Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote Its Values & Celebrate Excellence Everywhere
"I was as big as the linemen I ran against, so I didn’t worry about them. And once I ran over a back twice, I didn’t have to run over him a third time. He had reservations by then.”
(South Carolina State)...6'1'', 232...Marion Motley. . .Deadly pass blocker, peerless runner on Browns' famed trap play. . .Also played linebacker early in career. . .All-time AAFC rushing champ. . .Top NFL rusher, 1950. . .All-AAFC four years, All-NFL in 1950. . .Lifetime rushing: 828 carriers, 4,720 yards. . .5.7-yard career average all-time record. . .Caught 85 passes, scored 234 points in nine years. . .Played in 1951 Pro Bowl. . .Born June 5, 1920, in Leesburg, Georgia. . . Died June 27, 1999, at age of 79.
In 1946, one year before Jackie Robinson signed with baseball’s Brooklyn Dodgers, four players smashed pro football’s race barrier. The trailblazers were Marion Motley and Bill Willis, who signed with the Cleveland Browns of the new All-America Football Conference, and Kenny Washington and Woody Strode, who signed with the National Football League’s Los Angeles Rams. Injuries ended Washington’s career after three seasons, while Strode played just the 1946 season.
Motley and Willis, however, went on to have Hall of Fame careers. Motley joined the Browns as a 26-year-old rookie. Browns’ coach Paul Brown was already familiar with Motley, having coached the big fullback at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station during World War II.
He also knew Motley from his high school playing days in Canton, Ohio. Paul coached football at neighboring Massillon High School. Motley, with his powerful running on Cleveland's famed trap and draw series, made the Browns' ground game go, but he is also credited with vital contributions to the Cleveland passing attack, because his blocking for quarterback Otto Graham was exceptional.
At 6-1 and 232 pounds, Motley was an imposing figure. The constant threat of him hurtling up the middle kept the defenses honest. Marion was the AAFC's all-time rushing leader and also led the NFL in ground gaining in his initial season in the league in 1950. That year, in a game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, the powerful Motley rushed for 188 yards on just 11 carries for a 17.1 yards-per-carry average.
In his nine professional seasons, he amassed 4,720 yards on 828 carries for an amazing 5.7 yards-per-carry average. When he retired Marion held a host of Browns' club records. In addition to be elected to the Hall of Fame in 1968, Motley was named in 1994 to the NFL’s 75th Anniversary All-Time Team.
1946 AAFC – Cleveland Brown 14, New York Yankees 9
Motley started as fullback. He had 13 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown.
1947 AAFC – Cleveland Browns 14, New York Yankees 3
Motley started as fullback. He had 13 carries for 109 yards and one punt return for two yards.
1948 AAFC – Cleveland Browns 49, Buffalo Bills 7
Motley started as fullback. He had 14 carries for 133 yards including TD runs of runs of 29, 31, and 5 yards. He also had one reception for 13 yards.
1949 AAFC – Cleveland Browns 21, San Francisco 49ers 7
Motley started as fullback. He had 13 carries for 98 yards and a touchdown run of 63 yards.
1950 NFL – Cleveland Browns 30, Los Angeles Rams 28
Motley started at fullback. He carried the ball six times for nine yards and caught a pass for minus two yards.
1951 NFL – Los Angeles Rams 24, Cleveland Browns 17
Motley started at fullback. He carried the ball five times for 23 yards. He also caught one pass for 23 yards.
1952 NFL – Detroit Lions 17, Cleveland Browns 7
Motley played but did not start. He ran the ball six times for 74 yards and had three receptions for 21 yards.
1953 NFL – Detroit Lions 17, Cleveland Browns 16
Motley played but did not start. He had no carries in the game.
All-NFL: 1950 (AP, UPI, NY)
All-Pro: 1948 (AP, SN)
All-Pro Second Team: 1946 (AP), 1947 (AP)
All-AAFC: 1946 (UPI, NY, OA) • 1947 (NY, OA) • 1948 (UPI, NY, OA) • 1949 (NY)
All-AAFC Second Team: 1949 (UPI, OA)
(1) – 1951
Browns’ records held by Motley
(Records through the 1953 season, Motley’s final season with Cleveland)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Career – 826
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Season – 157 (1948)
• [1st] Most Rushing Attempts, Game – 27 (vs. Washington, Nov. 19, 1950)
• [1st] Most Yards Rushing, Career – 4,712
• [1st] Most Yards Rushing, Season – 964 (1948)
• [1st] Most Yards, Gained, Rushing, Game – 188 (vs. Pittsburgh, Oct. 29, 1950)
• [1st] Longest Run From Scrimmage – 76 (vs. Buffalo, Nov. 24, 1946)
• [1st] Most Kickoff Returns, Game – 5 (vs. San Francisco, Oct. 9, 1949)
League Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1948A, 1950
Team Statistical Championships
Rushing Titles: 1946A, 1947A, 1948A, 1949A, 1950, 1952
Kickoff Return Titles: 1949
A All-America Football Conference
• 75th Anniversary All-Time Team
• 75th Anniversary All-Two-Way Team
• 1940’s All-Decade Team
Full name: Marion Motley
Birthdate: June 5, 1920
Birthplace: Leesburg, Georgia
Died: June 27, 1999 in Cleveland, Ohio
High School: McKinley (Canton, OH)
Enshrined into Pro Football Hall of Fame: August 3, 1968
Presenter: Bill Willis, former Cleveland Browns teammate
Other Members of the Class of 1968: Cliff Battles, Art Donovan, Elroy Hirsch, Wayne Millner, Charley Trippi, Alex Wojciechowicz
Pro Career: 9 Seasons, 106 Games
Drafted: Not drafted. Signed as a free agent with Cleveland Browns in 1946.
Transactions: Sept. 7, 1955 – Motley traded by Cleveland Browns to Pittsburgh Steelers in exchange for fullback Ed Modzelewski.
Uniform Number: #76 (also wore #36 for a brief period of his career).
Marion Motley Enshrinement Speech 1968
Presenter: Bill Willis
Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you Reverend clergy, honorable Mayor, member of the Football Hall of Fame, friends. I am extremely proud to be a part of this program, and to have the privilege of presenting to you the greatest all-around football player in professional history. It gives me a great deal of pleasure to present to the fans of Canton their own Marion Motley. Marion Motley was a legendary here at Canton McKinley, where the last three seasons he played, he lost one game each. That one game was lost to Paul Brown of Massillon. Marion later went to the University of Nevada, where he followed Jimmy Aken and made, remade the record book there. He later caught up with Paul Brown at Great Lakes where he was instrumental in defeating Notre Dame in 1945.
The Cleveland Browns were organized in 1946. About a week after they were organized, Paul Brown realized that he did not have what it took to win the Championship, so he called Marion Motley - the rest is history. Every year that the Cleveland Browns participated in the All-American Conference they won the championship. Marion Motley was the leading rusher in the All-American Conference. Whenever you think of the Cleveland Browns, you must think of Paul Brown -- really. Whenever you think of Paul Brown, you think of Marion and you think of Otto Graham. But you can neither think of Otto Graham the Paul Browns or the Cleveland Browns without thinking of Marion Motley. He was truly a complete football player, and for a team as the Cleveland Browns were in those days who were titled to be a passing club, Motley gained 4,712 yards and made 39 touchdowns. So, it gives me a distinct pleasure to present to the Hall of Fame the greatest full-back of all times, Marion Motley.
Thank you, Bill, and I'd like to thank the many friends that have come to pay tribute to seven of us today. I look out over these crowd, and I see many faces that I know that I've gone to school with. And it makes a person being from his hometown, of being presented into the Hall of Fame, in the hometown. It's a wonderful feeling. I've been asked many times in the last two or three days as to how you feel, or what will be your feeling. Well, trying to express or say how you feel about this, going into the Hall of Fame, it's rather hard. I'd like to thank the many teammates that I've played with that helped me to be the so-called player that I was at that particular time. Fellows like Bill Willis, Lin Houston, Cliff Lewis, Dante Lavelli, and many others that I could go on and name, but it would take quite a while. But I'd just like to say again, I'd like to thank everyone for coming and thank the people that inducted me into the Hall of Fame. Thank you very much.