Join the Cleveland Scene Press Club. Because No News is Bad News.

Friday, February 18, 2011

How Clarence Clemons, E Street Saxophonist, Almost Played for the Cleveland Browns

Posted By on Fri, Feb 18, 2011 at 10:40 AM

bruce-springsteen-clarence-clemons-cd76cca5af702c06_large.jpg

It's safe to say that Clarence Clemons found his life's calling. Belting out notes on the sax for Springsteen's crew has made for a decent job — fame, millions of dollars, and looking completely badass. But Clemons was one car accident away from a career move that might have changed the course of rock forever, a choice that would have had the Boss introducing someone named Clive or Joe or Tommy on the horns instead of The Big Man.

Clemons, you see, might have played for the Cleveland Browns.

He'd played college football at Maryland State but went undrafted by the NFL. Clemons ended up on a semi-pro team in New Jersey, which is where a scout for the Cleveland Browns noticed him.

The PD recaps:

It was around 1964 to 1966, Clemons isn't too sure anymore. It was also right around the time the Browns had won their most recent NFL title and just missed another. Fullback Jim Brown was about to leave football for Hollywood.

During a semi-pro practice, Clemons apparently caught the eye of a Browns scout, who told the coach he wanted him to try out in Newark.

But the day before he was to show the Browns what he could do, Clemons slammed his blue Buick Riviera into a tree. He still remembers the out-of-body experience — hovering over the accident scene as emergency crews pulled him from the car. He awoke in the hospital. The wreck had nearly torn off an ear.

Clemons was told he could never play football again, which turned out for the best, if for no other reason than the sax solo on "Jungleland." In fact, let's listen right now.

Tags: , , , , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Cleveland Scene. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Cleveland Scene, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at news@clevescene.com.

Cleveland Scene works for you, and your support is essential.

Our small but mighty local team works tirelessly to bring you high-quality, uncensored news and cultural coverage of Cleveland and beyond.

Unlike many newspapers, ours is free – and we'd like to keep it that way, because we believe, now more than ever, everyone deserves access to accurate, independent coverage of their community.

Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing pledge, your support helps keep Cleveland's true free press free.

Read the Digital Print Issue

September 23, 2020

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Calendar