A One-on-One Conversation with 6-Decade NFL Warrior, PFHOF Candidate John Wooten

By Lenny Moon

When John B. Wooten arrived on the scene in pro football, Dwight Eisenhower was the Commander in Chief in Washington D.C. That same year of 1959 when Wooten was selected by the Cleveland Browns with the 53rd pick of the 5th round of the NFL Draft, Alaska became America’s 49th state ( January 3 ), while Hawaii joined the union (August 21) to round out the current half-century total. Fortunately for the incoming offensive lineman from Colorado, perhaps the greatest player in the history of the game preceded him on the roster a couple of years earlier. Wooten would inherit the luxury of blocking for the immortal Jim Brown, referred to as “Superman” by many of his foes. Ironically, Wooten and Brown would formulate a lifelong bond until the mercurial athlete and activist transitioned on May 18th of last year. Following his nine seasons as an active All-Pro player primarily in Cleveland, Wooten continued the grind by adding to his resume, while remaining directly connected to the NFL. He continued his NFL service by becoming a sports agent, scout and Director of Pro Personnel (Dallas), Player Personnel and VP of Player Personnel (Philadelphia) from 1973-1997. From there, Baltimore came calling where Mr Wooten performed the duties of Assistant Director of Pro and College Scouting and later consultant with the Ravens. It was 2003 when he co-founded the Fritz Pollard Alliance (in conjunction with the NFL) along with attorneys Johnnie Cochran and Cyrus Mehri, with key contributions from former NFL greats Kellen Winslow and Harry Carson among others. Although he’s unofficially retired, Wooten is still a key cog in the operation of the FPA and at a spry 87 years of age, still grinding. We recently caught up with the 60-plus year NFL veteran and below are audio and video excerpts from that visit.

Wooten discusses his current semi-retirement role with the Fritz Pollard Alliance (see above)
Wooten comments on the 8 NFL head football coaching vacancies recently filled following last season (see above)
Wooten comments on the recent passing of the legendary Jim Brown (see above)
Wooten comments on the legendary Jim Brown part 2 (see above)
Wooten comments on Tony Dungy (see above)
Wooten comments on Brian Flores (see above)
Wooten comments on Brian Flores, Part 2 (see above)
Wooten comments on Denny Green (see above)
Wooten comments on Marvin Lewis (see above)
Wooten comments on DeMeco Ryans (see above)
Wooten comments on Jarod Mayo (see above)
Wooten comments on Jarod Mayo, Part 2 (see above)
Wooten comments on Art Shell (see above)
Wooten comments on Fritz Pollard (see above)
One of the game’s top coaches of all time is Fritz Pollard Alliance alum Mike Tomlin of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Tomlin holds the NFL record for most consecutive non-losing seasons to begin a coaching career with 17, and has never had a losing season. Tomlin has led his Steelers to 11 playoff runs, 7 division titles, 3 AFC Championship Games, 2 Super Bowl appearances and won a title in Super Bowl XLlIII. Wooten talks about how he discovered future Hall of Fame head coach; Mike Tomlin (see video above)

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