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CINCINNATI - Figuring things out along the way has been the hallmark of many great sports achievers. Jerry Carroll, who turned acres of Gallatin County, Kentucky farmland into the Kentucky Speedway, was fond of saying, "Fake it 'til you make it."
The late Paul Brown was another legendary innovator who was known for thinking out of the box and on the fly. When quarterback Otto Graham suffered a badly broken nose, PB had the equipment manager fashion a clear plastic full face protective shield to be attached to "Ott's" helmet to spare him any further damage. And so the face mask was born.
During the fledgling days of the NFL, according to Wikipedia, he also ignored the gentleman's agreement that barred African-American players from the league.
As for being steeped in the tradition of professional football? Well that didn't happen. He'd gone from Ohio State to coach the Great Lakes Naval Station's Bluejacket football team, which competed against other service teams and college programs. It was from there that he got the call to coach an All-America Football Conference team, headquartered in Cleveland and to be named the Browns. He did so never having been exposed to football played in a professional context.
"The first professional game I ever saw," he told me years later, "I coached."
He obviously figured it out. And so will his descendants and those of other league founders, who worked their way through the sports early throes and made it what it is today.
The NFL has translated its time table for resumption of the season, to teams and players instantaneously through emails, tweets and via satellite feeds. Telegrams and long distance were the fastest modes P.B. and his colleagues had at their disposal.
They'll figure it out in due course. They always do.
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