The Logan Files, Part 2

Dave Logan could have played Major League Baseball or in the NBA. Fortunately for Cleveland Browns fans, he chose to play football instead. In the second part of Rich Passan's interview with the terrific Browns receiver, Logan recalls his days with Rutigliano, Sipe and the Kardiac Kids.

Dave Logan spent eight seasons with the Browns from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s. The angular wide receiver was not what you'd call spectacular. Just dependable. And that was more than enough to endear him to the club's faithful fans.

When a clutch catch was essential to keep a drive alive, the 6-4 Logan more often than not heard his number called in the huddle by quarterback Brian Sipe during the rockin' and rollin' Kardiac Kids era. And his huge and very sure hands enabled him to make those catches.

Logan, now living in Denver as a highly successful high school football coach, radio talk-show host and play-by-play man for the Broncos, left some sizable imprints on the Cleveland sports scene in his eight seasons with the Browns. He ranks seventh on the Browns' all-time list with 4,247 receiving yards. He caught 262 passes and turned 24 of them into touchdowns. During the Kardiac Kids run from 1978 to 1980, he caught 147 passes for 2,389 yards and 15 touchdowns.

In the second of this two-part Orange & Brown Report interview with Logan, we find out how he decided on football after being drafted by teams in the NBA and Major League Baseball; how two Hall of Famers helped ease his transition to the NFL; just how close the Kardiac team was; his thoughts on the Browns' move to Baltimore; and what he thinks of today's Browns.

The OBR: All right, let's build a bridge to the Cleveland Browns. You and Dave Winfield are the only athletes ever to be drafted by teams in three major sports leagues. By the Browns, of course, in the NFL, by the Cincinnati Reds in baseball and the old Kansas City Kings of the NBA. How did you decide on football?

Dave Logan.: I had broken my ankle playing basketball three weeks before the NFL draft. I had that surgery. We sent out a letter to all NFL teams that the ankle eventually would heal and I would be fine, but when I was drafted by the Browns, at that point I'm thinking that very well might be my future. The (NBA's Kansas City) Kings had drafted me and what they said was, "If you go back to school" – I had one year left in basketball because I had red-shirted one year due to a football injury – they said, "If you go back and just play basketball and not have to worry about playing basketball immediately after you play football, we'll contractually give you this, this and this." I just was ready for the challenge (of playing in the NFL). I thought that was the right way to go.

The OBR: How much of a shot did baseball have?

D.L.: It really didn't because at that point, when (the Cincinnati Reds) drafted me, if I had signed a contract with them, I could not have played any sport in college. They've since changed that rule.

The OBR: OK, you get to Cleveland at a pretty good time. It was just a year or two before the dawn of the Kardiac Kids. When you got there, what were your initial thoughts of the town, the fans and the whole situation?

D.L.: I had never been to the state of Ohio. I had never been east of Kansas. It was a real eye opener for me. And the Browns had won three games the year before. Mike Pruitt and I were the top two (Browns) draft choices that year and we actually played in the College All-Star Game, which was the last one they ever played. So we were three weeks, almost a month late getting to camp. Both of us were behind. Two things I can remember that popped into my mind: Paul Warfield had just come back to Cleveland and really was so very gracious with his time and would talk to young receivers. And my receivers coach was Raymond Berry. So I had two Hall of Fame guys who led me down the path, so to speak. I benefited as a young player. I didn't have to play a lot my first year. I played special teams and could kind of sit back and find what the NFL was going to be all about.

The OBR: Then Sam Rutigliano comes on board as the coach and a lot of good things began to happen and you were part of that. What was that like, the Kardiac Kids days? How would you describe them?

D.L.: The ultimate rollercoaster ride. Plenty of thrills. A few bumps and bruises. Just an immense amount of fun. I'm not sure how, but we developed a personality that no matter what happened during the course of a game, we always felt like we could come back and find a way to win the game and I think it started a little bit in 1978, which was Sam's first year. It continued in 1979 and really blossomed in 1980 and if you look at the 1980 team, we started the season 0-2 and wound up winning 11. And of those 11 wins, I think nine of those we came from behind in the last two minutes of the game. So we really developed a great deal of confidence and trust in each other and it was kind of a magical season.

The OBR: It looked like you guys were having a lot of fun out there. How much of a trickle down was that from the coach?

D.L.: It was a really close team. I still talk to some of the guys on that team on a semi-regular basis. Reggie Rucker and Ozzie Newsome and Brian Sipe and Doug Dieken and Robert Jackson. I could name the whole team. We were not only teammates on the field, we were good friends off the field. We would hang out together. We developed a really cool camaraderie that frankly you don't see a lot of today in professional sports, certainly in the NFL.

The OBR: In 1995, when you saw what was happening in Cleveland and what turned out to be the move to Baltimore, what went through your mind having been here and played for this team? What were your immediate thoughts?

D.L.: I was really saddened. I was doing a talk show in Denver at that time and I distinctly remember saying on the air that there was no way that team would leave Cleveland. And you kept reading and hearing that things weren't going well and there was a pretty good chance that they would move. And I firmly believed that somebody would step in with a bit of common sense and even if it were the 11th hour, that thing would get derailed and the Browns would wind up staying. And of course when they moved, I was shocked and saddened. I know how much the Browns mean to Cleveland. They're one of the storied franchises in the NFL. I still to this day can't believe that I actually witnessed what happened.

The OBR: Now we have come full circle. Cleveland's got the team back. The Browns had a very good season in 2007. What can you tell Browns fans who yearn for those championship days that you experienced? What can you tell them as far as hope is concerned?

D.L.: It looked like last year they kind of got things back on track. They've got an exciting team. You look at them offensively and look at guys who can make plays. They have started to accumulate some of those guys in Kellen Winslow Jr. and Braylon Edwards and I like (Derek) Anderson the quarterback. You look at Jamal (Lewis) at running back. They've got some of the pieces that I think you have to have. In order to win today in the NFL, you have to have playmakers on offense. You have to have the ability to make plays at crucial times. Guys who will catch the ball when they're covered, running backs who can pick up tough yards in the fourth quarter, quarterbacks who choose the right place to throw the ball. They look like they're starting to really kind of have a nucleus of guys like that. And I believe, even though defense is important and you have to be able to stop people when you need to, you still have to be able to make a play on the offensive side of the ball and I think they're real close to having all the components for an outstanding team.

The OBR: And if you see the Cleveland Browns in a championship atmosphere, how will you as a former Brown who now lives in Denver and calls Broncos games, how is that going to make you feel?

D.L.: I would be immensely proud and if there was any way if I were not working, I would be at that game. There's no question about that. I spent eight years in Cleveland. In terms of my NFL team, that's where my heart lies. Now I'm very fortunate to be an NFL broadcaster for a very good franchise here in Denver, but the reality of it is I played in Cleveland. That's how I look at my career. So if they were to make a serious run and find a way to make it to the Super Bowl, which I hope happens before we're all gone, I will be at that game. No question.

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