Who are the top 5 Greatest Browns of All Time?
The team has had 16 players inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame after joining the National Football League(NFL) The Browns are a high-spirited team with players who can win championships and take a lead to the American Football Conference Championships.
In order to work a balanced order, each player’s stats, game impacts on the franchise through influence, years as a Brown, and prizes (accolades): asPro Bowls, All-Pro selections, MVP awards, and Hall of Fame inductions.
1. Jim Brown (1957–65)
Jim Brown is the greatest running back to ever step onto a football field. When Brown entered the league, he took over, leading the league in rushing yards and touchdowns. In his nine-year career, he would lead the league in rushing eight times and lead in rushing touchdowns five times. Since then, many running backs have surpassed his numbers, but Brown retired during his prime after only nine seasons.
Brown ended his career averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He never missed a Pro Bowl and was a First-Team All-Pro selection in all but one of his seasons. He was awarded the MVP award three times and won an NFL Championship in 1964. He was selected to the 1960s All-Decade Team and earned a spot in the Hall of Fame in 1971. To this day, he’s the greatest Cleveland Brown ever to play and is immortalized in both their Ring of Honor and in the form of a statue outside first energy Stadium.
Nine-time Pro Bowler: 1957–65
Eight-time First-Team All-Pro selection: 1957–61, 1963–65
Eight-time rushing yards leader: 1957–61, 1963–65
Five-time rushing touchdown leader: 1957–59, ’63, ’65
Three-time Most Valuable Player: 1957, ’58, ’65
2. Otto Graham (1946–55)
Otto Graham was the greatest quarterback to step on a field in football’s early years. He dominated in the All-American Football Conference and the NFL, making it to 10 total championship games in his 10-year career, winning seven total. Graham led a passing game that was innovative for the time when most teams still ran the ball more often than not.
Graham was a three-time Most Valuable Player Award recipient and led the league in passing yards five times and passing touchdowns three times. He was an unstoppable force who was unrivaled in dominance in the late 1940s and early ’50s. The dynasty of the Cleveland Browns and the majority of their history of success is directly connected to Graham’s quarterback play. He was named to the 1950s All-Decade team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1965.
Five-time Pro Bowler: 1950–54
Seven-time First-Team All-Pro selection: 1947–49, ’51, 1953–55
Three-time Most Valuable Player: 1951, ’53, ’55
Five-time passing yards leader: 1947–49, 1952–53
Three-time passing touchdowns leader: 1946–47, ’52
Four-time AAFC Champion: 1946–49
Three-time NFL Champion: 1950, 1954–55
Selected to the 1950s All-Decade Team
Hall of Fame: 1965
3. Ozzie Newsome (1978–90)
Ozzie Newsome’s presence along chills the heart of many. When Newsome entered the league he was told that he could be a good wide receiver or a great tight end. Newsome would go on to revolutionize the game, becoming one of the best pass-catchers in the league and being completely unguardable. Newsome was too fast for linebackers to keep up with, and too big for cornerbacks to be physical with.
This matchup nightmare led to him becoming the Browns franchise leader in receptions and receiving yards. During his time in the NFL, Newsome also had more receptions, yards and receiving touchdowns than Kellen Winslow. He was named to the 1980s All-Decade Team and inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1999.
But Newsome did much more than just play the game; he was also a great executive. He was a Browns executive from 1991 to 1995. During that time he helped to scout players and worked with team operations. Unfortunately, when Art Modell relocated the Browns to Baltimore, Newsome left with the franchise, where he went on to be one of the greatest general managers in the league. Newsome is honored to this day in the Browns’ Ring of Honor.
Three-time Pro-Bowler: 1981, 1984–85
First-Team All-Pro selection: 1984
Selected to the 1980s All-Decade Team
Hall of Famer: 1999
Browns’ Franchise Records
Franchise receiving yards record: 7,980
Franchise receptions record: 662
4. Joe Thomas (2007–17)
Joe Thomas is the greatest Browns lineman in franchise history, and on record as one of the best-left tackles to ever play in the NFL. He never missed a single snap, amassing 10,363 snaps in a row before an injury ended his career in 2017. Joe is believed to be the only player in NFL history ever to have over 10,000 consecutive snaps.
Even more impressive than his resilience to injury is that in that stretch, he only committed 61 penalties while playing tackle. Joe is also only allowed 30 sacks during his 10-year career, an astounding four-thousandths of a percent of his total 6,680 pass-blocking plays. He is one of five players ever to start their career with 10 straight Pro Bowl appearances, and only Tom Brady and Larry Fitzgerald made the Pro Bowl as many times as Thomas from 2007–17.
Thomas was also a shining bright spot in the Browns otherwise abysmal team of the 2000s. He was the most dominant player at his position in the league for years, and while the team failed to be competitive for years, he was something the fans could latch onto when all other hope was lost. To this day, if you go to a Browns game, you will find just as many #73 Thomas jerseys as you will of any skill position.
Thomas always played at a high level regardless of the fact that he protected 20 quarterbacks, played for six coaches, and never had a team around him that allowed him to play in the playoffs. He could have left for a better team anytime he wanted, but Thomas was loyal, played hard, and was an example of what Clevelanders are—blue-collar workers.
10-time Pro Bowler: 2007–16
Six-time First-Team All-Pro selection: 2009–11, 2013–15
One of five players to begin their career with 10 straight Pro Bowl appearances. (The other four are all in the Hall of Fame.)
5. Paul Warfield (1964–69, 1976–77)
Paul Warfield is the greatest wide receiver ever. While he played running back in college, he excelled at WR in the NFL. Warfield stepped in and impacted the team, leading them in all receiving categories with 52 catches, 920 yards, and nine touchdowns. Paul is currently ranked sixth in yardage and third in receiving touchdowns on the Browns’ franchise list, but would probably lead all their categories had he not left for Miami for five seasons.
Unfortunately, Miami was able to get some of the best years of Warfield’s career, but he was still one of the best players on the field when he was in Cleveland. He was named to the 1970s All-Decade Team and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1983.
Three-time Pro-Bowler (With Cleveland): 1964, 1968–69
NFL receiving touchdowns leader: 1968
NFL Champion: 1964
Selected to the 1970s All-Decade Team
Hall of Fame: 1983
Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas (73) blocks Ravens outside linebacker Terrell Suggs (55) during a 2017 game at M&T Bank Stadium.