Paul Brown's Ghost: How the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals Are Haunted by the Man Who Created Them

Paul Brown's Ghost: How the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals Are Haunted by the Man Who Created Them

by Jonathan Knight


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Paul Brown was a football genius and the father of two NFL franchisesfithe Cleveland Browns, who carry his name, and the Cincinnati Bengals. Arguably the most important figure in the history of the sport, he was a renowned coach and owner, and when he passed away on August 5, 1991, the game lost a giant. But for the Browns and Bengals, his death would herald a new era of bad luck, poor judgment, and comic folly that soon had fans whispering about a curse.

Paul Brown’s Ghost explores the mystery surrounding the greatest ghost story in NFL history: why these two once-proud franchises have been perpetually denied good fortune in such dramatic, yet different ways—as if they’re being haunted by their mutual patriarch.

Jonathan Knight takes readers through a haunted house filled with tales that explain the fraternal—almost biblical—connection between the teams. He examines the colorful characters and memorable moments that both defined and defiled the history of a rivalry that evolved from three decades of bad blood between Brown and Cleveland owner Art Modell.

From coaches they shared to draft picks they both lusted after, the Browns and Bengals are connected in ways even their die-hard fans may not realize. Readers will discover the key role the Bengals played in the original Browns’ move to Baltimore, how the Browns were instrumental in the Bengals’ financially crippling new stadium deal, and how the Bengals actually almost became the new Browns.

Through the lens of the enduring legacy of one of football’s pioneers, Paul Brown’s Ghost is a witty, whimsical look at decades of absurd incompetence set against the offbeat rivalry between football’s two most hard-luck teams.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781683582441
Publisher: Sports Publishing LLC
Publication date: 10/02/2018
Pages: 208
Sales rank: 739,229
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.90(d)

About the Author

Jonathan Knight is the author of ten books on Cleveland sports. Called "one of the most articulate and devoted sportswriters in Ohio" by the Akron Beacon Journal, Knight has been praised by the Plain Dealer, Cleveland Magazine, and ESPN's A native of Dayton, Ohio, and a graduate of Ohio University's E.W. Scripps School of Journalism, he’s also served as an online columnist for and, as well as a contributor for and He lives in Columbus, Ohio, with his two sons.

Table of Contents

Preface and Acknowledgments ix

Prologue: August 5, 1991 xiii

Chapter 1 Beginnings and Endings 1944-1969 1

Chapter 2 The Haunting Begins 1991-1998 15

Chapter 3 1-71 Tug of War 1970-1975 45

Chapter 4 New Browns, New Bengals 1999-2002 59

Chapter 5 The Forrest Bump 1976-1983 79

Chapter 6 Trading Places 2003-2008 109

Chapter 7 Dogs and Cats 1984-1990 125

Chapter 8 One and Done 2009-present 155

Sources 183

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