50 Greatest Browns of All-Time: #9 FB/LB Marion Motley

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As we continue our series on the 50 Greatest Browns, please make sure you have seen our previous articles to see which players have been named in numbers 50-10. In this article, we will discuss Marion Motley, a player that many Browns fans may not be familiar with because he played so long ago.

Marion Motley played for the Cleveland Browns from 1946 – 1953. Although he was born in Georgia, he grew up in Canton, Ohio where he would later be immortalized in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Besides for his contributions on the football field, it is important to have a broader look at his life and legacy.

Motley was a member of the US Navy in the later years of World War II. Interestingly enough, he played football for the Navy under Coach Paul Brown, who would later be his coach with the Browns.

When Motley joined the Browns, he became one of the first African American players along with teammate Bill Willis (#27 on our list). They joined the Browns about a half a year earlier than Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier and faced racism at every turn. Motley had an understanding that he needed to play well not only for himself and his team but for the sake of African Americans everywhere. Motley was the first in a line of great Browns backs, followed by Jim Brown and Leroy Kelly.

On the field, Motley was amazing. Twice in his career, in 1948 and 1950, Motley led the league in rushing yards. For his career with the Browns, he rushed for 4,712 yards and 31 touchdowns on 826 carries. Additionally, he played defense, sadly many defensive statistics were not kept back then so we cannot truly appreciate his greatness.

He helped lead the Browns to five consecutive championships, four of them with the Browns being a member of the AAFC and the fifth with them being a part of the NFL. He was named an All-Pro twice and was also named to the NFL 1940s All-Decade Team. In 1968 Motley was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, at the time he was only the 2nd African American member.

Motley passed away in 1999 from prostate cancer. He is a man that should be admired, not just for his playing ability, but for his hard work and determination. African American players today owe Motley a debt of gratitude for helping pave the way for them. Sadly, he is seldom mentioned when discussing the greats and most probably is unknown to the average current player.

We hope that you enjoyed this article and learned something about one of the greatest Browns to ever play. In our next article, we will unveil our #8 player on our list, see you next time!

Image: USA Today

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