Marion Motley – Fullback
When Paul Brown signed Marion Motley in the Browns' first training camp in 1946, it was initially to give African-American Bill Willis, whom the head coach had just signed, an African-American roommate.
Having watched him play for arch rival Canton (Ohio) McKinley High School while he was serving as head coach at neighboring Massillon, Brown knew Motley was a good player. But he probably had no idea how good Motley would turn out to be in an eight-year (1946-53) career with the Browns, ending up as one of four Hall of Fame runners the team now claims.
Brown built his early clubs on speed. The faster his players, he felt, the better the team would be. As such, the 6-foot-1, 232-pound Motley, who had thick, muscular legs, was the powerful – and perfect – complement to all that speed. Sending Motley up the middle on the trap play Brown developed proved to be a nightmare for defenders who wanted no part of trying to tackle the big man, especially after he had gotten up a head of steam. Though he was 26 when he came to the Browns, Motley quickly proved he had plenty of football left in him. Playing in the new All-America Football Conference in 1946, he finished fourth in the league in rushing with 601 yards, averaging an impressive 8.2 yards per carry. He improved to third in the league with 889 yards in 1947, and then was first the following year with 964. Getting 570 in 1949 in the final year of AAFC, he finished his four-year stint in the league with 3,024 yards, a 6.2 yards-per-attempt average and 26 touchdowns. His play was a key reason why the Browns won all four AAFC crowns, losing just four games in the process. He proved his success in the AAFC was no fluke when the Browns moved to the NFL in 1950 as he led that league in rushing with 810 yards, including a 69-yarder for a TD, to help lead the club to the league crown. He paced the Browns in rushing again in 1952 with 444 yards and a season later finished his four-year stay with the team in the NFL with 1,696 yards and a 5.0 average. Add the totals of the two leagues together and Motley has 4,720 career yards, which would place him sixth on the Browns' all-time rushing list if AAFC stats were allowed to be considered.
– Steve King