Just as our heroes are celebrated in life, here is a snapshot of several former Cleveland Browns who parted this earth in 2020.
C Quincy Armstrong
Career: Hamilton (CFL) 1952-1953, Browns 1954, Ottawa (CFL) 1955
Armstrong played in an era that the NFL and CFL competed for player contracts constantly. He had a successful college career at North Texas University and started immediately for the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in which he won a Grey Cup in 1953. Cleveland then plucked him away, but he couldn’t unseat veteran Frank Gatski and he saw minimal playing time. The following year he went back to the CFL.
TE Pete Brewster
Location: Belton, Missouri
Career: Browns 1952-1958, Pittsburgh Steelers 1959-1960
Brewster was taken in the second-round (21st overall) of the 1952 NFL draft out of Purdue. While at Cleveland, he played both ways and even filled it at wide receiver. On defense he played both outside defensive ends. In his seven years with the Browns, Brewster caught 210 balls for 3,758 yards and averaged an incredible 17.9 yards per reception with 21 touchdowns. He was named to the Pro Bowl in 1955 and 1956. He later coached with the Minnesota Vikings and Kansas City Chiefs, the latter where he won a ring in Super Bowl 4. Brewster was enshrined in the Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
TE Arthur Cox
Location: Plant City, Florida
Career: Atlanta Falcons 1983-1987, San Diego Chargers 1988-1991, Miami Dolphins 1991, Browns 1991
The years Cox spent in Atlanta were his most productive. He followed fired Falcons head coach Dan Henning to San Diego where he was known as a fierce pass blocker. Later, he played sparingly in offensive schemes which featured three tight end sets. In 1991, he spent the first portion of the year with the Dolphins and the latter part with Cleveland.
DE Willie Davis
Location: Santa Monica, California
Career: Browns 1958-1959, Green Bay Packers 1960-1969
If there was ever a player traded that Cleveland wanted back, it was Davis. Five Time Pro Bowler, Five Time First Team All-Pro, Two Time Super Bowl champion, NFL 1960’s All Decade Team, Five Time NFL Champion, Green Bay Packers Hall of Fame member, Pro Football Hall of Fame inductee in 1981. All of that when he left the Browns.
Taken by Cleveland in the 15th round of the 1956 NFL draft, he went into the Army for two years before reporting where he played offense and defense. Davis had great speed, was nasty with excellent agility plus a team leader. Never missed a single game in 12-years. With the Browns, they were grooming him to become an offensive tackle when he was traded to the Packers for receiver A.D. Williams. Davis almost quit the game after the trade until head coach Vince Lombardi placed him at starting defensive end where he shined.
RB Bobby Mitchell
Location: Washington, DC
Career: Browns 1958-1961, Washington Redskins 1962-1968
Mitchell is one of the most famous of former Cleveland Browns, but not necessarily for his tenure with the Browns. In Cleveland he was teamed up with fullback Jim Brown and the two were a very successful tandem. But the NFL was placing pressure on the Redskins’ management about hiring black players. The end result was that Mitchell was traded to Washington much to the dismay of their star Brown. No longer in Brown’s shadow, he flourished with the Redskins where he earned three Pro Bowls (four total), Three Time First Team All-Pro, NFL receptions leader in 1962, and Two Time NFL receiving touchdowns leader. His number 49 was later retired by Washington and has been inducted into both the Redskins and Browns Ring of Honor. Mitchell broke the color barrier with the NFL’s last frontier. While with Cleveland, it was a well-known fact that head coach Paul Brown could not chew out Jim Brown, so he would chew out Mitchell instead who would be sitting next to Jim Brown.
FB Fred Morrison
Location: Murrieta, California
Career: Chicago Bears 1950-1953, Browns 1954-1956
An Ohio State alum, Morrison led the Buckeyes in scoring his senior year and was the Rose Bowl MVP. That success enabled him to become the 10th overall pick in 1950 by the Bears. Morrison led Chicago in rushing two years before being shipped off to Cleveland where he played in three NFL Championship Games. In 1955, he was the Browns leading rusher with 824 yards and a Pro Bowl nod. In 1956, those numbers dipped to 340 yards and the next season the franchise drafted another fullback by the name of Jim Brown. He would later become an executive with one WFL and USFL club.
FB Preston Powell
Location: Cleveland, Ohio
Career: Browns 1961, 1962-1963 Toronto (CFL)
Powell was a seventh-round draft pick in 1961 out of Grambling State for the sole purpose of being the kickoff returner and Jim Brown’s backup. He was also drafted by the Oakland Raiders of the AFL in the 20th round. Powell played in all 12 games that one season for the Browns and had 16 kickoff returns for 321 yards and zero touchdowns. He averaged 20.1 yards per return and did not have a single offensive carry. He then got a better contract to play in the CFL.
DB Don Shula
Location: Indian Creek, Florida
Career: Browns 1951-1952, Baltimore Colts 1953-1956, Washington Redskins 1957
Shula is mostly remembered as the head coach of the Miami Dolphins 1972 undefeated and untied season and the success he had coaching the Colts plus the Dolphins. The Browns drafted the feisty cornerback out of John Carroll in 1951 in Round 9. As a rookie, Shula netted four interceptions for Cleveland as the Browns went to the 1951 and 1952 NFL Championship Games only to lose both. At the same time, Shula was a member of the Ohio National Guard. He had 21 career interceptions. His coaching career began in college for two seasons before getting a job coaching the defensive backs with the Detroit Lions. Three years later, he was named head coach of the Colts and subsequently captured the 1968 NFL Championship. While at Miami, his squads won two Super Bowls and he was named NFL Coach-of-the-Year four times. His final coaching record is 328-156-6 for a .676 win percentage. Shula was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1997 and was named to the NFL 100th Anniversary Team.
C Bob Whitlow
Location: Forsyth, Georgia
Career: Bears 1960, Redskins 1960-1961, Lions 1961-1965, Falcons 1966, Rams 1967, Steelers 1968, Browns 1968
Whitlow was an Olympian in the shot put, a trait he excelled at while growing up in Indiana. The Bears traded him to Washington who then traded him to Detroit who then traded him to Atlanta who traded him to Los Angeles. He then signed with Pittsburgh then Cleveland. Whitlow started 38 NFL games in eight seasons and played in 100. He was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame and also the Indiana Sports Hall of Fame.