In Browns history, March 11 has marked two beginnings -- and an end.
The end -- or so it was thought to be -- came on this date in 1954, when Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham signed his “final” contract, for one year at a salary of $20,000.
Graham -- who had been with the Browns since their inception in 1946, leading them to eight league championship games in as many years, with five titles -- was set to retire at the end of the 1954 season. And after the Browns walloped the Detroit Lions, 56-10, in the NFL Championship Game that year, he did retire ... but only for a while.
Before he went off into retirement, Graham had told head coach Paul Brown to give him a call if the Browns got into trouble at quarterback in 1955. And when things didn’t work out in training camp and the preseason at quarterback, Brown did indeed reach out to Graham. He agreed to return for a 10th season and quarterbacked the club to another title, 38-14, over the Los Angeles Rams, after which he retired again ... this time, for good.
The beginnings? Former Browns defensive tackle Don King, who played for Brown and with Graham in that 1954 season, was born on March 11, 1929, in McBee, S.C. A Kentucky product, King started his NFL career by playing eight games with the Browns that year.
King split time with the Philadelphia Eagles and Green Bay Packers, in 1956, and then didn’t play again until 1960 with the Denver Broncos in the first season of the AFL.
It was also the very beginning for Ralph Tamm, who was born March 11, 1966 in Philadelphia. Although he had been a ninth-round choice in the 1988 NFL Draft by the New York Jets, Tamm’s first NFL season was with the Browns in 1990, as their starting left guard. In 1991, he played briefly with Cleveland and also with the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals.
Tamm was with the San Francisco 49ers from 1992-94, the Denver Broncos in 1995 and ’96, and with the Kansas City Chiefs, from 1997-99 before retiring.