WHEN ALL THE WORLD WAS BROWNS TOWN: Cleveland's Browns and the Championship Season of '64 by Terry Pluto

WHEN ALL THE WORLD WAS BROWNS TOWN: Cleveland's Browns and the Championship Season of '64

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Sportswriter Pluto (Falling from Grace, 1995, etc.) movingly reveals the substance of a mythic bond between men and a game, a team and a city--and thus lays bare how present-day pro football has surrendered its soul. During the late 1940s and early '50s, the Cleveland Browns were the class of pro football. Coached by the brilliant martinet Paul Brown (for whom the team is named), the Browns streaked to several AAFC and NFL championships. By the dawn of the 1960s, however, some felt that the game had passed Brown by, among them the brash young man from Brooklyn named Art Modell who, in 1961, bought the team. After the '62 season, Modell ""retired"" Brown and hired one of his protâgâs, Blanton Collier. It was a move Pluto calls ""the best football decision Art Modell ever made."" He worked with essentially the same raw material Brown had: quarterback-cum-math-Ph.D.-candidate Frank Ryan; aged legend Lou ""the Toe"" Groza; and running back Jim Brown, reckoned by many to be the greatest player ever; as well as several prominent rookies. Collier urged, cajoled, and otherwise motivated the Browns to a stunning season-capping 27-0 rout of the Baltimore Colts in the NFL Championship Game. Pluto recounts the giddy joys of training camp, the easy camaraderie among players and between the players and their fast-living owner. Pluto also notes that football was at the time not the lucrative profession it is today (at least not for the players) and reveals the subtle racism that was, and continues to be, a problem hounding the teams of the NFL. Today, the Browns play in another city (ironically, Baltimore), and as a result, Modell has gone from civic hero to pariah. Still, for Clevelanders, the 1964 championship will remain one of their most cherished memories. Thanks to Pluto, that moment has been lovingly preserved.

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 1997
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster