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Paul Brown's innovation, influence celebrated in 'A Football Life' documentary

The most extensive deep dive yet into the innovation and influence Paul Brown brought to professional football as we know it today premieres tonight on NFL Network.

"Paul Brown: A Football Life," which features interviews that range from Bill Belichick to Otto Graham to Condoleezza Rice, will air tonight at 9 p.m.

"When you saw a Paul Brown team, it would be Paul Brown, the creator," Browns legend Jim Brown said. "There'd be something always new."

A heavy portion of the documentary is devoted to the impact he left on the Cleveland Browns, who were, of course, named after him.

The visionary coach who found success at Massillon High School and Ohio State before he joined the newly formed Cleveland franchise in 1946 always seemed to be one step ahead of the competition. He was the brains behind the first facemask and installed the first radio transmitter inside his quarterback's helmet -- decades and decades before they became standard across the NFL. His teaching methods were similarly innovative and, at the time, controversial. Now, they're considered standard practice.

Brown navigated the Browns to a 167-53-8 record, collecting four AAFC titles and three NFL crowns over 17 seasons. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame before he started Cincinnati's franchise in 1968.

His impact remains everlasting in today's NFL.

"There's nobody in the game I have more respect for then Paul Brown," said New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick said. "The father of professional football."

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