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Underrated Receiver of the 1950s

The Game Before the Money Podcast spoke with Pete Brewster about his nine seasons in the NFL — including seven with Paul Brown’s legendary Cleveland Browns of the 1950s — in Episode 25 of the football history podcast.

Otto Graham made a compliment to me one year. He said he thought that I was the most underrated receiver in the league. I take that as a great compliment, especially coming from Otto Graham.”

– Pete Brewster

An Outstanding Career

Pete Brewster was born in 1930. He played for the great Paul Brown in the 1950s. Brewster won two championships with the Cleveland Browns and led the NFL in yards per catch in 1957. He finished in the top 10 in receiving yards three times. He ended his NFL career with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1960. Afterward, Pete Brewster got into coaching. He won a Super Bowl ring as an assistant coach to Hank Stram on that great Kansas City Chiefs team that won Super Bowl IV.

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Collecting Receiving Yards

Brewster caught only four passes his rookie year of 1952, but one went for 47 yards and a touchdown. The Browns fell to the Lions in the 1952 NFL championship game, 17-7. Pete, however, led the Browns with 53 yards receiving in that championship game. Brewster got a greater opportunity to play in his second season, an opportunity that a teammate told him was coming.

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“The second year, Mac Speedie went to Canada and played in the Canadian League for more money than he was getting here,” Brewster remembered. “He called me and said, ‘Pete, I’m jumpin’ the league and I’m going up to Canada. You have a chance here to make a little more money and ask for a bigger raise.’ Which wasn’t very much, but it was some.”

Brewster landed a more prominent spot in 1953, his second year with the Browns. He gained over 600 yards receiving and averaged nearly 20 yards per catch, finishing third in the league that season. He also scorched the New York Giants one Sunday for 182 yards and three touchdowns.

Winning Championships with the Browns

Brewster and the Browns kept winning during the 1950s. The Cleveland Browns played in six straight NFL championship games. They even played in seven of the first eight NFL championship games of the 1950s. That was after the Browns won all four AAFC championship games during the 1940s. So between the AAFC and the NFL, Cleveland made the championship game ten straight times. That’s a complete decade of consecutive championship game appearances. Pete Brewster won back-to-back championships with the Browns in 1954 and 1955. He caught a touchdown pass in that 1954 championship. He also made a key catch in the 1956 Pro Bowl that helped the East squad sneak out a one-point victory.

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The Browns made the NFL championship game again in 1957 but lost to the Detroit Lions. You can hear more about that Detroit Lions team in the Roger Zatkoff episode of The Game Before the Money Podcast.

Looking for a great NFL history book? Check out The Game Before the Money: Voices of the Men Who Built the NFL available at — Amazon.com – Barnes and Noble – University of Nebraska Press

Like sports history? Listen to The Game Before the Money Podcast! Most episodes include stories from legendary football starts.

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