More than 70 years since Mac Speedie began his career with the original Browns, the late pass-catcher is one step closer to being honored as a Pro Football Hall of Famer.
Speedie was among the 38 Centennial Slate finalists unveiled Thursday. This group, which includes 20 former players, 10 contributors (a group that included former Browns owner Art Modell) and eight former coaches (a group that included former Browns player/coach Bill Cowher and former Browns president Mike Holmgren), will be eventually whittled down to 15 and will include 10 former players who retired 25 or more years ago. They'll be inducted alongside the five Modern-Era inductees Aug,. 8, 2020, as part of the first-ever 20-person class.
Originally drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1942, Speedie didn't begin his professional career until 1946 after serving in World War II. He joined the Browns in their first season in the AAFC and provided an immediate impact, starting in 10 games and catching seven touchdowns. He went on to win five total championships (four in the AAFC, one in the NFL), made six All-Pro teams, led his league in receptions four times and receiving yards twice.
Speedie, who passed away at the age of 73 in 1993, finished his career with 349 catches, 5,602 yards and 33 touchdowns. He was honored as a Browns Legend in 2002, the second year of the program.
Modell owned the team from 1961-1995 before moving the team to Baltimore. Cowher played for the Browns from 1980-82 and was a special teams coach from 1985-86 before winning multiple Super Bowls as the head coach of the Steelers. Holmgren was the Browns' team president from 2010-12 after coaching stints with the Packers and Seahawks.
They'll be among the nominees that will be the subject of debate when the Hall of Fame's Blue Ribbon Panel meets in early January to select its candidates.