s the camaraderie, it’s the friendships you made, the building of relationships and the memories you create. That’s what was most important to him.”
During the presentation, former Browns radio announcer Jim Mueller read a quote attributed to Gibron.
“People say you’re crazy if you tell them the majority of the pro players are in the game for the sheer enjoyment of playing football,” Mueller recalled from Gibron. “I say it’s true. A fellow doesn’t have to take the kind of beating we take every week. There are other ways to make a living. We do it because we like it.”