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The best player to wear No. 12 in Browns history

Don Cockroft took over for a Browns legend and held the job for 13 seasons.

Pittsburgh Steelers v Cleveland Browns Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

When the Cleveland Browns took the field for their very first game on September 6, 1946, Lou Groza converted three field goals and five extra points during a 44-0 victory over the Miami Seahawks.

With the exception of the 1960 season, when Groza took a one-year retirement, it wasn’t until September 15, 1968, that the Browns had to worry about the placekicking position.

Related: The best player to wear No. 11 in Browns history

That season, with Groza truly retired, the Browns turned to Don Cockroft, who sat behind Groza for a season after being selected in the third round of the 1967 NFL Draft.

Cockroft would hold down the job for the next 13 seasons — starting his career as a teammate to Leroy Kelly, Paul Warfield and Gary Collins, and ending it with Brian Sipe, Greg Pruitt and Ozzie Newsome - while also serving as the team’s punter for nine seasons, making him the choice as the best player to wear uniform No. 12 in franchise history.

While he never made a Pro Bowl, Cockroft kicked for the Browns in playoff games in three decades, led the NFL in extra points made in 1969, and field goal percentage three times — in 1968, 1972 and 1974.

He is third on the franchise’s all-time list for career field goals attempted and field goals made, trailing just Groza and Phil Dawson; first in career punting yards; and third in career points scored.

Cockroft was also part of some of the most memorable games in Browns history, as he:

  • made five extra points and a field goal in a 1969 playoff win over the Dallas Cowboys, the last time the Browns won a road playoff game;
  • converted four extra points and a field goal against the New York Jets in 1970 the first Monday Night Football game;
  • had a punt blocked for a touchdown in Cleveland’s six-point loss to the undefeated Miami Dolphins in the 1972 playoffs;
  • hit the game-winning field goal in the first overtime game in franchise history, a win over the New England Patriots in 1977;
  • missed two field goals in frozen conditions against the Oakland Raiders in a playoff game following the 1980 season.

The Browns may not have been able to recapture their glory days during Cockroft’s tenure, but his play makes him a deserving selection as the best player to wear No. 12 in franchise history.

Honorable mention: wide receiver Josh Gordon, who had the most unbelievable season in 2013 when he led the NFL with 1,646 receiving yards despite playing just 14 games; quarterback Don Strock, who came to the rescue in 1988 when the Browns were out of quarterbacks and led the Browns into the playoffs; and quarterback Vinny Testaverde, who was the quarterback in 1994 when the Browns last won a playoff game.


Who is the best player to wear No. 12 in Browns history?

This poll is closed

  • 64%
    Don Cockroft
    (198 votes)
  • 20%
    Josh Gordon
    (62 votes)
  • 0%
    KhaDarel Hodge
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Luke McCown
    (1 vote)
  • 1%
    Colt McCoy
    (4 votes)
  • 1%
    Syndric Steptoe
    (5 votes)
  • 1%
    Don Strock
    (5 votes)
  • 10%
    Vinny Testaverde
    (31 votes)
  • 0%
    Rick Trocano
    (1 vote)
309 votes total Vote Now