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Arthur B. "Mickey" McBride (20 March 1888-10 November 1972) was the founder of the Cleveland Browns professional football team. McBride was a wealthy businessman who made a fortune investing in and operating real estate holdings in Chicago, Cleveland and Florida, in taxicab companies in Cleveland, Akron and Canton, Ohio, in a printing company, and in a horse-racing news wire syndicate, before taking an interest in the fledgling sport of professional football.

McBride became a rabid football fan in 1940 after attending a college football game at the University of Notre Dame where McBride's son was a student. After Dan Reeves rejected his 1942 offer to buy the NFL's Cleveland Rams, in 1944 McBride purchased the Cleveland franchise in Arch Ward's newly created All-America Football Conference.[1]

McBride aggressively promoted his new team and spared no expense. He hired Paul Brown when Brown was still coaching at the Great Lakes Naval Training Station during World War II, agreeing to pay Brown $20,000 per year plus 15% of the team's profits once it started operating, plus $1,000 per month until the end of the war.

McBride contributed to the lexicon of football with the term "taxi squad." Browns' players who were not on the active roster, due to injury or other reason, were temporarily put on the McBride's payroll as taxi drivers, though it is unclear if any of them actually drove cabs.

McBride left the football side of the team to Brown and handled the business end himself. Under Coach Brown, McBride's Browns were a great success. After the AAFC's demise, McBride's Browns, the San Francisco 49ers and the original Baltimore Colts joined the NFL in 1950. McBride sold his controlling interest in the team in June 1953 for $600,000 to a group headed by David Jones which included Ellis Ryan, an insurance man and former president of the Cleveland Indians, Saul Silberman, owner of Randall Park Race Track and Homer Marshman, the attorney who'd founded the Cleveland Rams. The price tag was twice as large as any that had been brought by any other pro football team before that.[2]

Aside from football, some believed McBride's horse racing syndicate venture was not entirely above-board. In January 1951, McBride testified in nationally televised hearings before the Senate Crime Investigating Committee, which questioned his Continental Press Service, a nationwide distributor of horse racing news, about his alleged ties to organized crime and participation in illegal gambling. McBride denied the connections, claimed he never broke the law, and was never charged with any crime. Congress later passed legislation making such wire services illegal. [3]

McBride was married to the former Mary Jane Kane. They had 3 children: Arthur B., Jr., Edward, and Jane. McBride died in Cleveland and was buried in Cleveland's Holy Cross Cemetery.

References

  1. ^ William Levy (1965). Return to Glory: The Story of the Cleveland Browns. The World Publishing Co. pp. 39–47. LCCN 65023356.  
  2. ^ Levy, op cit, p. 117-118.
  3. ^ Levy, op cit, p. 103.

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