This Day in Browns History - Feb. 4

Posted Feb 4, 2013

In this feature, looks back to the day Kurt Burris decided to forgo the NFL experience for the U.S. Navy.

The NFL -- and, more specifically, the Browns -- wanted Kurt Burris.

So did his country.                                                                        

The country won out.

Burris, a center/linebacker from Oklahoma, was the Browns’ first-round pick in the 1955 NFL Draft, at No. 13 overall.

But it was on Feb. 4, 1956 that Burris, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1954, announced he would not be signing with the Browns because he was about to be inducted into the Navy.

Ironically, Browns head coach Paul Brown had drafted Burris to replace Tom Catlin, Cleveland’s starting left linebacker in 1954, who was already in the Navy. Cleveland Benedictine High School and University of Dayton product Chuck Noll had played that spot in 1955 as the Browns won their second straight NFL championship and third in six years.

As it turned out, Noll stayed at left linebacker for the Browns through 1957, then moved to offense to become Brown’s messenger guard.

And Burris did end up playing pro football as well, spending five years in the Canadian Football League with first the Edmonton Eskimos and then the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders. He won two Grey Cup titles while with the Eskimos.

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