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Issue Date: October 2012


1954


Lauren McGrath

Goal posts crashed down as fans stormed the field at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. The Browns had delivered a day-after-Christmas gift to the city: a 56-10 NFL Championship Game victory over the Detroit Lions, breaking the jinx of back-to-back losses to the reigning champs.

Inside the locker room the team celebrated with root beer, keeping the rowdiness to a minimum, though a few doused the equipment manager with water.

“On this given day, you were the finest team I have ever coached,” said tearful coach Paul Brown, seen sporting his signature fedora. “I’ve got to take my hat off to you.”

The Browns had set 13 NFL playoff records, including kicker Lou Groza’s eight extra points and defensive end Len Ford’s 45-yard interception return. Quarterback Otto Graham had run for three touchdowns, also a playoff record, and thrown three touchdown passes.

Graham, standing next to Brown, was determined to retire after nine years in the league. With under 3 minutes of play left, Brown had pulled Graham from the game so he could receive a proper farewell from the crowd of 43,827, who gave him a standing ovation.

“That almost made me change my mind,” Graham said afterward, clad in a shirt nearly torn to pieces. In fact, Graham did return to play another year with the Browns, adding a seventh championship in 1955.


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