Paul Brown's enormous impact on professional football is an everlasting achievement. Following World War II, his team became the standard of excellence in the NFL. He always considered himself a teacher first. What he taught everyone in football would fill several volumes. Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue
One of football's greatest innovators and widely considered among the greatest coaches in the history of the sport, Paul Brown was the founder and first head coach of both the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns.
After founding the Cleveland Browns and leading the team to seven league titles in 12 seasons, Brown was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967. That same year, he founded the Cincinnati Bengals and went on to serve as head coach from the team's inaugural season in 1968 until 1975. He quickly helped build the expansion Bengals into a contender, and reached postseason play three times. The first of those playoff berths came in the Bengals' third year of existence (1970), which at the time was the earliest a team had ever reached postseason play.
After wrapping up his 25-year pro coaching career with a 222-112-9 record (including playoffs), Brown turned his attention solely to the role of Bengals general manager, where he helped build Bengals teams that twice reached the Super Bowl in the 1980s.
Brown also is known for pioneering multiple innovations that today have become commonplace at all levels of football. Among those contributions were the establishment of coaching as a year-round profession, invention of the draw play, introduction of face masks on helmets, and the initiation of film study and classroom instruction of players. He was also the first coach to call plays from the sidelines. In 1946, a year before Jackie Robinson's debut in Major League Baseball, brown broke the color barrier in modern American pro sports when his Cleveland team featured black stars Marion Motley and Bill Willis. both Motley and Willis went on to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Numerous other members of the Hall played and/or coached under Brown, including Weeb Ewbank, Bill Walsh, Dick LeBeau, Forrest Gregg, Anthony Muñoz, Charlie Joiner, Jim Brown, Len Dawson, Otto Graham and Lou Groza.
A native of Norwalk, Ohio, Brown achieved coaching success at every level in his home state. Prior to his time with the Browns and Bengals, he created an Ohio dynasty at Massillon High School and coached Ohio State University to a national championship in 1942.
Brown died on Aug. 5, 1991, at age 82.
A look at some of the best images of Paul Brown, founder and first head coach of the Bengals.