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W&L's Michaels No. 21 on List of All-Time Cleveland Browns

The Cleveland Plain Dealer is counting down the 100 best all-time players for the Cleveland Browns, and Washington and Lee alumnus Walt Michaels comes in at No. 21.

Walt, a member of the Class of 1951, belongs to W&L’s Athletic Hall of Fame. He played on the 1950 W&L team, which was the first (and only) squad to represent the University in a post-season bowl game — a loss to Wyoming in the 1951 Gator Bowl.  Walt missed that game because of an appendectomy. The 1950 team won the Southern Conference and finished 8-2.

A fullback and linebacker from little Swoyersville, Pa., Walt was drafted by the Browns in the seventh round of the NFL draft. But Cleveland traded him to Green Bay in the preseason, and he spent his first pro season as the Packers’ starting right linebacker. The Packers sent him back to Cleveland after the one season. He became a Pro Bowl player and was a key to the Browns’ NFL championships in 1954 and 1955.

The Plain Dealer writes: “Aggressive, athletic and a sure tackler, Michaels had a great sense for the game and would call the Browns’ defensive signals for years.”

Walt retired at 32 and became an NFL coach. He was the New York Jets’ defensive coordinator when the Jets stunned Baltimore to win Super Bowl III in 1969. (Walt’s brother, Lou Michaels, was the Colts’ kicker in that game.) Walt served as head coach of the Jets from 1977 to 1982.

The Plain Dealer included the clip below from the 1952 championship game, when the Browns lost to Detroit. Walt is No. 34 on opening kickoff coverage and then at left linebacker.