Otto Graham Biography
Otto Graham was the best of all time, former Cleveland Browns Coach Paul Brown said of his quarterback. Maybe he was biased. On the other hand, not many players win seven championships in ten years.
"Imagine a quarterback leading his team to 10 straight Super Bowls today, and you have a measure of the kind of man Otto Graham was," wrote the late Los Angeles Times columnist Jim Murray.
No, the Super Bowl didn't exist when Otto Graham was a pro quarterback. In his first four seasons as quarterback of the Cleveland Browns in the old All America Football Conference starting in 1946, however, all he did was lead the Browns to all four championships. He passed for a total of 86 touchdowns during the four seasons, and the Browns were 52-4-3.
The so-called experts laughed, because they said the AAFC was inferior to the NFL, and when the Browns joined they would be taught a lesson. In his first season in the NFL, however, Graham threw four touchdown passes and led the Browns to a 31-28 championship game victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
In fact, Graham led the Browns to a division championship for ten straight years in the two leagues from 1946-1955. He capped his career by leading the Browns to a sixth and seventh championship his last two seasons. In 1954 the Browns beat Detroit 56-10. The following year he closed out his career by beating the Rams 38-10.
Not only was he the top AAFC quarterback, but Graham was also an NFL all-pro four times. He was the NFL top passer twice, had the highest completion average three times, was NFL MVP twice,and threw for the most yardage of any quarterback twice.
In 10 seasons Graham threw 1,464 completions in 2,626 attempts for a 55.8% completion rate. He three for 23,585 yards, 174 touchdowns and 135 interceptions. He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
"When Paul Brown talked contract, the championship game was part of it," Graham nicknaknamed, "automatic Otto," said. We took the championship game for granted.
"I could throw a pass to a spot as well as anyone who ever lived," Graham said. "But that's a God-given talent. I could never stand back and flick the ball 60 yards downfield ...like Dan Marino."
"The test of a quarterback is where his team finishes," Paul Brown said. "By that standard, Otto Graham was the best of all time."
A naturally gifted athlete, Graham had talent for more than football. He was a basketball All American. He was third in balloting for the Heisman Trophy at Northwestern, not known at that time for successful college football programs.
In his first year as a professional he played football for the Browns and basketball for the Rochester Royalls of the National Basketball League. Both teams won championships. After that season he concentrated exclusively on football.
He was discovered at an intramural football game. Northwestern Coach Pappy Waldorf urged him to try out for the Northwestern team. Many football fans are glad he did.