"The night before the camp started that year I packed a bag and got ready. I thought somebody would pick me up in the morning and take me out there. Of course, no one showed up. I guess they didn't even know I was alive. I waited all morning with my bag packed, and then I realized they weren't coming for me. I couldn't eat or sleep for the next two days."
Finally, Brown's father, a railroad employee in Massillon, bundled up the youngster and took him to Turkeyfoot Lake, where the Massillon team was training. Dave Stewart, the coach, needed a hundred-pound quarterback like he needed a seventh-string water boy. Why he accepted the skinny 13-year-old no one knows. He did, though.
"More than anyone else, he taught me to love football and to enjoy it," Brown said 40 years later. "I got a lot of my football philosophy from Stewart."
Paul grew from a 100-pound weakling to a 140-pound upstart under Stewart's coaching. He was the regular quarterback for the Massillon team his last two years. So closely did his mind mesh with Stewart's that the coach let Brown make the substitutions from the field during his senior year. The experience, Brown feels, probably started him on his way to coaching.
"I went to Ohio State then," Brown said. He interrupted his story for a moment when two little girls, dragging a reluctant puppy, ran up to him and stopped, waiting expectantly. He fished in his pocket and came up with candy, which he gave them. "I always carry candy for them," he said as the girls ran away. "I've always wished Katy and I had a girl." (They have three sons, all of them at one time or another football players. Peter, 19, is currently a sophomore linebacker at Denison University in Ohio. Mike, 26, a Cleveland lawyer, was first-string quarterback at Dartmouth; and Robin, 29, now a manufacturer in Arkansas, played briefly at Miami in Florida before an injury cut short his career.)
"They didn't want any 140-pound backs at Ohio State," Brown said, resuming his reminiscing. "I stayed there a year and found out I wasn't going to get a chance, and transferred to Miami of Ohio the next year. It cost me a year's eligibility, but I got to play two years of college football."
Brown weighed 154 as quarterback at Miami. Says George Rider, who was athletic director there at the time: "When he played for us he had legs that looked like gas pipes. He was one of the smallest but smartest quarterbacks I've ever seen anyplace."
Brown survived. When he finished at Miami he began, in 1930, what has since become undoubtedly the most successful coaching career, at all levels, in the history of football.
His high school teams (Severn Prep and Massillon) in 11 years won 96 games, lost nine and tied three. At Massillon his teams outscored opponents 3,202 to 339. At Ohio State, from 1941 through 1943, Brown won 18 games, lost eight and tied one. His service team, Great Lakes Naval Station, won 15, lost five and tied two in two seasons.
It was while he was coaching at Great Lakes that Brown was persuaded to sign as head football coach and general manager of the Cleveland Browns. Arch Ward, then the sports editor of the Chicago Tribune and a prime mover in the formation of the old All-America Football Conference, induced Brown to give up college football for the pros. Since Mickey McBride, the Cleveland owner, offered Brown $25,000 a year plus 15% of the team's profit and a retainer of $1,000 a month during the rest of Brown's service in the Navy, it did not take much persuasion. Had Brown returned to Ohio State, his salary would have been $9,000 a year.