July 30, 2014

Hanford Dixon talks about the origin of the Dawg Pound in “Day of the Dawg”

In addition to his admission that the Browns had a bounty system during Dixon’s days in Cleveland (like every other team), Hanford Dixon played an integral role in developing the Dawg Pound. In his new book, Day of the Dawg, Hanford explains how it all started-

“Think of the QB like he’s a cat, and you’re a dog. The dog needs to catch the cat.”

We lined up for another play.

”He’s the cat, you’re the dog. Don’t let him get away,” I shouted as I retreated to my right cornerback position. Then to help them remember, I let out a few barks. We ran the play, and then before the next play, I let out a few more barks. Pretty soon, it was a matter of routine. It was to let the linemen know they were like dogs, and they were to catch the cat.

Fans regularly attend preseason practice there at Lakeland Community College in Kirtland, Ohio, about a half-hour’s drive east of Cleveland. One of the first things I noticed after my arrival in Cleveland in 1981 was how crazy and obsessive Cleveland Browns fans are. Yes, other teams have very strong and loyal fan bases across the country, but here in Cleveland the fans are just sheer nuts. The Browns dominated the local sports scene. They had dominated the NFL in the 1950s, and because of the many lean years by the Cleveland Indians and, later on, the Cleveland Cavaliers, Cleveland was a football city first and foremost.

It didn’t take long for the fans attending practice to start barking as well. We’d line up for a play, I’d let out a few barks and the fans, sometimes thousands in attendance, began barking too. This kept on going and going throughout the couple of weeks that practices were open to the public.

Read the rest of that story online here, in a sample chapter.

The book is very good. Dixon’s remorse over Don Rogers’ death, and his admission that he could have stopped it is chilling.

Thanks to Gray and Company publishing for providing a preview copy for us. We also have one to give away to a reader today. Leave us a comment about Hanford Dixon, the Browns of his day, or a Dawg Pound memory and we’ll pick one at random to win a free copy.

If you are interested in book signings, Hanford will be at the following locations-

Saturday November 24, 2-3 pm. Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 7900 Mentor Ave. Mentor, OH.

Saturday December 1, 2-3 pm. Barnes & Noble Booksellers, 198 Crocker Park Blvd. Westlake, OH.

The book is available for purchase at Amazon right now.

  • Natedawg86

    Dawg Pound – Last game in 1995, hacksaws lol

  • http://www.facebook.com/michael.ingelido Michael Ingelido

    Being in my 20′s now, I grew up most of my years that people really get into football without a team to call my team. In the last 5-6 years I have become a huge fan, season ticket holder and supporter, and would love to learn some of the history of the pound and Dixon himself.

  • The_Real_Shamrock

    Watching the pre-game last week showing T-Sizzle Terrell Suggs of Baltimore taunt an all but empty/non-responsive Dog Pound was kind of sad.

  • Jared in LA

    Small Dawg Pound memory, but I remember watching a light snowy late 80′s playoff game vs. the Colts and whoever scored on the Colts got pelted with snowballs in the Dawg Pound. Tremendous.

  • crobarred

    My favorite memory during Dixon’s time with the team was beating Pittsburgh in PA for the first time in 16 years. Finally had a chance to shut my relatives (Steeler fans) up as a teen.

  • Brad

    My memories of Dixon are all passed down from my father, who could not be dragged away from Municipal on game day (even the day after my sister’s birth). What I really want is for the Browns to finally be competitive again so my dad can look forward to fall Sunday’s the way he used to.

  • http://www.goodstuffcommunications.com/blog Zack Luby

    My favorite actual dawg pound memory is tough to nail down. was it smelling the sickly sweet smoke from someone’s “special cigarette” for the first time? playing keep-away from the cops when a kicker would boot a ball over the net? (On a side note – why was that thing so small/low? did modell not want to buy full-sized net?) was it seeing the dudes hide a keg (!) under the fake dog house? Those are great memories, all, but there is one memory that rules them all – when Bernie rolled out versus Steelers, tucked the ball, and scampered for like an 11 yard gain, COMPLETE with a ball fake/juke on the strong safety. Ahahaha. Was the sweetest thing these eyes have ever seen.

  • Garry_Owen

    Best memory of the Dawg Pound: After you snuck into the game and got kicked out of seat after seat by the people with the actual tickets, you could always find a place in the Pound. Tickets? Nah. You didn’t need tickets. It was a City of Refuge. An anarchist City of Refuge, but a City of Refuge nonetheless.

  • Harv 21

    enjoyed Hanford’s excerpt, especially because his ghost writer has kept his tone and attitude.

    I’m old enough to remember all these players, and Hanford is being pretty modest when complimenting the CBs he replaced. The difference between Hanford and Lawrence Johnson was more than the diff between Trent and Montario. As soon as you saw him cover, close and hit you went, “oh, now we have a shutdown corner, just like the Steelers and Raiders.” And Minniefield had more than guile and speed, that little man was tough and fearless against the run, a good open field tackler considering how light he was.

    The other thing I’m remembering was the constant problem the Browns had generating a pass rush from the d-line once Sherk and Johnson retired. From the late 70s until the team moved we just never had that stud pass rusher that could mess with a QB, and a lot of the pressure had to come from blitzing LBs like Clay and Chip Banks. That had a lot to do with our lack of success against Bradshaw and Elway and others in big games. We blew some high draft picks, like Cleveland Crosby, searching for that guy but nothing doing.

    As a little kid my older cousin took me to a scrimmage with the Bills at Hiram College. He was very excited because he had hung out with a Browns rookie tight end (“we shot pool together”) and the player promised to get him tix to all the home games that year. You sat down right at the sideline to watch. My cousin was yelling at this player, trying to get his attention. Guy didn’t play much, didn’t do much. Next day he was cut. So much for the tickets.