Although he was hired the previous year and wouldn’t coach his first regular-season game for more than six months, March 2, 1946, was still a big day for Paul Brown.
That was when he left the Navy as World War II was winding down and took over full-time duties as coach and general manager of the start-up Browns.
Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown coached 17 years for the Browns, guiding them to 11 league championship games and seven titles. He was at his best in the first 10 seasons from 1946-55, as the Browns played in 10 consecutive league title contests and won all seven crowns, including four in a row in the All-America Football Conference from 1946-49 and then three in the NFL in 1950, ’54 and ’55.
Before he came to the Browns, Brown had coached at Ohio State, leading the Buckeyes to their first national championship in 1942. And a former Ohio State great who went on to play for the Browns in 1962, Brown’s final season with the team, is running back Howard “Hopalong” Cassady.
Born March 2, 1934, in Columbus, Ohio, Cassady played at Central High School there and won the Heisman Trophy in 1955. He was taken by Detroit in the first round of the 1956 NFL Draft and played six years with the Lions before splitting the 1962 season with the Browns and Philadelphia Eagles.
He returned to Detroit briefly in 1963 to finish his career.
Cassady is one of six Heisman Trophy winners to have spent time with the Browns as players, joining running backs Ernie Davis (1961 at Syracuse), Charles White (1979, USC) and Rashaan Salaam (1994, Colorado), and quarterbacks Vinny Testaverde (1986, Miami, Fla.) and Ty Detmer (1990, Brigham Young).
In addition, John David Crow, who won the Heisman in 1957 as a running back at Texas A&M, served as a running backs coach with the Browns.
Finally, former Browns linebacker Wayne Meylan was born in Bay City, Mich., on March 2, 1946, the same day that Paul Brown joined the Browns full-time.
Meylan was a fourth-round draft pick of the Browns in 1968 out of Nebraska and was with them for two years, in both of which they made it to the NFL Championship Game, before going to the Minnesota Vikings in 1970 and playing briefly before retiring.
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