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The best player to wear No. 18 in Browns history

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Veteran quarterback Gary Danielson gets the nod for his work as a top bridge quarterback in the 1980s.

Cleveland Browns v San Diego Chargers Photo by Owen c. Shaw/Getty Images

The Cleveland Browns have had several uniform numbers that bring instant recognition when fans see them.

Uniform No. 18 is not one of those, however.

Oh, there are some famous names attached to that uniform number. The only problem is those players found success away from Cleveland.

Quarterback Babe Parilli wore No. 18 while making three starts for the Browns in 1956, but his fame came in the AFL, where he was a three-time Pro Bowl selection with the Boston Patriots.

Same for quarterback Len Dawson, who sported No. 18 for two seasons with the Browns, 1960 and 1961, before going on to a Hall of Fame career with the Kansas City Chiefs.

Doug Pederson wore No. 18 during his one season with the Browns in 2000, making eight starts at quarterback and winning once. Pederson is better known for winning a Super Bowl as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles in 2017.

As for players who actually did something with the Browns, the choice comes down to just two names.

First up is Gary Danielson, who played for the Browns from 1985 to 1988 and may have been the greatest bridge quarterback in franchise history. (That may not sound like much of an honor, but when you go through quarterbacks the way the Browns have, you take your accolades where you can find them.)

The Browns sent a future draft pick to the Detroit Lions for Danielson in May of 1985 with the expectation that Danielson could hold down the position until rookie quarterback Bernie Kosar - who the team planned to select later that summer in the Supplemental Draft - was ready for the job.

Danielson was an occasional starter during his eight seasons with the Lions, but was coming off what was arguably his best season after completing 61.5 percent of his passes for 3,076 yards and 17 touchdowns while making 15 starts.

The veteran did open the regular season as the starter, but an injury knocked him out of the Week 5 game against the New England Patriots. Kosar took over, and while Danielson would make one more start that season, Kosar’s time had clearly arrived.

The most memorable game of Danielson’s tenure with the Browns may have been in Week 13 of the 1985 season against the New York Giants, where he came off the bench to help Cleveland rally for a 35-33 victory.

Danielson missed the 1986 season with an injury and only appeared in eight total games over the next two years before retiring following the 1988 season. He finished his Browns career having completed 61.7 percent of his passes for 1,879 yards, 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions while serving as a solid mentor to Kosar.

If not Danielson, then the honor might go to wide receiver Taylor Gabriel, who spent two seasons with the Browns after being signed as an undrafted free agent from Abilene Christian in 2014.

Houston Texans v Cleveland Browns

Gabriel provided a spark as a rookie, finishing with an average of 17.3 yards on 36 receptions, but his career never really took off. In his two seasons with the Browns, Gabriel had just 64 receptions for 862 yards and one touchdown.

The Browns let Gabriel leave in free agency after the 2015 season, and after an initial flurry in his first season with the Atlanta Falcons, where he scored six receiving touchdowns and one rushing touchdown to set some Browns fans hearts aflutter, his numbers leveled out his second year with the Falcons.

Gabriel spent the past two seasons with the Chicago Bears before being released and is currently looking for a new team.

So … is it Danielson for what he did to help Kosar, or is it Gabriel for what he did on the field?

It is a close call, but the nostalgia factor of Danielson being a member of the Browns in the mid-1980s gives him the narrow victory.

Poll

Who is the best player to wear No. 18 in Browns history?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Babe Parilli
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Bobby Freeman
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Bob Ptacek
    (2 votes)
  • 13%
    Len Dawson
    (39 votes)
  • 5%
    Dick Shiner
    (17 votes)
  • 0%
    Ben Hawkins
    (0 votes)
  • 44%
    Gary Danielson
    (128 votes)
  • 7%
    Mike Tomczak
    (21 votes)
  • 0%
    Doug Pederson
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Tony Simmons
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Kendrick Mosley
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Donté Stallworth
    (6 votes)
  • 0%
    Carlton Mitchell
    (2 votes)
  • 3%
    Greg Little
    (9 votes)
  • 15%
    Taylor Gabriel
    (45 votes)
  • 1%
    Kenny Britt
    (5 votes)
  • 3%
    Damion Ratley
    (9 votes)
288 votes total Vote Now