Browns to honor Otto Graham with statue at FirstEnergy Stadium (7.30.19)
By Andrew Gribble, ClevelandBrowns.com Senior Manager, Digital Media
The Cleveland Browns will honor Pro Football Hall of Fame quarterback Otto Graham at FirstEnergy Stadium with a statue in his likeness, as announced by Dee and Jimmy Haslam. The team, which continues to evaluate opportunities to recognize additional major team contributors with commissioned pieces at FirstEnergy Stadium, will unveil its second sculpture during the Browns’ Fantennial Weekend, which is scheduled for Sept. 6-8.
“As we celebrate the NFL’s 100th season, we are honored to pay tribute to Otto Graham with this timeless sculpture that will properly recognize him not only as one of the Browns’ top players but also as one of pro football’s greatest all-time quarterbacks,” said the Haslams. “This year’s Alumni Weekend will be truly special as we welcome many of our Browns Legends back home in Cleveland, as well as have the opportunity to thank and host many members of Otto Graham’s family.”
The Graham statue unveiling and 2019 Browns Alumni Weekend are key elements to celebrate the team’s and NFL’s past, present and future during Browns Fantennial Weekend as teams across the league host Fantennial Weekends throughout the year in honor of the NFL’s 100th season. Browns fans are encouraged to attend the statue reveal on Saturday afternoon, followed by Browns alumni appearances, autograph sessions and other exciting activations on Dawg Pound Drive. On Friday, Sept. 6, Browns alumni and representatives will also interact with local youth and high school football programs to connect the team’s treasured past with the next generation of players and fans who love the game.
The Browns once again commissioned nationally-recognized sculptor David L. Deming for the statue, which will be erected outside of the southeast corner of FirstEnergy Stadium. Hailing from Lakewood, Ohio, Deming has created many distinguished pieces that are featured throughout Cleveland and the United States, including the statue of Hall of Fame running back Jim Brown, which was unveiled in 2016 outside of the southeast corner of FirstEnergy Stadium.
Graham’s grandson, Ryan Vanname — who will be among the numerous friends and relatives of Graham in attendance for the statue’s unveiling — received a sneak peak of the sculpture earlier this spring.
“It’s amazing,” Vanname said. “I know my family will definitely be proud of the work (Deming) did on this because right when I walked in it’s like, ‘that’s him. That’s my grandfather.’”
Graham, who is widely considered to be one of the best quarterbacks in the game’s history, was a member of the first Browns team in 1946 and played all 10 of his professional seasons in Cleveland. With Graham under center, the Browns appeared in 10 consecutive title games, winning four All-America Football Conference championships (1946, 1947, 1948, 1949) and three NFL championships (1950, 1954, 1955).
In his final game with the Browns, Graham — who announced his retirement after the 1954 season only to be wooed back for one more year — threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more in a 38-14 NFL Championship victory over the Los Angeles Rams. For his career, Graham threw for 23,584 yards with 174 passing touchdowns, 44 rushing touchdowns and was voted all-league in nine of his 10 seasons.
Graham, who died in December 2003 at the age of 82, was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965. He was a part of the Browns’ inaugural class of Browns Legends in 2001 and inducted into the Browns’ Ring of Honor along with the rest of the team’s Pro Football Hall of Fame members in 2010.
2019 Browns Alumni Weekend and Browns Fantennial Weekend culminate with the season opener vs. Tennessee at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday, Sept. 8. Throughout gameday, the Browns will recognize their championship teams, Browns Legends and pivotal moments in the franchise’s history.
Additional information on 2019 Browns Alumni Weekend and Browns Fantennial Weekend and how fans can join the festivities will be available closer to the season opener.