Crazy Canton Cuts = Mac Speedie

JW NixSenior Writer IIMarch 15, 2009

Mac Speedie
6'3" 203
Wide Receiver
Cleveland Browns
1946 - 1952
7 Seasons
86 Games Played
349 Catches
5,602 Yards
33 Touchdowns
5 Pro Bowls

Mac Curtis Speedie was drafted by the Detroit Lions in the 15th round of the 1942 draft. He was the 154th player picked overall. Mac went to high school in Utah, and tied a National High School record in the 120-meter high hurdles of 14.7 seconds.

Speedie then went to the University of Utah, where he was an Honorable Mention All American in football. He also was a record setting hurdler in college, and led Utah to the NCAA Track and Field Championship game in 1942. Mac Speedie is a member of the Utah football Centennial Team, the Crimson Club Hall of Fame, and Utah Sports Hall of Fame.

Mac had to serve in the Army because of World War 2. While playing football on base, he was recruited by Hall of Fame Coach Paul Brown to play for his expansion Cleveland Browns in the fledgling All American Football Conference.

Speedie joined the Browns in 1946 at 26 years old after the Browns offered him twice as much money as Detroit. The plan was to play him at Defensive End, but the Browns quickly Mac to Split End. His impact was immediate. Though he only started 10 of 14 games in his rookie year, Speedie scored a career high seven touchdowns on 24 receptions.

Mac also averaged a career high 23.5 yards per catch. He started nine of 14 games in 1947, but managed to snare a career high 67 balls. He scored six times, and gained a career high 1,146 yards. He scored one touchdown on a 99 yard jaunt. He was named to his first All Pro team that year, and would continue to be given that accolade every year of his career, except one. Mac snagged 58 passes for 816 yards in 1948, and followed that up the next year with 62 receptions for 1,028 yards. He also matched his career high of seven touchdowns. It would be the last season that Mac would start a game again in his career.

Cleveland won the AAFC Championship every year that Speedie was with the Browns and lost only 4 games total. The AAFC folded after 1949, and the Browns joined the NFL. They won the 1950 NFL Championship, as Speedie caught 42 passes. Mac managed to catch 34 balls the next year before suffering a knee injury in week 10, causing him to miss the rest of the season. The Browns got back to the NFL Championship game, but lost.

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In 1952, Speedie returned to catch 62 passes for 911 yards and 5 touchdowns. He suffered a knee injury in the season finale, which would be his last season in the NFL. Cleveland would go on to lose in the championship game. Mac was named to his final All Pro team that year. He also was named the teams MVP.

Speedie's next move took Browns fans by surprise, when he bolted for the Canadian Football League. There are several theories surrounding this move. One is his personality clash with Hall Of Fame Coach Paul Brown. Brown was known as a strict disciplinarian, while Speedie was known as a free spirit.

Before the 1952 season had begun, Mac showed up at the Browns training camp with a skunk he had named "Paul". Another theory was that when Speedie asked for a raise, he was rebuffed, so he took the more lucrative CFL offer. Also, there was a story that Speedie, now 33 years old, thought that he would be phased further out of the offense.

Speedie joined the Saskatchewan Roughriders, and was All-CFL in 1953 and 1954. In 1955, Mac broke his leg and retired at the end of the year. He didn't stay away from the game long. He was lured by an ex-Browns teammate, Lou Rymkus, to join him in coaching the expansion Houston Oilers in the newly formed American Football Conference in 1960.

Houston would go on to win the first AFL Championship. Rymkus was fired shortly into the 1961 season, so Speedie resigned as well. The Denver Broncos then hired Speedie as their Receivers Coach in 1963. He held that position until the 1964 season, when he was promoted to Head Coach four weeks into the season. Mac held the position until he resigned two games into the 1966 season, accepting a position with the team as a scout. His coaching record was 6-19-1.

It is evident on the influence Paul Brown has used to hold many hostage, including the respect due for Mac. It took the Browns until 1999 to put him on their Honor Roll. This move was made by then Browns owner Al Lerner. Problem was, Mac had died in 1993. Still, kudos to the late Mr. Lerner for doing something Art Modell had not done. Some say Modell had promised Paul Brown to not honor Speedie.

The lasting disdain Brown had for Mac was on display in 1977. Browns and Mac met for the first time in 25 years at a college all star game. When Speedie tried to approach Brown, he was given the cold shoulder and was referred to as, "the one who went to Canada."

Whatever Paul Brown's problem was, it should not have effected the voters from seeing the reality. Mac Speedie helped the Browns reach the championship game in each season he played, as the Browns won five. He was an All Pro every season that he played in the AAFC, NFL, and CFL except three seasons in 10 years. He averaged over 16 yards a reception for his career, which is very impressive in any era.

Remember, this is the PRO FOOTBALL Hall Of Fame I am talking about. The AAFC and CFL both fall under this category. Speedie has made it into the final selection process several times, but has fallen short so far. He spent the last years of his life lamenting how Paul Brown had been preventing his induction. I wouldn't be surprised if Paul's son, Mike, is carrying on this spite filled campaign.

If the voters would just let this vindictive hatred lay with Paul Brown in his grave, where it belongs, they would then allow the facts of Speedie's gridiron career take its rightful forefront in this debate. One also must remember that Speedie lost four years of his career due to WW2.

It is sad that Mac has passed on, and cannot be part of this long overdue induction. There is NO question that Mac Speedie belongs in Canton.

Notable Players Drafted In 1942 * Denote Hall Of Famer

1. Bill Dudley, RB, Pittsburgh *
5. Bob Westfall, FB, Detroit
6. Spec Sanders, RB, Washington
10. Frankie Albert, QB, Chicago Bears
13. Vic Lindskog, C, Philadephia
21. Rufus Deal, DB, Washington
26. Mal Kutner, End, Pittsburgh
34. Bob Reinhard, T, Chicago Cardinals
36. Joe Zeno, G, Washington
38. Al Blozis, T, NY Giants
70. Frank Maznicki, RB, Chicago Bears
80. John Petty, FB, Chicago Bears
156. George Watts, T, Washington


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