Dante Lavelli: 1923-2009

The Cleveland Browns community lost a great player last night and, more importantly, a great person. From 2002, here is Dante Lavelli in his own words, talking to Browns fans in our chat room.

Last night, the Cleveland sports world lost one if its most treasured and respected figures as Dante Lavelli passed away at the age of 85. "Glue Fingers" was arguably the greatest wide receiver in Browns history, but was perhaps a better person off the field than he was on it.

In honor of his memory, The Orange & Brown Report is proud to republish a chat Mr. Lavelli held with Browns fans on the site on May 22, 2002.

Rest in peace, #86.

 DanteLavelli

hello everybody
Joe168 We'd like to extend a warm welcome to Hall Of Famer, Mr. Dante Lavelli!
DanteLavelli i'm ready
DanteLavelli thank you for having me here tonight
DanteLavelli i'm getting some help so i can answer faster
Joe168 We are honored and we'll be starting momentarily
Joe168 WebDawg, you're up
WebDawg Mr. Lavelli, Thanks tons for stopping by. This is AWESOME to have a Hall of Famer take the time to join us. What differences do you see in the receiver position now from the past?
DanteLavelli number one difference is guys don't play the whole game. guys come out too much to get breaks. players today are as fast when we played but most don't catch the ball except for Cris Carter and Jerry Rice.
WebDawg Do you get to many games during the season?
DanteLavelli last year i went to all of the home games. i watch every game, even during the lean years, although most were on television.
WebDawg My uncle, Chuck Monte, saw you play many times and wanted me to say hi!
WebDawg That's all for me. Thanks again for chatting us.
DanteLavelli thank you
redright Memory lane. On my smaller than a bread box black and white tv set in the 40""s the Browns always wore white- even the helmet looked white. What was the uniform like? please describe. How different than today's uniform?
redright Lavelli and Speedie ==never better 1946 -52. Why didn't Speedie and Arthur B McBride get to the HOF?
DanteLavelli actually the league had certain colors for the home team and we had white ones and we had brown ones. the color depended on whether it was home or away. the bottoms were brown and the tops where white and vice versa. i think i remember wearing a orange jersey once.
DanteLavelli can't really remember which ones were home and away
redright 1950 the browns played the Eagles (supposed to be the best) and Finished the year with a 30-28 win. How many catches for Lavelli? Who made the game winning picK?
DanteLavelli it was the rams instead of the eagles. i had 12 catches. the rams use to throw the ball 50 times a game back then.
DanteLavelli lou groza kicked a 16 yard field goal to win the game. i remember the snow was really coming down on that last drive. we started on our 20 with 40 seconds left. i caught 5 passes in that drive and rex baumgardner had a big catch and run to set up the field goal.
redright It seems that the AAFC didn't get enough respect. What about the 1948 season with 3 big wins in 16 days or so?
DanteLavelli we had 3 wins in seven days in 48. we beat the yankees in new york on sunday, flew to cleveland that night, cleveland to chicago, chicago to denver, denver to LA and played the LA Dons on Thursday-Thanksgiving. then we flew to Frisco and played sunday and beat the 49ers. both the dons and 49ers were really good.
DanteLavelli the original browns won 29 games, including the three in 7 days. i wish mr tagliabue would honor those wins for the record book. he doesn't recognize the record because we didn't play all the games in the nfl.
DanteLavelli what i don't understand is that billy shaw is in the Hall of Fame but he never played a game in the nfl.
DanteLavelli he was deserving to be in, but the nfl has a double standard.
Aqib Its really great having you here. Can you tell us what it was like playing for Paul Brown
DanteLavelli i have a story
DanteLavelli about paul brown
DanteLavelli the browns were playing philadelphia eagles at municipal stadium around 51 or 52. the philadelphia coach said paul brown was coaching a basketball team which made coach brown's hair raise on the back of his neck. that sunday, we beat the eagles 14-9 i think and we never threw a pass. hard to believe. coach brown wanted to prove we didn't have to pass to win. he really took exception at that comment.
DanteLavelli sorry to ramble. i have a million stories. this is fun.
Joe168 You are not rambling, at all
Joe168 and we love the stories!
Aqib yes you have no idea how cool this is for us
DanteLavelli thank you. any more questions or should i keep going.
Joe168 we have a few more people in line
DanteLavelli go ahead.
Aqib Joe I got one more is thats ok
Joe168 No problem
Aqib How do you think the Browns teams you played on rank with some of the all time great teams, it seems to me you guys never get the proper respect
Aqib thanks again for coming
DanteLavelli you're right. i think we never got the proper respect because we weren't in new york or LA. i think our teams could compete today. the aafc didn't get a lot of respect.
DanteLavelli radio and television weren't as big back then so not as many people had an opportunity to see us play.
HellHound it's an honor mr. lavelli...i know you're still an avid fan and you're very opinionated about today's players...but, are there any current NFL players who you would have liked to have played with on the Browns teams of your era?
DanteLavelli there's a lot. mean joe green. joe montana. john elway. bradshaw. too tall jones. there is a lot of stand out players today because the defensive players overall aren't as good across the whole defense. maybe two or three really good players and a bunch of mediocre players. the team that wins the super bowl is the one with the most talented defensive players.
DanteLavelli back when i played each team had more than a few good guys on defense
HellHound thanks...are you still involved in the furniture business?
DanteLavelli yes. lavelli furniture in rocky river. 25 years there.
HellHound and you still are involved in the day-to-day operations?
DanteLavelli i want to keep the book straight on a few things
DanteLavelli the great players of my era.
DanteLavelli tom fears, elroy hirsch, frankie albert, lynn swann, john stallworth, gary collins, ray berry, art donovan, gino marchatti, otto graham, speedie lavelli, lou groza, motley. one of the best was arnie weinmaster tackle for the giants
DanteLavelli can't forget unitas, the bahr brothers-played 18-19 years or so. i could go on and on.
HellHound so, if i buy a couch, you think you could slip me an autograph for my dad?
DanteLavelli we have all kinds of autographs for people there.
HellHound thanks a lot for coming...i'm done...
Joe168 Very nice, what was the address?
DanteLavelli 19680 center ridge rd. rocky river ohio 44116
Joe168 BrownsFEVA, your up!
Joe168 Everyone know where to make furniture purchases now!
BrownsFEVA Dante: who was YOUR Mentor and how did he help?
DanteLavelli i didn't have one because i came back from overseas from the war, i was stationed in new york until i got out in 45. i went to a new york giants football game for free because they let you in if you had a army uniform on.
BrownsFEVA I agree that the NFL SHOULD recognize ALL the Browns records such as Motley's 5.7 career per carry.
DanteLavelli there was running back/flanker called steve bagarus that had down and out pass play down. when i came to cleveland i used to practice it all the time and that play is used by every team today.
DanteLavelli he made quite an impression on me.
Joe168 Where did you serve overseas?
DanteLavelli i served in the 28th infantry on the siegried line on the day the battle of the bulge began and i was in bastogne, plus i was in belgium, luxembourg, france, germany, alsace lorraine. walked everywhere backed then. i was lucky.
Joe168 wow!
DanteLavelli they pushed right past us during the bulge. i stayed in my foxhole for three days. there was only 12 of us left. the germans pushed 8 miles past us. they had tanks, half tracks. i said the our father continuously for three days non stop. we got away to the hertgen forest to regroup and find some of our guys. luckily we did.
Joe168 Amazing, i'll bet you weren't worried about a down and out pattern those 3 days!
DanteLavelli you bet.
DanteLavelli sorry to remininsce.
DanteLavelli any other questions. sorry i got off the football questions.
Joe168 yes, we have more
teco Hello Mr.lavelli....Did Coach Brown allow Otto to call any plays at the line? Audibles? what an honor this is!!
DanteLavelli yes. i have another story.
DanteLavelli paul brown used to call all the plays. we were playing detroit in 54 or so. we had a special meeting at the carter hotel the night before the game. paul's plays didn't always work. every team knew what we were going to run because he would call the same plays all the time. we decided to mix it up on our own.
DanteLavelli he didn't take it too well but it worked and he really couldn't do anything because of it.
teco good story Dante
DanteLavelli we won 56-14.
teco how does H. Gillum rate compared to Ray Guy?
DanteLavelli gillum has a yard or two on ray guy. every time we played at yankee stadium 50,000 people would come to see him punt before the game. he used to kick it higher than the stadium.
kabeee Hey Dante, can you tell us about he taxi squad and how that all got started? And what can we do to get those wins in the record book? We LOVE that this is fun for you cause it's a blast for us!!!!!!!!!
DanteLavelli write a letter to league office and tell mr tagliabue he needs to revisit those years and wins.
DanteLavelli the taxi squad was formed because you could have only 33 men on a team back then. paul brown kept a few extra guys around in case of injuries. mr mcbride owned the team and a taxi company so he got them compensation by driving cabs at night. the name took off from there.
DanteLavelli do you know where the word blitz came from?
DanteLavelli it came from world war ii. it came from blitzkrieg. they set every troop or person into the attack. a couple years after the war, paul brown started sending an extra defender to rush the quarterback. the offense was outnumbered, hence the word blitz for blitzkrieg.
kabeee after that win in Detroit, did you continue to mix up the plays?
DanteLavelli we continued to call our plays until i quit playing.
DanteLavelli one more quick story then i gotta go.
DanteLavelli here it goes...
DanteLavelli does anybody know what paul brown's nickname was on the west coast and frisco?
kabeee nope
DanteLavelli the san francisco chronicle put out a green paper in the afternoon whenever the browns came to town with headlines that said ""here comes the mad man from massilon.""
DanteLavelli called him that because he won 88 games in a row in high school and football was everything to him. we beat frisco all the time also.
DanteLavelli please do me a favor and wirte mr tagliabue. i would love nothing more than to sit in front of mr tagliabue and tell him why the record book is wrong.
Joe168 Everyone get that!
DanteLavelli sorry but i have to go. my helper is getting tired.
kabeee I hope we can have you back again
Joe168 Mr. Lavelli, it was a pleasure being the moderator of the chat with you
Joe168 Please come back again soon, your stories football and non-football are great!
Joe168 Thank you so much for coming and thanks to your helper!
artbtz Thank you very much Mr. Lavelli... this was a thrill for us!
WebDawg Thanks Mr. Lavelli and BI.
DanteLavelli it was fun. i have a lot more stories to share. i'll be back again if you want.
Joe168 Absolutely!
DanteLavelli bye.
artbtz Bye!
artbtz Next Tuesday Jamel White will be in Clubcaht
kabeee that was sooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cool
Joe168 he was major league cool
Joe168 i wanna hear more war stories!
BrownsFEVA dont know bout you guys BUT this Q and A has to go down as one of the most amazing of all times...!!!
kabeee for sure!!!!!
kabeee we need to get a letter writing campaign going
teco I wish my Dad was alive to enjoy this with me.....
kabeee I was thinking the same thing teco

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