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Browns legend Lou Groza honored with statue

Lou Groza's legacy has been set in stone.

The legendary Browns player was honored Saturday with a statue in his honor by Lou Groza Football, the premier youth football league in the Berea City School District.

"We all know Lou was known to the world as an outstanding football player, a Hall of Fame player … he's in a league of the elite when you think of his accomplishments," Berea Mayor Cyril Kleem said. "But I never knew Lou as a football player. Lou was retired before I was born. I got to know Lou in his later years … Lou was more than a football player; Lou was an all-star human being."

Groza, who spent 21 seasons in Cleveland and was part of the inaugural Browns team in 1946, was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974, helped win four AAFC Championships, four NFL titles and earned nine Pro Bowl nods.

Groza spent the majority of his career as an offensive tackle and kicker, earning the nickname "The Toe" for his kicking success. When the World War II veteran retired in 1967, he held NFL career records for points scored and field goals made.

Groza, whose No. 76 was retired, continued to mentor younger Browns players and became something of an ambassador for the franchise after his playing days. Groza passed away in 2000 and was survived by his wife, Jackie, who later passed in 2010, and four children.

"If Lou could be here this morning, he would be humbled by all the attention but he'd be very appreciative of this honor," said John Groza, the son of Lou and Jackie Groza. "It's befitting this statue is placed in Berea and at this youth stadium. He was born and raised in Martin's Ferry but he always viewed Berea as his home."

Lou Groza Football offers tackle football, flag football and cheerleading for boys and girls from the communities of Berea, Middleburg Heights, and Brook Park.

Lou Groza Field was constructed in 2012 at Roehm Middle School in an effort to honor Groza via a partnership between the Browns, Berea City School District and the Lou Groza Football League.

The field was made possible thanks to a $250,000 grant from the Cleveland Browns, as part of the NFL Youth Football Fund, which was created in 1998 by the NFL and NFL Players Association. The Youth Football Fund supports the game at the youth level, promotes positive youth development and ensures the health of football in future generations.

The field has been used by the school district, Lou Groza Youth Football, select Browns Youth Football events, including the Browns Adapted Football League, and other local community groups. 

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