60's Radio


Paul Brown, one of the most innovative coaches in NFL history, showed that a player's head wasn't the only thing you could put inside a football helmet. In 1956, Brown hired an inventor to rig up a radio receiver in the helmet of George Ratterman, his Cleveland quarterback, during preseason games in Akron Ohio, and Chicago, and in the Browns' home opener versus the New York Giants. Brown would talk to Ratterman and call plays from the sidelines rather then the usual method of sending in a messenger. But the experiment ran into problems in Chicago. "We would be in the huddle," recalled Mike McCormack, a Cleveland tackle before he launched a long career as a NFL coach and general manager, "and Ratterman would get this crazy look on his face. He finally said, "Hell, I'm getting cab calls from Michigan Avenue to State Avenue." Commissioner Bert Bell soon banned the Dick Tracy-like device, and radio helmets wouldn't pop up in the NFL again for 30 years.