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Bengals Moments: The Passing Of Paul Brown

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August 5th, 1991 was the day when one of the greatest minds and innovators in the history of the NFL passed on. The house the Bengals play in still carries his name.

On August 5th, 1991 Paul Brown passed away at his home in Cincinnati. The cause of death was complications from pneumonia.

The New York Post ran a story titled "Death of a Legend". Paul Brown left a huge mark on the game of football and the turnout at his funeral was a who's who of names in the NFL. Former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, NFLPA Chief Gene Upshaw, Art Modell, Jerry Jones and Sam Wyche all attended. Though, Brown said to Wyche, then Bengals head coach, a few weeks prior to his death, he didn't want his death to interfere with training camp and certainly didn't want the coach to miss camp in order to attend his funeral. Regardless, Wyche still went to pay his respect.

Former Bengals quarterback Kenny Anderson was quoted as saying, "Football would not be what it is without him. He was always concerned about his guys after football. Football was just a stepping stone. He wanted you to prepare for your life's work."

Brown is responsible for the creation of the Bengals, most importantly. He was also father of the West Coast offense and is the namesake of the Cleveland Browns. He was the first coach to use game film to scout and is also responsible for the modern facemask. Additionally, Brown helped to break the color barrier in the NFL by employing Marion Motley and Bill Willis. After his death, Jim Brown had this to say about Paul Brown:

Paul Brown integrated pro football without uttering a single word about integration. He just went out, signed a bunch of great black athletes, and started kicking butt. That's how you do it. You don't talk about it. Paul never said one word about race. But this was a time in sports when you'd play in some cities and the white players could stay at the nice hotel, but the blacks had to stay in the homes of some black families in town. But not with Paul. We always stayed in hotels that took the entire team. Again, he never said a word. But in his own way, the man integrated football the right way - and no one was going to stop him.

Brown's mark on football began in Ohio where he was the head coach of the Massillon Tigers for 11 seasons. The Tigers only lost 10 games in that span. He was then hired by The Ohio State University and coached the school to a National Championship in 1942. He went on to have a stint in the Army followed by becoming head coach of the Cleveland Browns. Under Brown, Cleveland won each of the AAFC's four championship games before the league dissolved in 1949. The Browns then joined the NFL, where they continued to thrive. Brown's Cleveland team in the All-America Football Conference boasted a 52 win, 4 loss and 3 tie record.

Brown is also known for the way he controlled his teams. He wanted full control from play calling to personnel. This offended some and he gained a reputation of being tough to work with. What may be most impressive is his coaching tree. Brown helped to spawn the coaching careers of many greats like Lou Saban, Marty Schottenheimer, Don Shula and Bill Walsh. 11 of the first 25 Super Bowls were won by head coaches who either played for or coached under Brown.

In 2009, Sporting News named Brown as the 12th greatest coach of all time, across all sports. The only NFL coaches listed ahead of him were Vince Lombardi and Don Shula. Brown is commonly referred to as one of the winningest coaches and innovators in NFL history. He will forever be remembered and honored by the Bengals and their fans.