Interesting thing about the 1968 NFL draft. The Cincinnati Bengals made Tennessee’s Bob Johnson their first pick ever, figuring that you could build around a center. If you had an outstanding center, the reasoning went, a lot of other problems might take care of themselves.
They added to that line of thought by drafting Vol quarterback Dewey Warren in the sixth round. If your center and quarterback had already worked together, then there would be more time for learning the other aspects of a new offense.
Paul Brown was certainly no dummy and those two transactions proved it.
For Johnson, it had to have been a sense of déjà vu, given that four years earlier, Doug Dickey had made Johnson the centerpiece of his first recruiting class. Johnson was a two-time All-America selection and was honored sufficiently to have been the Peyton Manning of his day. It could have been that Peyton was the Bob Johnson of his day.
A final word about Paul Brown. Occasionally, he made a miscalculation. But not many. The Cleveland Browns were practicing at Yankee Stadium before a game in late 1959. As the Browns left the field, a maintenance man with shovel in hand yelled at the visitors: “The Giants are going to kill you tomorrow.”
Not fazed in the least, Brown looked at his team and said: “Never listen to a man with a shovel in his hand.”
Unfortunately, the maintenance man was right. The final was 48-7, New York.
All of which goes to show you can’t win them all.
Saturday, April 25, 2015