Bengals founder Paul Brown was named as one of the 10 greatest coaches in NFL history as part of the #NFL100 campaign celebrating the league's centennial season.
Earlier this year the NFL named Brown the league's No. 1 Game Changer.
Brown was not only the founder and first coach of the Bengals franchise, he was one of the winningest coaches and greatest innovators in pro football history.
"Whether they know it or not, nearly everyone in the game of football has been affected by Paul Brown," NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle said in 1991, upon Brown's death. "His wealth of ideas changed the game."
Elected in 1967 to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Brown was the founder and first coach of two franchises. Prior to founding the Bengals in '67, he launched the Cleveland Browns, whose extended pro football dynasty in the 1940s and 1950s remains unmatched to this day. He is also credited as being preeminent in making NFL coaching the exact and exacting science it is today. When he organized the Cleveland pro team in 1946, he started doing things no one else had ever tried.
Immediately upon launching the Cleveland team, Brown began a series of innovations which would revolutionize pro football. Among them:
- The first to make coaching a year-round occupation for himself and a full-time staff.
- Invented the draw play.
- Extensively use notebooks and classroom techniques in preparing his teams.
- Pioneered the practice of grading players on studies of game films.
- Introduced the use of face masks on helmets.
- The first to call plays from the sidelines, using rotating guards as messengers to the huddle.
- Made the first significant use of intelligence tests as a guide to players' learning potential.
- The first coach to keep players at a hotel the night before home games.
- Used his personnel to its utmost, becoming the first coach to switch running backs to the defensive unit "because they were so good, I didn't want to waste them on offense."
- Developed pass patterns designed to pick holes in the defense, then set to work perfecting a defense that could counteract a pattern passing attack.
Moreover, Brown played a role in the scientific development of the forward pass, joining Hall of Famer Sid Gillman and two other former Ram coaches, Clark Shaughnessy and Hampton Pool, in creating the modern game. "To succeed in pro football, you have to do one thing first," Brown once said. "You have to surround yourself with (assistant coaches) who understand the forward pass--who are in the forefront of the continuous evolution of passing."
The above measures are now common practice, but 65 years ago, they were revolutionary in the coaching world.
Brown began his career as coach at Massillon High in 1930, when Knute Rockne was still at Notre Dame. Thereafter he spent most of his life in Ohio, founding both the Browns and Bengals before retiring from coaching in 1975.
Every Friday night at 8 pm ET through Dec. 27, NFL Network will announce the latest members of the All-Time Team during a one-hour special hosted by Rich Eisen and featuring Bill Belichick and Bengals great Cris Collinsworth.