American football player, a quarterback whose success with the Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) after World War II (1939-45) helped merge the Browns into the National Football League (NFL) in 1950. He led the Browns to the championship game for ten consecutive seasons (1946-55) and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Graham attended Northwestern University, where he was a football and basketball All-American. He served in the navy from 1944 to 1945 and joined the Cleveland Browns when the AAFC was founded in 1946. In four seasons with the AAFC, Graham led the Browns to all four championships, throwing 86 touchdown passes and ending with an overall record of 52 wins, 4 losses, and 3 ties. When the Browns joined the NFL for the 1950 season, critics of the AAFC expected them to falter, but Graham quarterbacked them to another championship, throwing four touchdown passes in the 30-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Although the Browns reached the final the next three years, they lost each time. Graham played especially well in the last 2 championship finals, passing for three touchdowns while running for three more against the Detroit Lions in 1954 and throwing for two and running for two touchdowns against the Rams in 1955. He led the NFL in passing in 1953 and 1955 and threw for 88 touchdowns and more than 13,000 yards in his six NFL seasons. He retired after the 1955 season. Graham later coached for the United States Coast Guard Academy and the Washington Redskins.
Back to the Biographies Page