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"The Greatest" really is the greatest

Posted Apr 25, 2013

The results of the voting in the Browns' Greatest Value Pick-Up Contest, Driven by Liberty Ford, prove it.

As it turns out, "the greatest" really is the greatest.

Still.

And the results of the voting in the Browns’ Greatest Value Pick-Up Contest, Driven by Liberty Ford, prove it.

Running back Jim Brown was selected by fans as the greatest value pick the Browns have ever made in the NFL Draft.

Brown received 136 of the 332 votes cast (41 percent) in an contest conducted on ClevelandBrowns.com over the past several weeks.

Voters were asked to pick not necessarily the best Browns draft pick ever, but rather the best "value" pick from a list of 10 players the team provided. That is, where through history have the Browns gotten the best value for the spot where a particular player was selected.

Brown, who played his entire career (1957-65) with the Browns, is regarded by a number of football experts and historians as the greatest player in the game's history. Yet the Syracuse product was not the No. 1 overall pick in the 1957 NFL Draft. Instead, that honor went to Notre Dame quarterback Paul Hornung, who was drafted by the Green Bay Packers and converted to running back.

Nor was Brown the second choice, or the third, or the fourth, or even the fifth. He was taken at No. 6.

So to get the best player ever in a draft when there were five other players taken ahead of him makes Brown the value of all value picks in team history.

Brown obliterated every NFL rushing record that existed at the time. He gained 1,000 yards in seven of his nine seasons, and missed by just four yards in one of the other years, 1962, when he was tackled for a loss late in the season finale at San Francisco after he had already surpassed 1,000. That was also the only year that he did not lead the league in rushing.

Playing in just a 12-game season in 1958, Brown set a record with 1,527 yards. He shattered that mark with 1,863 yards in 1963, averaging a career-high 6.4 yards per carry, and had 1,544 two years later in his final season.

He finished with 12,312 yards, averaging 5.2 yards per attempt, and ran for 106 touchdowns. He also caught 262 passes for 20 touchdowns.

Fellow Pro Football Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik, a linebacker with the Philadelphia Eagles who played against Brown, called the Cleveland star "the closest thing there's ever been to Superman on a football field. He's faster than everybody else. He’s stronger and more powerful than everybody else. And he's nearly indestructible."

Indeed, Brown never missed a game, and rarely did he miss a play.

Brown was just 30 and at the top of his game when he announced his retirement just before the start of training camp in 1966 to make movies.

Finishing second in the Browns' Greatest Value Pick-Up Contest, Driven by Liberty Ford, was quarterback Brian Sipe.

Taken in the 13th round – four spots from the bottom of the draft – in 1972 out of San Diego State, Sipe did not even make the regular roster in those first two years, being relegated to the taxi squad, the forerunner of today's practice squad.

Sipe ended up playing nine seasons (1974-83), and in 1980, he broke nearly every team passing record by throwing for 4,132 yards and 30 touchdowns in leading the Kardiac Kids to an 11-5 record and the Browns' first AFC Central title in nine years.

Sipe, who also tops most of the club's career passing lists, was named the NFL's Most Valuable Player in 1980, being the first Brown to be so honored since Jim Brown in 1965.

With the way the Browns' Greatest Value Pick-Up Contest, Driven by Liberty Ford, played out, that seems fitting.