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The best player to wear No. 20 in Browns history

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Safety Ross Fichtner earns the nod after an eight-year career that included an NFL Championship.

NFL: DEC 29 Browns at Bengals Photo by Ian Johnson/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Of all the uniform numbers that players have worn through the years, uniform No. 20 is one that carries little distinction.

Twenty-three players have sported that number, starting with center Mike Scarry in 1946 up through defensive back Tavierre Thomas in 2019, but the average player has only last 2.26 seasons with the Browns with No. 20 on their jersey.

One exception was safety Ross Fichtner, who played for the Browns from 1960 through 1967 and earns the honor as the best player to wear No. 20 in franchise history.

A quarterback in college at Purdue, the Browns switched Fichtner to safety after selecting him in the third round of the 1960 NFL Draft. It wasn’t until his third season that Fichtner worked his way into the starting lineup, but once he did he quickly made his mark.

Fichtner had seven interceptions in 1963 and a career-high eight in 1966 along the way to finishing his career with 27 interceptions, tied for eighth best in franchise history. His three interception returns for touchdowns is also tired for third best on the team’s all-time list.

Finally, Fichtner averaged 21.5 yards per interception return, the highest average in league history for players with a minimum of 25 interceptions.

Fichtner was a member of the last Browns team to win a championship, although he missed a six games that season after suffering a concussion during a Week 4 game against the Dallas Cowboys.

The blow to the head sent Fichtner into convulsions, led him to be hospitalized for two weeks, and had implications throughout the rest of the season, he told cleveland.com in a 2019 story:

“My teammates thought I’d died on the field. I don’t remember anything but I was told they stopped the game for over 20 minutes. They were praying on the sideline. When I woke up, my left eye had been knocked off its axis. I’d see my shoes and your face at the same time.

“I played with double vision for the rest of the season. I’d have to turn my head so I could see one ball because if I were running, my left eye would bounce. If I didn’t get my right eye on the ball, I wouldn’t know which ball to catch. I probably came back too soon, but I wanted to play.”

Fichtner finished his career with the New Orleans Saints, where he played four games in 1968.

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Honorable mention: Safety Earl Little, who signed with the Browns as a free agent early in the 1999 season. Little clashed with head coach Chris Palmer, but was able to carve out a career after Butch Davis, his head coach at the University of Miami, took over for Palmer after the 2000 season. Little had 18 interceptions while playing with the Browns from 1999 through 2004.

New England Patriots v Cleveland Browns

Safety Don Rogers, the team’s first round selection in the 1984 NFL Draft and a hard-hitting safety that earned selection to the NFL’s All-Rookie Team. After a solid second season that saw the Browns win the AFC Central Division, Rogers tragically died of a drug overdose in the summer of 1986.

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Safety Mike Adams, who spent five seasons with the Browns starting in 2007. A functional if unspectacular player, Adams would start 36 of the 72 games he played with the Browns. He signed with the Denver Broncos as a free agent following the 2011 season and, after two years with the Broncos, signed with the Indianapolis Colts, where he earned Pro Bowl honors in 2014 and 2015.

Poll

Who is the best player to wear No. 20 in Browns history?

This poll is closed

  • 0%
    Mike Scarry
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Lou Saban
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Hal Herring
    (1 vote)
  • 0%
    Ken Carpenter
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Don Paul
    (1 vote)
  • 28%
    Ross Fichtner
    (68 votes)
  • 0%
    Freddie Summers
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Jim Stienke
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Tony Peters
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Judson Flint
    (2 votes)
  • 17%
    Don Rogers
    (42 votes)
  • 0%
    Joe Morris
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Alan Haller
    (1 vote)
  • 35%
    Earnest Byner
    (84 votes)
  • 0%
    Johnny Thomas
    (0 votes)
  • 6%
    Earl Little
    (15 votes)
  • 0%
    Pete Hunter
    (0 votes)
  • 0%
    Ralph Brown
    (0 votes)
  • 2%
    Mike Adams
    (7 votes)
  • 0%
    Montario Hardesty
    (2 votes)
  • 0%
    Shaun Draughn
    (0 votes)
  • 3%
    Briean Boddy-Calhoun
    (8 votes)
  • 0%
    Tavierre Thomas
    (1 vote)
236 votes total Vote Now