It is a tremendous accomplishment in a football career to start in an NFL game.
Only a handful of the many athletes who play high school football and college football make an NFL team and then start in an NFL game.
To start every regular season and playoff game played by your team for nine consecutive seasons in the NFL is an even greater achievement.
Cleveland Browns linebacker Charlie Hall attained this outstanding achievement by starting every regular season and playoff game played by the Browns from 1972 to 1980.
Hall’s solid play contributed to the success of Cleveland’s defense.
— Brian Eugene (@brianeugenewhit) August 11, 2014
We take a look at the life of Charlie Hall – before, during, and after his NFL playing career.
The Early Years Through High School
Charles Leslie Hall was born on December 2, 1948 in Yoakum, Texas.
Yoakum is located in southern Texas.
When Hall grew up there, Yoakum had a population of approximately 5,000 to 6,000 people.
Hall attended Yoakum High School.
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Damion Ratley (who played for Cleveland in 2018 and 2019) also attended Yoakum High School.
After high school, Hall stayed in Texas and attended University of Houston for college.
Hall played at Houston for four seasons from 1967 to 1970.
He started at linebacker for the Cougars in 1968, 1969, and 1970.
While Hall was there, Houston played football as an independent (no conference) team.
In 1967, Houston posted a 7-3 record, including a 37-7 win over Michigan State (then ranked third in the nation by the Associated Press) on September 23, 1967, and a 15-14 defeat of Georgia (then ranked fifth in the nation by the Associated Press) on November 4, 1967.
On September 21, 1968, Hall had a key interception, helping Houston play to a 20-20 tie with Texas (then ranked fourth in the nation by the Associated Press).
Hall was part of a Houston team that defeated Tulsa 100-6 on November 23, 1968, as the Cougars set a record for points scored in a Division I college football game.
Future NFL coach Wade Phillips started at linebacker with Hall for Houston in 1968.
Houston had a 6-2-2 record in 1968.
The Cougars were ranked 18th in the nation in the final Associated Press poll for the 1968 season.
Hall led the Cougars in 1969, with 62 solo and 37 assisted tackles.
In 1969, Houston had a 9-2 record.
The Cougars defeated Auburn (then ranked 12th in the nation by the Associated Press) 36-7 in the Bluebonnet Bowl on December 31, 1969.
The Houston defense held Auburn to one rushing yard on 25 rushing attempts.
Houston was ranked 12th in the nation in the final Associated Press poll for the 1969 season.
In 1970, Hall was a co-captain of the Houston football team.
Hall was named second team All-American by the Newspaper Enterprise Association, and third team All-American by the Associated Press, for his play in 1970.
The Cougars defense held four opponents to single digits in 1970 – a 21-9 win over Tulsa on October 31, 1970, a 28-0 shutout of Wyoming on November 14, 1970, a 26-2 defeat of Wake Forest on November 21, 1970, and a 36-3 victory over Miami (Florida) on December 5, 1970.
In 1970, Houston posted an 8-3 record and was ranked 19th in the nation in the final Associated Press poll for the 1970 season.
After his time at Houston, Hall headed to the NFL to continue his football career.
The Pro Football Years
In the 1971 NFL draft, Hall was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the third round.
Hall was the 68th overall pick.
As a rookie in 1971, Hall (playing at a height of six feet and three inches and at a weight of 220 pounds) played in all 14, but did not start any, regular season games.
Cleveland won the AFC Central Division title, with a 9-5 record, in 1971.
With Hall, the Browns defense ranked in the 1971 NFL regular season 10th in fewest points allowed (273), tied for eighth in recovered turnovers (40), tied for 10th in recovered fumbles (16), fourth in fewest passing yards allowed (1,967), and eighth in defensive interceptions (24).
On December 26, 1971, Cleveland met the Baltimore Colts in a 1971 playoff game.
Hall played in, but did not start, the game.
The Browns forced three Baltimore turnovers, but lost to the Colts 20-3.
In 1972, Hall became a full-time starter at left linebacker, starting all 14 regular season games.
With a 10-4 record, the Browns earned a wild card playoff berth in 1972.
Hall helped the Cleveland defense rank in the 1972 NFL regular season tied for ninth in fewest points allowed (249), tied for eighth in recovered fumbles (16), third in fewest passing yards allowed (1,736), and tied for fifth in sacks (38).
The Browns played the undefeated Miami Dolphins in a 1972 playoff game on December 24, 1972.
Hall started the game and recovered a fumble.
Cleveland held Miami to only 74 “net pass yards” and had four sacks, but lost to the Dolphins 20-14.
In 1973, Hall again started all 14 regular season games at left linebacker.
Cleveland had a 7-5-2 record in 1973 and failed to make the playoffs.
Hall’s play helped the Browns defense rank in the 1973 NFL regular season ninth in fewest passing yards allowed (1,736).
Hall again started all 14 regular season games at left linebacker in 1974.
Hall scored his first NFL regular season touchdown, on a 29-yard interception return, in a 40-24 Browns loss to the Oakland Raiders on October 6, 1974.
Cleveland had four sacks and forced four Oakland turnovers.
The Browns had a 4-10 record in 1974.
With Hall at linebacker, the Cleveland defense ranked in the 1974 NFL regular season tied for fourth in recovered turnovers (40), tied for fifth in recovered fumbles (16), eighth in fewest passing yards allowed (2,025), and tied for fifth in defensive interceptions (24).
In 1975, Hall again started all 14 regular season games at left linebacker.
Hall scored his second NFL regular season touchdown, when he recovered a fumble in the end zone, in a 24-17 Cleveland loss to the Cincinnati Bengals on September 21, 1975.
In 1975, Cleveland had a 3-11 record.
Hall helped the Browns defense rank in the 1975 NFL regular season fifth in lowest average yards per rushing attempt allowed (3.7).
Hall started all 14 regular season games at left linebacker in 1976.
In a 21-7 Cleveland victory over the Houston Oilers on November 7, 1976, Hall helped the Browns hold Houston to only 63 “net pass yards”, have four sacks, and force three Houston turnovers.
'76 vs. Oilers. 9 degree wind chill, frozen tundra, & numb hands. Sipe's playground scramble and throw to Warfield and Charlie Hall's clinching INT sealed a 13-10 win. Forrest Gregg won 'Coach of the Year' in '76 for their 6 win improvement. #clevelandbrowns #browns pic.twitter.com/Dc9gUWziVx
— Cleveland Municipal Browns (@BrownsMunicipal) August 8, 2020
The Browns had a 9-5 record in 1976 and failed to make the playoffs.
Hall helped the Cleveland defense rank in the 1976 NFL regular season ninth in fewest total passing and rushing yards allowed (3,793), 10th in defensive interceptions (21), and fourth in fewest rushing yards allowed (1,761).
In 1977, for the sixth consecutive year, Hall started all 14 regular season games at left linebacker.
Cleveland posted a 6-8 record in 1977.
The Browns defense, with Hall at linebacker, ranked in the 1977 NFL regular season tied for ninth in recovered turnovers (39) and tied for ninth in defensive interceptions (23).
Hall started all 16 regular season games at left linebacker in 1978.
The Browns had an 8-8 record in 1978.
Hall’s play helped the Cleveland defense rank in the 1978 NFL regular season tied for fifth in recovered turnovers (45) and tied for seventh in defensive interceptions (27).
In 1979, Hall again started all 16 regular season games at left linebacker.
Cleveland posted a 9-7 record in 1979.
Hall started all 16 regular season games at left outside linebacker in 1980.
Hall intercepted future Pro Football Hall of Fame Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Terry Bradshaw and returned the interception for three yards, in a 16-13 Browns loss to the Steelers on November 16, 1980.
Cleveland had three sacks and forced four Pittsburgh turnovers.
The Browns, with an 11-5 record, won the AFC Central Division title in 1980.
Hall helped the Cleveland defense rank in the 1980 NFL regular season sixth in fewest rushing yards allowed (1,761) and tied for second in lowest average yards per rushing attempt allowed (3.6).
Cleveland met the Oakland Raiders in a 1980 playoff game on January 4, 1981.
Hall started the game and helped the Browns force three Oakland turnovers.
However, Cleveland lost to the Raiders 14-12.
After the 1980 season, Hall was waived by the Browns, ending Hall’s NFL career.
The Years After the NFL
Hall was married to Ruby.
Over his 10 seasons with the Browns, Hall ranks tied for 31st among all defensive players (and tied for fourth just among linebackers) in Cleveland career regular season interceptions (13), and 42nd among all defensive players (and ninth just among linebackers) in Cleveland career regular season interception return yards (131).
In addition, Hall ranks tied for 11th among all defensive players (and tied for fourth just among linebackers) in Cleveland career regular season fumble recoveries (9).
Hall is also one of a handful of Browns defensive players who have scored both interception return and fumble recovery touchdowns in regular season games.
While these statistics demonstrate Hall’s production, they do not account for Hall’s performance in such other areas as tackles, sacks, and forced fumbles, as statistics were not kept in these areas when Hall played.
Yet the individual statistics that most define Hall’s career concern his streaks of playing in and starting games.
From the opening regular season game in 1971 until the playoff game against the Oakland Raiders in 1980, the Browns played in 149 regular season and playoff games.
Hall played in every one of these games.
He never missed playing in a regular season or playoff game.
From the opening regular season game in 1972 until the playoff game against the Oakland Raiders in 1980, the Browns played in 134 regular season and playoff games.
Hall started every one of these games.
For the last nine years of Hall’s NFL career, he never missed starting a regular season or playoff game.
Given the potential for injury and the possibility of Hall being benched for a better player, these statistics are outstanding and evidence that Hall was a consistent and dependable player for the Browns.
By way of comparison, from 1972 to 1980, six different players started games at quarterback for Cleveland.
It also should be noted that Hall deserves more than just a “participation trophy” for playing in 149 consecutive, and starting 134 consecutive, regular season and playoff games.
His individual play contributed to team success.
While Hall played for Cleveland, the Browns won two division titles, made the playoffs in three seasons, and only had three losing records.
In addition, in all but one (1979) of Hall’s seasons, Cleveland’s defense ranked in the top 10 in the NFL regular season in at least one of fewest points allowed, fewest total passing and rushing yards allowed, recovered turnovers, recovered fumbles, fewest passing yards allowed, defensive interceptions, sacks, fewest rushing yards allowed, and lowest average yards per rushing attempt allowed.
When Hall’s grandson, Jordan Moore, decided to follow in his grandfather’s footsteps and play football at University of Houston, Moore said:
“To hear people when I go there talk about my grandpa just makes it a special place. It’s a definitely a place I need to be. If you know my grandpa, you know how well-rounded of a man he is and a hardworking man. If U of H can mold me into the way they molded him, this is 100 percent the right choice.”
Cleveland Browns fans should also praise the “hardworking” Charlie Hall for his consistent and dependable streak of solid play at linebacker for the Browns.