Approximately 40 minutes southeast of Cleveland, Hudson, Ohio is famous for a clock tower that has long stood as a beacon in the center of town.
Hudson is also famous for having produced a Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver in Dante Lavelli, whose career with the Browns has long stood as a beacon to every young person growing up in that community who wants to reach for the stars.
Lavelli, who was born Feb. 23, 1923 in Hudson, played all of his football in Ohio, first at Hudson High School (from which he graduated in 1941), then at Ohio State, where he was a member of that school’s first national championship team in 1942, and finally with the Browns.
He played on the Browns’ first 11 teams, from 1946-56, and made it to the league championship game in the first 10 seasons, winning seven times. Four of those titles came in the All-America Football Conference, from 1946-49, and then there were three crowns in the NFL in 1950, ’54 and ’55.
Lavelli was a major part of that success, teaming with Hall-of-Fame quarterback Otto Graham and wide receiver Mac Speedie, a Cleveland Browns Legend, to dazzle foes with the most sophisticated passing attack the game had ever seen. It was, in fact, the forerunner of today’s West Coast and spread offenses.
The fact Lavelli played with the Browns just a year after Graham retired was no coincidence. The two were joined at the hip, indelibly linked.
Lavelli had 386 receptions overall, including 244 in seven NFL seasons, for a total of 6,488 yards and 62 touchdowns.
The Browns’ official career statistics include only those seasons played in the NFL, but if his overall numbers were recognized, then Lavelli would be second in receptions, receiving yards and touchdown catches.
And he did all that -- in the NFL at least -- in 12-game seasons.
Lavelli’s nickname was “Glue Fingers,” and with good reason, for he caught nearly everything that touched his hands.
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