ShareThis Page
News Columnists

Brown remembered as talented Steelers QB

| Saturday, Aug. 11, 2007

Ed Brown fits in somewhere between Bobby Layne and Terry Bradshaw on the Steelers' all-time quarterback depth chart, so you can be excused for not remembering his football career in Pittsburgh more distinctly.

Brown, who died recently in Kennewick, Wash., of prostate cancer, had a knack for making big plays in the passing game before delivering the long ball was considered cool.

He was the Steelers' starting quarterback in 1963 and '64 and is the answer to a trivia question: What quarterback in NFL history with more than 15,000 passing yards has the highest yards-per-completion average?

Brown passed for 15,600 yards and 102 touchdowns in 12 NFL seasons, including eight with the Chicago Bears. His 16.44-yard average on only 949 career completions is the best in league history.

By the time Brown took the field as Layne's hand-picked successor following two Pro Bowl seasons with the Bears, he was pushing 35 and seemingly on the downside of his career.

Nevertheless, good, old No. 15, who joined the NFL two years late following a stint with the Marines, managed to crank up his arm to the tune of 168 for 362 passing for 2,982 yards, 21 touchdowns and 20 interceptions in 1963.

"Brown had a real good year,'' recalled Steelers chairman Dan Rooney, who is entering his 50th season with the organization. "He came in and backed up Bobby Layne and this was his first year as a starter.''

Brown, who was also a punter with Chicago, produced the eighth-best season for a quarterback in Steelers history. That same year he tied for fifth on the team's all-time list for most touchdown passes in a season and had four touchdowns in a win against Dallas. Bradshaw is the only Steeler to throw for more touchdowns in a season.

Coach Buddy Parker's Steelers went 7-4-3 with Brown at the helm in 1963. It followed a year in which the Steelers finished 9-5 and lost to Detroit in the now-defunct Playoff Bowl with Layne under center, and would be the team's last winning season until an 11-3 record with coach Chuck Noll in 1972.

Brown was the only Steelers quarterback with a winning record in the years spanning from Layne to Bradshaw, who led the '72 squad.

The '63 Steelers scored 321 points, a mark that stood until 1972 as the highest total in franchise history.

Brown's top receiving threat was Buddy Dial, who had 60 catches for 1,295 yards and nine touchdowns. Dial's 21.6 yards-per-catch average that season remains the highest in Steelers history for players with more than 40 catches.

Rooney said he believed Brown could have led the Steelers to the playoffs in '63, as Layne had done the year before. He pointed to a 33-17 loss to the New York Giants in the final game of the season in which the defense failed to get the ball back to the Steelers' high-scoring offense late in the contest.

"Brown was a big guy with a strong arm. He was capable,'' Rooney said. "If he had been with us the whole time, I think we would have won a lot of games. I think we could have even won the championship. He was that good for us.''

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me