July shall not elude us without extending birthday greetings to the four former Browns born on July 31.
Tim Couch turns 39 today. The face of the reborn Browns franchise was cut loose over 12 years ago now, the victim of shoulder problems. The Kentucky quarterback suffered the growing pains of the expansion era, never quite growing into the player he was drafted and paid to become. But he was not nearly the bust that is often portrayed. Ill-served by two coaching regimes and plagued by injuries, he still ranks fifth in team history in career passing yards. And without his game efforts leading four comeback wins in 2002, the new Browns wouldn’t have a single playoff season.
Larry Poole, the Akron native who played running back for the Browns in the mid-’70s, celebrates his 64th birthday today. The Kent State star was an NFL backup, but he did have one very unusual statistical flourish. All three of his career receiving touchdowns came in the fourth quarter of the same 1977 game. Alas, the comeback scores from Dave Mays (relieving the injured Brian Sipe) were one too few, as the Browns fell in Pittsburgh, 35-31.
Antonio Langham, one of three men to play with both the original and reborn Browns, is now 44. The cornerback’s career ultimately fell short of his potential, but it wasn’t a total waste. The ninth-overall pick in 1994 started all 18 games as a rookie on Bill Belichick’s defensive-minded playoff team. Ball’s in your court, Justin Gilbert.
Poole and Langham (official first name: Collie) each wore the number 38 jersey and are arguably the most productive Browns to don those digits.
And speaking of that number, happy 38th to Nick Sorensen, a special-teams standout from 2007 to 2010. The predecessor to Michael Vick as a college quarterback, he converted to safety and survived 10 years in the NFL (and 15 concussions, by his own count!) without starting a single game. He’s now on the Seahawks’ coaching staff.