Paul Brown: The greatest coach in football history


Michael Pallas | Aug 25th, 2019

Paul Brown is the greatest coach in the history of football. Your first inclination may be to think to yourself, “The greatest football coach in history is Bill Belichick.” If this were to account for just the National Football League, I would agree with you. He has won two Super Bowls as an assistant and has coached in nine as the head coach of the Patriots, winning six. That is hard to argue.

That being said, this goes beyond the NFL. In fact, it goes beyond all of professional football, whether the NFL, American Football League, Arena Football League, Canadian Football League, or any other pro league of yesteryear.


Paul Brown was a head coach for 41 years. From 1930-62 he was a head coach at two high schools, two colleges, and for the Cleveland Browns (when they were in the All-America Football Conference and the NFL). Then he coached the Cincinnati Bengals from 1968-75. That’s the kind of longevity you typically only see at the high school level, but he did it moving up the ranks, and most of it at the professional level.

Let’s take a look at his career.


High School Coaching

Brown began his coaching career in the best way possible. After taking the head coaching job at Severn High School in Maryland right out of college, he led the team to a 7-0 record and the state title. He would follow that up with 5-2-1 record when the job opened up at his alma mater and he took it.

In 1931, the year before becoming the coach, the school was 2-8-2. After becoming the head coach at Massillon Washington High School, the school would win no fewer than eight games in any season. This would include five undefeated seasons (all of them were state titles, and four mythical national titles based on a national ranking).

College Coaching

After leading Massillon to their third straight undefeated season, the Ohio State Buckeyes came calling. His stay at Ohio State would be brief — due to WWII — however, he would lead the Buckeyes to a Big 10 and National Championship in 1942.

While a lieutenant in the Navy, he was assigned to the Great Lakes Naval Training Station. There he would serve as the team’s head football coach. In his two seasons there, they would garner 15 wins. He finished his college coaching career with a 33-13-3 record and the lone national title.


Professional Coaching

His pro coaching career began with the Browns in the newly-minted All-America Football Conference. The league would only last four seasons, before merging the with NFL, and the Browns would win the leagues only four titles with a 52-4-3 record (including the postseason and an undefeated season).

They would continue their dominance in the NFL. In their first six years in the NFL, the Browns went 62-16-1 (including the postseason) and appeared in the NFL Championship Game all six seasons — winning three times. That means the Browns appeared in 10 consecutive league title games, a record unlikely to ever be broken.

For Brown, that would be the end of ultimate success as a head coach. He’d never get to coach in the Super Bowl and had four first-game playoff exits with the Browns and Bengals.

Coaching record as a whole

His 338 career wins is currently tied for 75th all-time among all coaches at any level, which is pretty good considering that he spent most of his time in the NFL, and that’s typically where the least longevity lies. When it comes to the ultimate prize, he won more combined titles (14) than most high schools have done in their entire history and all but three colleges.

The one major thing that stands out, though, is the championships. When Pete Carroll won the Super Bowl with the Seahawks, he became the third coach to win an NCAA title and the Super Bowl. Brown is still the only coach to win a state title, national title, and NFL championship. His success — no matter level — makes him the greatest football coach ever.

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