Arthur B. (Mickey) McBride is one of the most important sports figures in Cleveland history for two reasons. First, he founded the Cleveland Browns in 1946 and, second, he hired Paul Brown to coach them.
McBride started his business career as a newsboy on the south side of Chicago in the late 1890’s, defending his corner with his fists and with his guile. At the age of 23 he was circulation director of the Chicago American. Three years later in 1913 the Cleveland News hired him as its circulation director.
The resourceful McBride eventually expanded his horizons. In 1931 he bought a half interest in Zone Cab and in 1933 he bought Yellow Cab. He invested in real estate in Cleveland, Chicago and Florida. He bought a printing company and a horse racing wire service.
He became interested in football in the early 1940s when his son, Art Jr., was a student at the University of Notre Dame. In 1942 he attempted to buy the Cleveland Rams of the National Football League from owner Dan Reeves, who rejected his overture. Consequently, when the All-America Football Conference was launched, McBride purchased a franchise for $50,000 and put Paul Brown on the payroll when he was still in the Navy. He also signed players and began paying them, such as Lou Groza and Dante Lavelli, when they were still in the service overseas. In 1950 McBride navigated the Browns into the NFL. In seven years under McBride’s ownership the Browns won five championships and had a record of 83-13-3. They rightfully called themselves the greatest show in football. McBride sold the Browns in 1953 to a Cleveland syndicate for $600,000.
He also contributed to the lexicon of pro football with his “Cab Squad,” giving borderline players jobs driving cabs until they were needed. The cab companies are still owned by his family.