Rest assured, Browns fans, you have a spy among the enemy.
That would be the hated Denver Broncos, the team that deprived your team of three trips to the Super Bowl in a four-year period in the last half of the 1980s – the team that ended your team's season in 2008 with a startling, punch-in-the-gut comeback win at Cleveland, no less, on national TV, the team that has done a lot of bad things to your team over the years.
And he has infiltrated their ranks for two decades without getting caught – or at least without get tossed out, or handcuffed and arrested. In fact, the Broncos know all about him and his history, yet they welcome him into their ranks year after year after year. They're happy he's one of them – or so they think.
We're talking about 55-year-old Dave Logan, a Colorado native and Colorado University product who is now in his 20th season as part of the Broncos Radio Network. He is in his 13th full season as the play-by-play announcer after spending the previous seven years as the color analyst.
In addition to that, he co-hosts a weekday afternoon talk show on Denver's KOA, the longtime flagship station of the Broncos Radio Network. Three times he's been named Colorado Sportscaster of the Year.
Further entrenching himself in the Denver and Colorado communities, Logan is one of the top high school football coaches in the state's history, having guided three different schools to a combined total of four state championships. Two of those state titles, including one last year, were won at Mullen High, where he still coaches.
But before he was Colorado's version of longtime – and successful -- Cleveland St. Ignatius High head coach Chuck Kyle, Logan was a Cleveland Brown.
And a very, very good one at that.
The wide receiver played – and starred -- in Cleveland for his first eight years in the NFL (1976-83) and was an integral member of the Kardiac Kids. He is just out of the team's top 10 career receptions list with 262, but he is seventh in receiving yards with 4,247, sixth in average yards per catch at 16.2 and eighth in touchdown grabs with 24.
That's tremendous production for any player, but especially one who was taken in the third round of the NFL Draft, as Logan was in 1976. However, the fact he was No. 2 on the Buffaloes' career receptions chart, that the Browns desperately needed some good, young wide receivers at the time, and that he was a tremendous athlete who was also drafted in baseball by the Cincinnati Reds and in basketball by the Kansas City Kings, Logan was played out of position at tight end by head coach Forrest Gregg in his first two years with the Browns. And it showed, as he had a combined total of just 24 receptions for 388 yards and one TD.
Gregg was fired with one game left in the 1977 season and eventually replaced by Sam Rutigliano, who correctly identified that Logan was not a tight end at all because he was not big enough to be an effective blocker, plus the fact he was not able to utilize his full athleticism there. So with the Browns' second first-round pick in his first draft in 1978, the coach chose an athletic wide receiver in Alabama's wishbone offense, a 6-2, 232-pounder named Ozzie Newsome – you may have heard of him – and switched him to tight end, which allowed Logan to be moved to wide receiver.
That, along with making some smallish quarterback by the name of Brian Sipe the full-time starter, jump-started a struggling Browns pass offense. Sipe thrived, and so did Logan and Newsome in their new positions.
With Sipe headed for the NFL MVP award in 1980, when he broke nearly every Browns passing record, and with Newsome headed to the Pro Football Hall of Fame after revolutionizing the tight end position and changing the game, Logan headed up the Browns receiving charts. His receptions total nearly doubled that first year, to 37 from only 19 in 1977, and by 1979, he led the Browns in catches (59) and receiving yards (982).
He added 51 catches in 1980, being one of five Browns to crack the 50-reception mark that year as the club went 11-5 and won the AFC Central title for the first time in nine seasons. Then injuries began to take their toll, though he was still the team's second-leading receiver with 37 in his final season with the Browns. He went back home to Denver in 1984 for just four games to finish his career.
In 1979, as the Browns went on a scoring splurge to try to catch up to the Pittsburgh Steelers in what turned out to be a wild 51-35 home loss, Logan made two TD receptions within a 1:53 span, including one that was one-handed over Hall of Fame cornerback Mel Blount in the back corner of the end zone. Logan literally plucked the ball out of the air, as if deftly and effortlessly taking a can down from a shelf. It was typical of him. Though Pro Football Hall of Fame wide receiver Dante Lavelli had the nickname of "Glue Fingers," it was Logan who may have had the best hands ever of any Browns pass catcher.
The play was so special that a photo of it – with the stands of old Cleveland Stadium silhouetted against the darkness of the early evening sky in the background – was used by Sports Illustrated on the cover of its NFL preview issue the following year.
In the following year, 1980, the Browns had to win the regular-season finale at Cincinnati in order to capture the division crown. They immediately got into trouble when they fell behind 10-0 and Logan was forced out of the game with a knee injury. The man who replaced him, seldom-used Ricky Feacher, who caught 10 passes all year, grabbed too long TD passes in a span of three minutes in the third quarter that turned out to be the turning point of the game, bringing the Browns from seven points behind to seven points ahead as they went on to squeeze out a 27-24 triumph.
But even with those plays, Feacher was no Logan. The Browns depended on Logan. They were much better with him in the game and a part of the action.
Boy, where they ever.
On Red Right 88, the play on which Sipe's pass to Newsome in the end zone in the waning seconds was intercepted, helping the Oakland Raiders to stave off the Browns 14-12 in the 1980 divisional playoffs, the quarterback did not see that Logan was wide open – wide open -- on the other side of the field.
If only Sipe had spotted it and directed the pass Logan's way, then so much Browns history might be – probably would be -- different.
There's one final story about Logan you need to hear. With all the secrecy not just in Cleveland but throughout the NFL regarding injuries, consider this paragraph in his bio in the 1980 Browns media guide:
"Overcame a freak accident suffered just prior to training camp last year. While jogging in Colorado, a friend running alongside fell against Dave's knee. A cast was required and Dave missed the preseason schedule, but was ready when the title race began."
Can you imagine that kind of information getting out now – and from the team itself to boot? Pigs will fly first.
Also, that 1979 season, as mentioned, turned out to be Logan's best as a pro. The fact that all of the teams on the Browns schedule could look at the media guide – put out by the Browns themselves, we need to emphasize again -- and know that he had some knee issues, certainly did not provide them a competitive advantage in going against Logan and the Cleveland offense.
No spies would have been needed to glean the details.
Just some food for thought.