In the spirit of tonight's national championship showdown between Ohio State and Oregon, we dug into the archives and unearthed some of the most notable alums who wore orange and brown at some point during their respective NFL careers.
What we found: A lot of Ohio State, not a lot of Oregon.
All told, there've been 45 former Buckeyes, including current Brown Donte Whitner, to appear on the team's roster at some point over the past 69 years. A number of whom had lengthy careers and a handful wound up in the Hall of Fame.
As for the Ducks … we found six total.
The reasons, of course, are understandable.
The Browns' rich history and connection with the Buckeyes goes all the way back to the team's name. Paul Brown, for whom the team is named, coached the 1942 Buckeyes to their first-ever national championship team. Four took the Columbus-to-Cleveland route to Canton for their Hall of Fame induction.
Before their resurgence of the past 20 years, the Ducks simply weren't producing a large number of NFL players. On top of that, when specifically compared to Ohio State and how it relates to the Browns' roster, scouting during the 40s, 50s, 60s and 70s was far more regional than it is now. It was much easier for Cleveland's top decision-makers to know everything they needed to know about a Buckeye than it was for them to research a Duck.
With that in mind, we've highlighted the eight former Buckeyes whom the Browns consider to be legends in their franchise history. We've also laid out every single Oregon player who spent part of their pro career in Cleveland.
C Tom DeLeone (1974-84)
• A member of the Browns Legends Club who was a First-Team All-American center for the Buckeyes. The Browns acquired him off waivers midway through the 1974 season, two years after he was drafted in the fifth round by Cincinnati, where Brown was coaching at the time. The two-time Pro Bowler was the Browns' regular starter until the 1982 season.
T Lou Groza (1946-59, 1961-67)
• A member of the Browns for 21 of their first 22 seasons, Groza shined as both a left tackle and a kicker. He played in nine Pro Bowls and was an All-NFL tackle six times. His game-winning kick sealed the Browns' victory in the 1950 NFL title game. The Browns' facility in Berea is on Lou Groza Drive, and college football's award for its top kicker is named in his honor. The Martins Ferry, Ohio, native played both positions on the Buckeyes' 1942 freshman team.
DE/LB Jim Houston (1960-72)
• A member of the Buckeyes' 1957 national championship team, Houston followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Lin, who was an offensive lineman for the Browns in their first eight years of existence. The Browns selected Houston with the eighth overall pick in the 1960 draft and the four-time Pro Bowler went on to star at both defensive end and linebacker during his 13-year career.
DB Tommy James (1948-55)
• A member of the 1942 Ohio State national championship team, James signed with the Browns after one season with the Lions. He intercepted 34 passes during regular season games and four in championship games. His best season was 1950, when he intercepted nine passes in a year that ended with a NFL title.
WR Dante Lavelli (1946-56)
• A member of seven Browns championship teams, Lavelli put up numbers you'd see from receivers today during an era when the running game was featured so much more. He finished with 386 receptions, 6,488 yards and 62 touchdowns in the regular season portion of his Hall of Fame career. In championship games, he had 46 receptions for 667 yards and five touchdowns.
OT Dick Schafrath (1959-71)
• He played offensive tackle and defensive end for Ohio State's 1957 national championship team. The 23rd pick in the 1959 draft, Schafrath took over for Groza at left tackle in 1960 and didn't let go of the job for 11 seasons. He was first-team all-NFL in four seasons and made the Pro Bowl six times.
WR Paul Warfield (1964-69, 1976-77)
• After playing defensive back and running back for Woody Hayes at Ohio State, Warfield shined as a wide receiver for eight total seasons in Cleveland. In his first six seasons with the Browns, Warfield had 215 receptions for 4,346 yards and 44 touchdowns while making the Pro Bowl three times. After five similarly productive seasons with the Dolphins, Warfield spent two more seasons in Cleveland and retired as a Brown. He was inducted in the Hall of Fame in 1983.
G Bill Willis (1946-53)
• He was a main cog on the Browns' defensive line for their first eight seasons of existence and helped permanently break the sport's color barrier in 1946, joining fellow Brown Marion Motley as the only two African Americans in the All-America Football Conference. The eight-time All-Pro was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1977. He played on the Buckeyes' 1942 national championship team and his No. 99 jersey was retired by the team in 2007.
DL Romeo Bandison (1994-95)
• A third-round selection in the 1994 NFL Draft, Bandison ultimately never saw the field for the Browns. A native of The Netherlands, Bandison spent three seasons with the Redskins before he retired and went into coaching. His most recent stop was at New Mexico State, where he was the defensive line coach from 2012-13.
DB Latin Berry (1991-92)
• He played in 16 games over two seasons after beginning his career with the Los Angeles Rams. A four-time All-American in track and a three-year starter in football, Berry was inducted into the Oregon Athletics Hall of Fame in 2013.
RB Reuben Droughns (2005-06)
• After three seasons in Denver, Droughns was acquired in a 2005 trade with the Broncos for Ebenezer Ekuban and Michael Myers. He didn't miss a game in his debut season with the Browns, as he racked up 1,232 yards and two touchdowns to become the first Browns player to rush for 1,000 yards since 1985. He followed with 758 yards and four touchdowns in 2006.
QB Tony Graziani (2000)
• A three-year backup with the Atlanta Falcons, Graziani signed with the Browns but never played. He went on to some significant success in the Arena Football League, where he led the Philadelphia Soul to a 2008 championship.
DE Ron Snidow (1968-72)
• The longest-tenured former Brown with Oregon ties, Snidow started 45 games over five seasons after logging five years with the Redskins. He was a three-year starter at Oregon and, like Berry, is a member of its Hall of Fame.
DB T.J. Ward (2010-13)
• A second-round pick in the 2010 draft, Ward found immediate success and started all 16 games of his rookie season. The hard hitter spent four seasons in Cleveland and landed in the 2013 Pro Bowl. He intercepted seven passes and racked up 232 tackles before he left for Denver as a free agent.
WR Demetrius Williams (2010)
• He logged two games with the Browns near the end of the 2010 season but didn't catch a pass. He began his career with the Ravens, who selected him in the fourth round of the 2006 draft, and caught 63 passes for 1,008 yards and four touchdowns over four seasons.