1. Otto Graham
Known as “Automatic Otto” Graham is the father of the modern passing game. Back during the Browns’ first season in the 1946 AAFC days, Graham posted a 112.1 quarterback rating. That record stood for 43 years in professional football, and it took a guy named Joe Montana to knock Graham out of the No. 1 spot.
Graham came around at time when quarterbacks didn’t throw, but by teaming up with Paul Brown, the duo single-handily gave lift to the passing game that so many fans enjoy to this day.
Graham threw 174 career touchdowns between the NFL and AAFC. Although the AAFC’s records aren’t currently recognized by the NFL, Graham did enough in his six NFL seasons to show why he was a transcendent player.
As an NFLer, Graham was an all-pro four times and MVP twice. He made the Pro Bowl his first five seasons after the Browns made the jump to the NFL from 1950-1954.
Graham played 10 seasons, and won championships in seven of those years. From 1946-1949, Graham led Cleveland to four AAFC titles, and in 1950, he guided the Browns to the NFL title, when nobody wanted to give Cleveland a chance in what many considered was the best professional football league in the world.
Graham would go on to win NFL championships in 1954 and 1955, too. Add it up, and that’s seven titles in 10 years.
“Imagine a quarterback leading his team to 10 straight Super Bowls today and you have a measure of the kind of man Otto Graham was,” wrote the late Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray, via ESPN.com.
The Browns haven’t had an elite quarterback since Graham, but they certainly had the first.
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