EDITOR’S NOTE: This article was submitted as part of the Trumbull County Historical Society’s efforts to bring awareness to local black history as part of Black History Month.
On this last day of Black History Month, let’s take a moment and celebrate one of Warren G. Harding’s most well-known athletic pros.
Paul Dryden Warfield was born in Warren in 1942. He graduated from Harding High School in 1960, a time when the Harding mascot was still the Panthers and the high school rivalry against the Western Reserve Raiders was strong. He excelled as a running back and defensive back, and played in a now infamous 6-0 game against one of Harding’s biggest rivals, the Massillon Tigers. In addition to his high school football career, he also excelled at track and field.
After graduating from Harding, he played for The Ohio State University and continued to outperform in both football and track and field, receiving multiple championships during his time there.
He was even an Olympic prospect before deciding to play professional football.
In 1964, Warfield was a first-round draft pick for the Cleveland Browns. During his first season, the Browns made it to the NFL Championship and won, defeating the Baltimore Colts.
In 1970, Warfield was traded to the Miami Dolphins, which came as a shock to him and to fans. The Dolphins were undefeated in their 1972 season and won their first Super Bowl title against Washington. Warfield won one more Super Bowl with the Dolphins before moving to the World Football League.
Warfield was selected by the Toronto Northmen in the WFL draft. Before the season began, the team moved to Memphis, Tennessee and renamed themselves to the Memphis Grizzlies. The WFL came to an end after the 1975 season.
Warfield returned to the NFL, playing his final two seasons with the Cleveland Browns before retiring in 1977.
After retiring, he received his master’s degree in telecommunication from Kent State University. While a student, Warfield was a sportscaster for the university’s radio station and was also a sportscaster for WKYC in Cleveland.
From 1981 to 1987, Warfield held the position of director of player relations for the Cleveland Browns, and later served as a senior adviser for the general manager of the team.
He was inducted into the Football Hall of Fame in 1983, his first year of eligibility, after a career that saw 157 games, 85 touchdowns, two Super Bowl victories, five consecutive conference championship appearances with the Cleveland Browns and eight Pro Bowl selections.
In 2013, a statue of Warfield was erected in front of Mollenkopf Stadium at Warren G. Harding High School. The monument to Warfield depicts his football career and how it all started in Warren, Ohio.
Moell is curator of collections and research for the Trumbull County Historical Society. For more information, call 330-394-4653 or email us at [email protected]
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