Sunday, November 25, 2007


Let us not all get caught up in the epic battle of the undefeated NFL quarterbacks, New England’s Tom Brady vs. Indianapolis’ Peyton Manning that took place on the first Sunday of November. Let us not all be overwhelmed by Brent Favre’s re-writing of all the NFL passing records. And let us all not bask in Joe Montana’s Super Bowl Victories, John Elway’s final game as a champion, Dan Marino’s legend and Johnny Untias’ golden arm. There is one quarterback who stands above all of these, simply because he knew what the object of the game was: To win! No other passer won more titles than Otto Everett Graham.

Otto Graham’s record as a quarterback is remarkable. In his ten seasons with Cleveland he guided the Browns to four AAFC titles and three NFL championships. In fact, in every year Graham played, the Cleveland Browns played for the title. His 7-3 record as a starting quarterback in Championship Games is unmatched, and is the one convincing argument for Otto Graham to stand alone as the greatest NFL Quarterback.

Many of us have heard of Otto Graham, but very few of us know him. His resume before his NFL career is as impressive as any who has played the game. The former Northwestern Tailback finished third in the Heisman Trophy balloting in 1943. After he spent his WWII obligation in the Navy, he played professional basketball for the Rochester Royals and won the National Basketball League Title in 1946.

Paul Brown signed Graham in 1946 as his quarterback to begin play in the new pro league the All-America Football Conference. The AAFC would only last four years before merging with the NFL in 1950. With Graham as the signal caller, Cleveland captured the championship in all four of those years, winning the MVP in every season but one.

Otto Graham and the Cleveland Browns won the title their first year in the National Football League. Down by one point with less than two minutes to play in the 1950 Championship Game, Graham marched the Browns sixty yards to a winning field goal and a 30-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams. Cleveland would lose the next three championship games before wining in 1954 and in 1955, the last two years of Graham’s career. Three NFL MVP’s belong to Graham in his six years in the league.

The unprecedented popularity that the National Football League attainted in the sixties has glorified the successful quarterbacks who have performed on the gridiron ever since.

Although we still remember the greats of the past, we easily forget their exceptional performances and their impact on their day. With all the ways we rate quarterbacks in the modern era of pro football, such as QB rating, yards, touchdown passes, longevity, victories and Super Bowls, we forget that in the good old days all the great ones did was ‘just win baby!’ Statistics were only for the losers.

No other Quarterback reached the pinnacle as many times as Otto Graham did. In his eleven year professional sports career, counting his one year in the National Basketball League, Graham played for the title in every year, winning eight times. A winning record that can not be, and probably will never be matched!


Mayor Ed said...

I agree. Otto was the best ever, and also very tough. He was forced out of a 1953 game against the 49ers because of a cheap shot. He took 15 stitches to the face, returned, and won the game. A little know fact is that he played every side of the ball. On Defense he had 7 interceptions and ran one back for a TD. On specialty teams he had 23 punt returns. Another thing that is overlooked is that when he played in the college all-star game against the Redskins, a gave of college all-stars against the reigning NFL champs, he intercepted a Sammy Baugh pass and ran it back 97 yards for a TD. But that wasn’t the only time he won that game. As a Brown he won it three times and as coach of the All-stars he beat Detroit and the Great Lombardi Packers. He is in the top 100 NFL players for rushing TD’s. A lastly, non of his AAFC records are allowed to be included in his NFL stats. In short, he is even better than what the records show.

Michael Harkins said...

Thanks Mayor Ed!

I did not know that! That even makes him more remarkable!

There is no question about it! Otto was the best QB ever!