Cleveland Browns

Don Colo
(game worn)

For Don Colo, rising from relative obscurity to relative obscurity took a great deal of effort and quite a few years. Though large as a youngster, Don went through East Bridgewater, Massachusetts High School without playing football. An accomplished student, Colo entered prestigious Ivy League member Brown University and did go out for the football team. By the time his career was over, he had become one of the finest lineman in their history and was chosen in the third round of the NFL draft by the Baltimore Colts. For those who recall Colts history, they began as the All American Football Conference Miami Seahawks in 1946 before the bankrupt franchise was moved to Baltimore in ’47 and were renamed the Colts. They again reorganized the ownership group in at the end of the 1947 season, despite excellent fan support. For the 1950 season the Colts were incorporated into the National Football League with AAFC partners the Cleveland Browns and San Francisco 49’ers but on January 18, 1951, the Colts were officially defunct. Though various perspectives on NFL and Colts history differ relative to what entities should be considered as “Colts teams,” Colo remained with a contingent of players who went from the Colts, to the New York Yanks, and the hapless Dallas Texans before the Texans were then brought back to Baltimore for the 1953 season as the Colts. However, on March 26, 1953, Colo was traded to the Cleveland Browns as what to that point in history, was the largest player trade made in the NFL. Involving fifteen players, with Colo and Mike McCormack perhaps the best known of the Colts who exited, Baltimore received ten Browns, including Don Shula, Carl Taseff, Art Spinney, and Bert Rechichar, all whom would make contributions to that franchise.

Colo, an accomplished and solid performer, became part of the Browns championship teams and unfortunately, was very much overshadowed on a defensive line that included Bob Gain and Hall of Fame defensive end Len Ford. Still, the 6’3”, 252 pound defensive tackle was outstanding and at times spectacular in his consistency and was eventually rewarded with Pro Bowl recognition in both 1955 and ’56.

For fans of hardnosed defensive football, Colo was a favorite. He was the Rock Of Gibraltar playing on a tough defensive squad that was usually overlooked because the media focused on Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Frank Gatski, and Preston Carpenter before acknowledging the Browns’ great defensive stars.

That the defense rarely received recognition until a few seasons later with the popularity of the New York Giants contingent and middle linebacker Sam Huff only compounded Colo’s lack of attention but typical of the Browns’ “team first” concept, Don Colo was a perfect representative of the Browns championship teams and their defense that was every bit as noteworthy as their wonderful offensive stars.

With the unveiling of the Cleveland Browns new Ring Of Honor and in-stadium tribute to their Pro Football Hall Of Fame members, it was HELMET HUT’s honor and privilege to graciously accept the Browns’ request to provide authentic reproductions of the helmets of these great players for this wonderful tribute.


 Browns defensive stars Ford, Colo, Gain, Kissel, and Massey