While you’re watching the Bengals-Browns game, set the DVR to record “Paul Brown: A Football Life” (9 p.m. Friday, NFL Network), an excellent profile about the innovative genius who founded the Bengals and Browns.
Brown was the first coach to use game film to scout opponents and create a playbook for his team. He was the first to put a radio receiver inside the helmet worn by his quarterback (in 1954!) and put a face mask on it.
“There’s nobody in the game that I have more respect for than Paul Brown (and) his contributions to the game, to the way it's played, to protective equipment, to the playbook,” says Bill Belichick, New England Patriots coach.
“Every film breakdown, every meeting and everything that he did as a coach, 50 years later everybody is still basically doing the same thing. I really think of him as the father of professional football,” Belichick says.
Brown is the NFL's Bill Gates, says Emmy-winning NFL analyst and former Bengals receiver Cris Collinsworth. “Check the record and then you tell me who is the greatest coach of all time. I don't think we'll ever see anybody have that kind of impact. They’re not the Green Bay Lombardis, as great as he (Vince Lombardi) was.”
The NFL Network profile is packed with great old photos and film, and archival interviews with Brown (who died in 1991 at age 82). You’ll even see him doing the Ickey Shuffle – running back Ickey Woods’ touchdown dance – during a Super Bowl XXIII press conference in 1989.
The “Paul Brown: A Football Life” all-star lineup includes his son, Bengals President Mike Brown; Cleveland Browns’ Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown; Paul Browns’ former players turned coaches: Sam Wyche, Don Shula and Ken Anderson; University of Alabama head coach Nick Saban; former U.S. Secretary of State and Cleveland Browns fan Condoleezza Rice (“Paul Brown was my hero”); Cleveland sportswriter Tony Grossi; actress Patricia Heaton, daughter for former Cleveland sportswriter Chuck Heaton; and former Cincinnati Mayor Jerry Springer.