PFW recently caught up with former Browns LB and current New Mexico State assistant head coach and LBs coach Dale Lindsey to get his thoughts on his nine-season career (1965-73) in Cleveland. Among the topics discussed with Lindsey, who has had stints as an NFL assistant coach with the Browns, Packers, Patriots, Buccaneers, Chargers, Bears and Redskins: the influence late Browns head coach Blanton Collier had on him, as well his memories of playing one season with Jim Brown.
PFW: When you think about Blanton Collier, what stands out?
Lindsey: I always thought Blanton never allowed the situation to change his philosophy, his morals or his principles. He was not someone that would sell out just to get something done that he didn't believe in. You could always count on him to be the same person all the time. The man never, ever raised his voice. I never, ever heard him utter a cuss word. He was always a consummate teacher. He was always trying to help you find a better way to get things done, and was understanding when it didn't work. It was like, 'Let's try it again, and let me see how I can get through to you.' It was fabulous. The men that worked for him, that he worked with, were the same way. They were all teachers.
PFW: Did you try to take that approach as a coach, to be a teacher? Were there some things you saw him do that you could take with you into your career?
Lindsey: Yes, because he always broke everything down into little bitty increments. I've got a degree in education myself, and I've been a high school teacher, too. If you're a coach, you're a teacher. You've got to figure out to get somebody to learn something that may be difficult for them the first time. Like all of us, we don't always get it the first time, and you've got to have some patience, some understanding, and you've got to find a way to get through to people in different ways. Everybody doesn't learn the same way, and you've got to figure out how you can get (them) to absorb what you're trying to get done. That's the thing that I think all the guys that I had a chance to play for were really very good at.
PFW: What's your favorite playing memory?
Lindsey: I scored a touchdown (on an interception) against Dallas, in the (NFL Eastern Conference playoff) game (in 1968). It actually turned the game around and got us to the (NFL) championship game. We didn't get the result we wanted (Cleveland lost to Baltimore, which fell to the Jets in Super Bowl III), but it was a very helpful moment at that time, and I'd say that's one that sticks out in my mind.
PFW: What stands out about the Cleveland community and Browns fans, having played and lived there?
Lindsey: These people were and still are very sophisticated football fans. That's the state of Ohio. They're very interested in good football, similar to Pennsylvania, Texas, like that. It's the lifeblood. The fans know whether you're playing well or not and they do not mind letting you know about it. Expectations were very high and they let you know. They wanted nothing but excellence.
PFW: Your Browns career overlapped with Jim Brown's for one season in 1965. What are your memories of him?
Lindsey: Well, he's still the best player I've ever seen, without a doubt. I was always on the scout team when they were working the offense for the week. I got the hell out of his way. The guy's just a phenomenal athlete. ... So, whatever he would have done, he would have been the best at, because he was a great competitor who had fantastic talent, but he worked at his trade.
There were (five) Hall of Famers off that Browns team, and the one thing they all did was they all showed up and they worked harder than everyone else. My coaching career, I feel like I'm going to have two Hall of Famers in Junior Seau and Brian Urlacher, and the thing those guys do is they're gifted — I mean, God was great to them — but they work at what they do. They don't take anything for granted. And they'll outwork anybody on the field. That's the same way Jim and the other Hall of Famers were.