Training camp each year earmarks a renewal with the Cleveland Browns. Every NFL club is undefeated and has aspirations of a deep playoff run and a chance of winning the league championship.
Our players are looked up to as the next crop of conquering leaders. Just as our heroes are celebrated in life, here is a snapshot of several former Browns who parted this earth in 2022.
LB Bob Babich
Passing date: March
Career: San Diego Chargers 1970-1972, Browns 1973-1978
The Ohio native was a star at Miami University of Ohio and was taken in the first round by the Chargers. The All-American and MAC Defensive Player of the Year would later be inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. The Browns traded a first and second-round pick for him in 1973 and missed only three games during his six seasons in Cleveland at middle linebacker.
DB Erich Barnes
Passing date: March
Barnes was a six-time Pro Bowler and named All-Pro four seasons. He played on both sides of the ball while at Purdue University plus returned kicks. After the 1964 season, the Giants traded him to the Browns for LB Mike Lucci and a third-round pick. This trade marked the beginning of the overhaul of the Giants’ fabled dominating defense. Cleveland was his boyhood team. Barnes tallied 45 career interceptions with seven touchdowns. He was inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends and is a member of three Hall of Fames: NFL Hall of Very Good, Purdue University Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame, and Indiana Football Hall of Fame.
QB Len Dawson
Passing date: August
Another Ohio native, Dawson was one of two quarterbacks Browns head coach Paul Browns wanted in the 1957 NFL draft. The Steelers nabbed Dawson before Cleveland’s pick and Coach Brown reluctantly selected Jim Brown instead. His time in Pittsburgh was cut short when the club traded for the aging Bobby Layne, then traded to Cleveland but was released after tossing only 21 passes in two seasons. The 1962 Texans won the American Football League title where he threw for a 61% completion percentage. He won two more AFL titles with the move to Kansas City plus Super Bowl 4. At the end of his career, Dawson had passed for 28, 711 yards with 239 touchdowns with a passer rating of 82.6. He was a six-time AFL passing leader, AFL MVP in 1962, Super Bowl MVP, and NFL completion percentage leader (1975). named to the All-Time AFL Team, and had his Number 16 retired. He was also inducted into Hall of Fames: Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame, Purdue Intercollegiate Athletics Hall of Fame, and the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1987.
CB Ross Fichtner
Passing date: October
Career: Browns 1960-1967, New Orleans Saints 1968
A college quarterback at Purdue, he took over for Len Dawson when he graduated and was just as big a star. He twice led Purdue in passing and total offense in the 1957 and 1958 seasons. He was drafted by the Browns in the third round and by the AFL Buffalo Bills of the 1960 drafts. Even though Buffalo offered a larger contract, he chose Cleveland and was part of the 1964 NFL Championship squad. The Browns converted him to DB where Fichtner had 27 career interceptions with three touchdowns.
OT Ed Nutting
Passing date: May
Career: Browns 1961, Dallas Cowboys 1962-1963
Nutting was a second-round draft pick of Cleveland in 1961 and was also selected by the AFL’s Dallas Texans in the 15th round after a stellar career at Georgia Tech. A two-sport athlete, he set the SEC record for the shot put in 1960. In his rookie season with Cleveland, he suffered a horrific knee injury in Week 4 which landed him on IR. With a very slow recovery, he was traded to the Cowboys but sat out all of 1962 with yet another knee injury. In 1963, he started seven games and then retired into private business.