A lucky 13?
It turned out that way for the Browns -- and quarterback Brian Sipe.
It was 41 years ago today, on Feb. 2, 1972, that the 1972 NFL Draft concluded with rounds eight through 17, and Sipe, a little-known player from San Diego State who was thought by many to be too small to play in the NFL at a listed 6-foot-1 and 195 pounds, was almost an afterthought when he was picked in the 13th round.
Yes, that’s right, Sipe, who owns most of the Browns’ passing records and is one of the most popular players the team has ever had, was drafted four rounds from the bottom.
At the time, probably the bigger news that day in 1972 for the Browns was that they used their 11th-round draft choice to take a player from the region in linebacker Mel Long from Toledo (Ohio) Macomber High School and the University of Toledo.
Long made the people in Northwest Ohio proud, beating the odds and winning a roster spot on a team that would go on to finish 10-4 and claim the AFC’s lone wild-card playoff spot. He played three years in all, through 1974, mostly as a backup and on special teams.
Meanwhile, the selection of Sipe flew under the radar not just then, but for a while, as he spent his first two years in the NFL on the taxi squad, the forerunner of today’s practice squad. He finally made the regular roster in 1974, became the starter in the second game of the 1976 season after Mike Phipps suffered a separated shoulder, and in 1980 set club records by passing for 4,132 yards and 30 touchdowns in leading the Kardiac Kids Browns to an 11-5 record and their first AFC Central title in nine years.
For his performance that year, Sipe earned the NFL Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first Cleveland player to do so since Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown in his final season of 1965.
Sipe, who played 10 NFL seasons, through 1983, is the Browns’ career passing leader with 23,713 yards, 154 touchdowns, 1,944 completions and 3,439 attempts.
Interestingly enough, Dave Logan, one of Sipe’s favorite targets, was born on this date, Feb. 2, in 1954 in Fargo, N.D. A tremendous baseball player in high school in Colorado, and an excellent basketball player at Colorado University, he was drafted professionally in both sports as well as by the Browns in the third round in 1976.
Logan was played out of position at tight end in his first two seasons, but his career blossomed in 1978 when Sam Rutigliano took over as head coach and moved him to wide receiver. He led the team in receptions (59) and receiving yards (982) in 1979, and his 46-yard touchdown catch with 16 seconds left beat the Green Bay Packers 26-21 at Cleveland midway through the 1980 season and is regarded as the key play on the Browns’ march to the division crown that year.
Logan finished his career with 262 receptions for 4,247 yards (seventh-best in Browns history), a 16.2 yards-per-catch average (tied for sixth) and 24 touchdowns (eighth).
Logan is now the longtime radio play-by-play voice of the Denver Broncos.
This same day in Browns history is brought to you today by Cleveland Clinic. With 27 locations, world class care is always near you. Call 855-411-DAWG for a same-day appointment.