Flashback 50: the January 12, 1964 Pro Bowl

2014 marks the semicentennial anniversary of Cleveland’s last championship season in any major pro sport. Throughout the year I’ll be revisiting the exploits of the 1964 Browns and their extraordinary journey to the NFL title.

I hope this provides readers with some reminders of fond memories, or (if you’re like me and too young to have lived through it) a richer connection with the Browns’ winning football heritage. Sadly, it’s been too long since we’ve been on top, and the state of the current Browns organization has me despairing of the outsize investment I’ve made following this franchise over the course of my life.

Maybe this year-long exercise will help reinforce some of the core aspects that make (or made) Browns fandom such a captivating pastime.

Fifty years ago today, the great Jim Brown rushed for a game-high 101 yards and two touchdowns. It was the Pro Bowl, the exhibition capping off the 1963 season, in which the Browns finished 10-4 and lost to the Packers in the Playoff Bowl, meaning that they finished fourth in the 14-team NFL. Some 67,242 were on hand at the Los Angeles Coliseum.

Cleveland’s magnificent fullback was joined by five teammates — LB Galen Fiss, DE Bill Glass, C John Morrow, DB Bernie Parrish, and LT Dick Schafrath — on the Eastern Conference squad, which lost 31-17 to a West team led by Baltimore Colts stars Johnny Unitas and Gino Marchetti.

In the first quarter, Glass tipped and intercepted a Unitas pass, leading to a field goal and a 3-0 East lead, but the West basically dominated throughout, with Brown’s scoring runs of eight and three yards coming in garbage time.

Jim Brown carried the load for the East, who played without injured QB Y.A. Tittle, the league’s MVP in 1963