A sure-handed end and original Cleveland Brown who made All-AAFC and NFL All-Pro during his memorable career.
Dante Lavelli was born February 23, 1923 in Hudson, Ohio. His illustrious football career got off to a stunted start at Ohio State University. Lavelli was able to play only three games before being drafted into military service in World War II.
However, his performance impressed his coach, Paul Brown. In 1946, Brown invited Lavelli to try out for the new team he was forming for the AAFC, the Cleveland Browns. As the team’s starting right end, Lavelli led the AAFC in receptions (40) and reception yardage (843). His catch of the winning touchdown led the Browns to a victory over the New York Yanks in the league championship.
An outstanding clutch performer and precise runner, his sure-handedness earned him the nickname “Glue Fingers” from teammates. Lavelli was All-AAFC in 1946 and 1947. After the AAFC folded in 1949 and the Browns joined the NFL, Lavelli was All-Pro in 1951 and 1953.
One of the greatest examples of Lavelli’s abilities was in the 1950 NFL championship when he helped bring the Browns a 30-28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams, catching 11 passes and scoring two touchdowns.
Lavelli retired after the 1956 season with a career record of 386 receptions for 6,488 yards – a 16.8 yard average – and 68 touchdowns.
He was elected to the National Football Hall of Fame in 1975 and the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame in 1981.