Rooting for Browns can be a labor of love Fans

November 10, 1995|By Drake Witham | Drake Witham,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

On Dec. 27, 1964, the Cleveland Browns were playing for the NFL title, but season-ticket holders Bill and Ruth Wine weren't at Municipal Stadium. With Ruth due with their second child, they watched the game on a snowy TV screen.

Shortly after Lou Groza's field goal gave the Browns a 3-0 lead in the third quarter, Ruth went into labor. Bill asked her if she could wait until after the game. And she did.

Ruth held on, fighting off labor pains every two minutes as the

Browns beat the Colts, 27-0, and delivered Cleveland its last NFL title. Just 15 minutes after reaching the hospital, Ruth delivered a baby girl.

L "I don't remember much of the game," Ruth said with a laugh.

Jim Karas has suffered, too. The pharmacist got pneumonia at one game and frostbite at another but said he has missed just four home games since 1970. He remembers a January 1981 playoff game against the Oakland Raiders.

"It was 33 below with the windchill," Karas said. "I zipped up a sleeping bag around my wife and before I drank a quarter of my beer it froze solid."

Bob Dery, a customer service consultant, remembers all of the big moments in Browns history.

"Let's just say I've been going longer than Art Modell has," Dery said. His family has had season tickets since 1948 and now owns 14, which he said it doesn't plan to use for next week's game.

"It's a great place for nostalgia," Dery said of Cleveland Stadium. "The field is real hard. When it froze, they would have to paint it green. Everywhere in the upper deck there were poles obstructing the view. But the fans always came out."

Local ties

Bill Belichick: The Browns' coach since 1991, Belichick played football as a lineman under the late Al Laramore at Annapolis High. His father, Steve Belichick, was a longtime Navy scout and administrative assistant who played one season (1941) in the NFL with the Detroit Lions. Steve came to the Naval Academy in 1956 as a professor in the physical education department. Bill began his coaching career in 1975 as a special assistant to then-Baltimore Colts coach Ted Marchibroda.

Paul Brown: Cleveland's legendary coach and Pro Football Hall of Famer began his coaching career in 1930 as an assistant to William Hoover at Severn School in Anne Arundel County. With Brown as their offensive coordinator in 1930, the Little Admirals (as they were called then) outscored their opponents, 99-25, and won the Maryland Scholastic Association title with a 7-0 record. The next season, Brown's last at Severn, the team went 5-2-1.

Gary Collins: A two-way standout for Maryland in the 1960s, Collins caught three touchdown passes in the 1964 championship game against the Baltimore Colts, which Cleveland won, 27-0.

Leroy Kelly: An eighth-round draft pick out of Morgan State in 1964, Kelly replaced Jim Brown as Cleveland's running back in 1966. He played for the Browns for 10 seasons before retiring in 1973. He finished his NFL career with 12,329 combined yards and 90 touchdowns and was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1994.

Dick Modzelewski: A Maryland graduate and a member of the College Football Hall of Fame, Modzelewski played defensive tackle for the Browns in the mid-1960s and later returned to the organization as an assistant coach. In 1977, Modzelewski, then an assistant, filled in as head coach for the Browns' final game of the season, after the firing of Forrest Gregg. Modzelewski followed in the footsteps of his older brother, Ed, a running back who starred for the Terps (1949-51) and the Browns (1955-59).

Maryland connections

Players from Maryland colleges who played for Cleveland Browns:

Name ... ... ... ... Pos. ... College ... ... ... ... Tenure with Browns

Elvis Franks ... ... DE .. .. Morgan ... .. .. .. ... 1980-1984

Gary Collins ... ... WR/P ... Maryland ... ... .. ... 1962-1971

Carl Hairston .. ... DE .. .. UMES ... ... ... .. ... 1984-1989

Chet Hanulak ... ... RB .. .. Maryland ... ... .. ... 1954, 1957

Gerald Irons ... ... LB .. .. UMES ... ... ... .. ... 1976-1979

Ben Jefferson .. ... T ... .. Maryland ... ... .. ... 1990

Vernon Joines .. ... WR .. .. Maryland ... ... .. ... 1989-1990

Leroy Kelly .. .. .. RB .. .. Morgan ... ... .. .. .. 1964-1973

Alvin Mitchell .. .. DB .. .. Morgan ... ... .. .. .. 1968-1969

Dick Modzelewski ... DT .. .. Maryland ... ... ... .. 1964-1966

Ed Modzelewski .. .. DT .. .. Maryland ... ... ... .. 1955-1959

Dick Shiner .. .. .. QB .. .. Maryland ... ... ... .. 1967

Roger Shoals ... ... T ... .. Maryland ... ... ... .. 1963-1964

Larry Webster .. ... DT .. .. Maryland ... ... ... .. 1995-

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