The Cleveland Browns teams of the late 1980’s properly deserve significant recognition for their success – four playoff and three AFC championship game appearances from 1986 to 1989.
While not quite as victorious, the Cleveland teams of the early 1980’s also achieved certain NFL success.
One player on these Browns teams of the early 1980’s was linebacker Curtis Weathers.
Weathers’ play on defense and special teams contributed to Cleveland winning two AFC Central division titles and earning three playoff appearances from 1980 to 1985.
— Don Filips (@donfilips27) April 27, 2017
We take a look at the life of Curtis Weathers – before, during, and after his NFL career.
The Early Years Before College
Curtis Lenard Weathers was born in Memphis, Tennessee on September 16, 1956.
Weathers attended Bishop Byrne High School in Memphis.
After graduating from Bishop Byrne High School in 1974, Weathers received a football scholarship from the University of Mississippi (“Ole Miss”) and headed to Oxford, Mississippi to attend college.
The College Years
Weathers played football for four seasons at Ole Miss, in 1974, 1976, 1977, and 1978.
At Ole Miss, Weathers principally was a tight end and wide receiver.
In 1974, Weathers caught 16 passes for 227 yards.
Ole Miss had a 3-8 record in 1974, including a 10-0 shutout of Missouri (then ranked 18th in the nation by the Associated Press) on September 14, 1974.
Weathers, in 1976, caught 10 passes for 213 yards and two pass reception touchdowns.
In 1976, Ole Miss compiled a 5-6 record, including a 10-7 win over Alabama (then ranked sixth in the nation by the Associated Press) on September 11, 1976, and a 21-17 victory over Georgia (then ranked fourth in the nation by the Associated Press) on October 9, 1976.
Weathers had his best season at Ole Miss in 1977.
He caught 23 passes for 395 yards (his 17.2 average yards per pass reception ranked fifth in the Southeastern Conference (“SEC”)) and four pass reception touchdowns (ranked tied (with his future Cleveland Browns teammate, Alabama and Pro Football Hall of Fame tight end Ozzie Newsome) for third in the SEC) in 1977.
For his play in 1977, Weathers was named by the Associated Press second team All-SEC (behind Ozzie Newsome as first team All-SEC).
Ole Miss had another 5-6 record in 1977, including a 20-13 defeat of Notre Dame (the eventual national champion for 1977 and then ranked third in the nation by the Associated Press) on September 17, 1977.
Weathers had four pass receptions in the victory over Notre Dame.
In 1978, Weathers caught 22 passes for 361 yards and one pass reception touchdown (on a 16-yard pass from Ole Miss quarterback John Fourcade for the only touchdown scored by Ole Miss in a 13-3 win over Tulane on November 11, 1978).
Weathers also was one of the captains of the Ole Miss team in 1978.
For the third consecutive year, Ole Miss posted a 5-6 record in 1978.
At Ole Miss, in addition to playing football, Weathers was elected as President of the Black Student Association (for two years).
He also was a member of the M Club, the Chancellor’s Advisory Committee, the University Judiciary Committee, and the BSU Gospel Choir.
Weathers played in two college All-Star games – the Blue-Gray Classic and the Japan Bowl, both in 1978.
After graduating from Ole Miss with a Bachelor’s of Public Administration degree, Weathers continued his football career in the NFL.
The Pro Football Years
Weathers was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in the ninth round of the 1979 NFL draft.
He was the 241st overall pick.
In 1979, Weathers was one of 11 rookies, joining wide receiver Willis Adams, nose tackle Henry Bradley, defensive back Clinton Burrell, defensive tackle Rich Dimler, running back Dino Hall, defensive back Lawrence Johnson, tackle Matt Miller, running back Pat Moriarty, tackle Cody Risien, and wide receiver John Smith, to make Cleveland’s roster.
While Weathers played on offense in college at Ole Miss, in the NFL with the Browns, Weathers principally played on defense, as a right outside linebacker.
Weathers, in 1979, playing at a height of six feet and five inches and a weight of 224 pounds, played in all 16, but did not start any, regular season games.
In 1979, Weathers was part of a Cleveland defense that held opposing offenses to only one touchdown or no touchdowns in five regular season games – a 13-10 Browns win over the Baltimore Colts (who only scored a special teams touchdown in the game) on September 16, 1979, a 26-7 Cleveland triumph over the Dallas Cowboys on September 24, 1979, a 13-9 Browns loss to the Washington Redskins on October 14, 1979, a 14-7 Cleveland defeat of the Houston Oilers on December 2, 1979, and a 19-14 Browns loss to the Oakland Raiders on December 9, 1979.
On September 30, 1979, Weathers also had the only pass reception of his NFL career, when he caught a 14-yard pass in a 31-10 Cleveland loss to the Houston Oilers.
Weathers contributed to the Browns defense ranking in the 1979 NFL regular season tied for fourth in fewest passing touchdowns allowed (14).
Cleveland posted a 9-7 record in 1979.
In 1980, Weathers played in 10, but did not start any, regular season games.
He was placed on the injured reserve list for four weeks in 1980 because of knee and hamstring muscle injuries.
Weathers played in two regular season games in 1980 in which the Browns defense held the opposing offense to only one touchdown – a 16-7 Cleveland loss to the Houston Oilers on September 15, 1980, and a 31-7 Browns victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on November 23, 1980.
In addition, Weathers contributed to Cleveland on special teams in 1980, including that he blocked a field goal in the November 23, 1980 31-7 Browns victory over Cincinnati.
With Weathers, the Cleveland defense ranked in the 1980 NFL regular season tied for second in lowest average rushing yards per rushing attempt (3.6).
It was a memorable season for the Browns in 1980.
The team was known as the “Kardiac Kids” for having several games decided in the final minutes of the game.
With an 11-5 record, Cleveland won the AFC Central Division title in 1980 (for the team’s first division championship since 1971).
The Browns advanced to play the Oakland Raiders in the 1980 NFL playoffs on January 4, 1981.
Weathers played in, but did not start, the game.
Cleveland held Oakland to only 76 rushing yards on 38 rushing attempts and 132 “net pass yards” (on completing only 14 of 30 pass attempts) and forced three Raiders turnovers, but the Browns lost to Oakland 14-12.
In 1981, Weathers played in 13, but did not start any, regular season games.
Weathers played in three regular season games in 1981 in which the Cleveland defense held the opposing offense to only one touchdown or no touchdowns – a 9-3 Browns loss to the Houston Oilers (who only scored three field goals in the game) on September 13, 1981, a 13-7 Cleveland loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 11, 1981, and a 15-12 Browns win over the San Francisco 49ers (who only scored four field goals in the game) on November 15, 1981.
In 1981, Weathers also again contributed to Cleveland on special teams, including that he blocked a field goal in a 42-28 Browns victory over the Baltimore Colts on October 25, 1981.
Cleveland had a 5-11 record in 1981.
Weathers (who again spent part of the season in 1982 on injured reserve) started his first NFL regular season games in 1982 when he played in seven, and started five, regular season games.
The 1982 NFL regular season was only nine games because of a players’ strike.
On December 5, 1982, Weathers started (at right outside linebacker) his first regular season game, in a 30-13 Browns loss to the San Diego Chargers.
In a 10-9 Cleveland victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 19, 1982, with Weathers starting at right outside linebacker, the Browns held Pittsburgh to only 124 “net pass yards” and forced five Steelers turnovers.
The following week, on December 26, 1982, Weathers started at right outside linebacker and Cleveland forced six Houston Oilers turnovers, as the Browns defeated the Oilers 20-14.
In the next game, on January 2, 1983, Weathers, starting at right outside linebacker, had his first sack in a regular season game, in a 37-21 Cleveland loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Weathers helped the Browns defense rank in the 1982 NFL regular season second in recovered turnovers (28), tied for fifth in fewest passing touchdowns allowed (9), and tied for fourth in defensive interceptions (17).
There was an expanded 16-team playoff used by the NFL in 1982 (because of the reduced nine game regular season schedule).
Cleveland had a 4-5 record in 1982, which was sufficient for the team to make the 1982 NFL playoffs.
On January 8, 1983, the Browns met the Los Angeles Raiders.
Weathers played in, but did not start, the game (Clay Matthews started the game at right outside linebacker), as Cleveland lost to the Raiders 27-10.
Weathers played in all 16, but did not start any, regular season games in 1983.
In 1983, Weathers was part of a Browns defense that held opposing offenses to only one touchdown or no touchdowns in four regular season games – a 17-7 Cleveland triumph over the Cincinnati Bengals on September 15, 1983, a 10-7 Browns win over the New York Jets on October 9, 1983, a 20-0 Cleveland shutout of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on November 13, 1983, and a 30-0 Browns shutout (for shutouts in consecutive games) of the New England Patriots (who were held to only 76 “net pass yards”) on November 20, 1983.
Cleveland compiled a 9-7 record in 1983.
In 1984, Weathers again played in all 16, but did not start any, regular season games.
Weathers was part of a Browns defense that held the opposing offense to only one touchdown or no touchdowns in eight regular season games in 1984 – a 20-17 Cleveland loss to the Los Angeles Rams (who scored only one offensive touchdown, and were held to only 90 “net pass yards”, in the game) on September 9, 1984, a 20-10 Browns win over the Pittsburgh Steelers (who did not score any offensive touchdowns in the game) on September 23, 1984, a 10-6 Cleveland loss to the Kansas City Chiefs on September 30, 1984, a 12-9 Browns loss to the Cincinnati Bengals (who only scored four field goals in the game) on October 21, 1984, a 16-14 Cleveland loss to the New Orleans Saints on October 28, 1984, a 13-10 Browns victory over the Buffalo Bills (who did not score any offensive touchdowns, and were held to only 77 “net pass yards”, in the game) on November 4, 1984, a 23-7 Cleveland triumph over the Atlanta Falcons on November 18, 1984, and a 27-10 Browns defeat of the Houston Oilers (who did not score any offensive touchdowns, and were held to only 38 “net pass yards”, in the game) on November 25, 1984.
In 1984, Weathers contributed to the Cleveland defense ranking in the NFL regular season second in fewest total passing and rushing yards allowed (4,641), third in fewest passing yards allowed (2,696), tied for third in fewest passing touchdowns allowed (15), fifth in lowest average passing yards per passing attempt (6.7), and tied for second in fewest rushing touchdowns allowed (10).
Cleveland had a 5-11 record in 1984.
Weathers played in all 16, and started two, regular season games in 1985.
On September 8, 1985, Weathers had a sack, in a 27-24 Browns loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
The following week, on September 16, 1985, Weathers had an outstanding game, as Cleveland defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 17-7.
Weathers started the game at right outside linebacker, had a sack, and intercepted Steelers quarterback Mark Malone (Weathers returned the interception for nine yards).
“Hey, those plays [the sack and the interception] just came at the right time. We needed to crush them then. All we were talking about then was ‘Crush them, crush them, put them away.’ I’m just fortunate I was the one at that time.”
In a 37-10 Browns loss to the New York Jets on December 22, 1985, Weathers started the game at right outside linebacker and had a sack.
Weathers was the Cleveland Browns Most Valuable Player (Special Teams) in 1985.
Cleveland had an 8-8 record in 1985, which was sufficient for the Browns to claim the AFC Central Division title in 1985.
In the 1985 NFL playoffs, Cleveland met the Miami Dolphins on January 4, 1986.
Weathers played in, but did not start, the game, as the Browns lost to Miami 24-21.
The playoff game against Miami turned out to be Weathers’ last regular season or playoff game in the NFL.
He had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in September, 1986 and never played again in the NFL.
The Years After Professional Football
Following his NFL retirement, Weathers initially worked in business, having a marketing job with East Ohio Gas.
However, Weathers then turned his attention to education.
He initially worked for the Cleveland City Schools before returning to his hometown of Memphis in 1998.
In Memphis, Weathers joined the Memphis City Schools as co-director of its Urban Systemic Institute, a reform program started by the National Science Foundation that focused on improving mathematics and science education in urban schools.
Weathers, in 2003, helped open the Memphis Academy of Health Sciences – the first charter school in Memphis.
He served as principal there for 12 years.
He also has served as principal at Hamilton High School, Dubois Arts and Technology, and Southwest Early College High School, in Memphis.
“Urban education has been my passion for the past 30 years. I’ve been blessed with the privilege of leading schools with great teachers and support staff that possessed a shared passion. As a result, we were able to create exciting learning experiences for many outstanding students and their families. . . . I have a deep and abiding love for children, especially those traditionally underserved by our educational institutions. I have dedicated my career and, quite frankly, my entire life to serving and supporting these precious young people.”
Currently, Weathers serves as founder and director of a nonprofit organization, The Brotherhood B2M, which focuses on developing the leadership capacity of young boys.
Weathers, in 2006, received the Distinguished American Award from the Ole Miss Chapter of the National Football Foundation and College Football Hall of Fame.
In 2007, Weathers was inducted into the Ole Miss M-Club Athletics Hall of Fame.
Weathers also was inducted in the inaugural Bishop Byrne High School “Knights of Honor” Hall of Fame class in 2013.
While much less important than his involvement with education, just as Weathers has contributed to the success of students and children, Weathers contributed to the success of the Cleveland Browns.
At first glance, Weathers does not appear to have had a significant NFL career with Cleveland.
He only started seven regular season games and had four sacks and one interception.
In reviewing the success of the Browns teams of the early 1980’s, it is easy to focus on such Pro Bowl star players as quarterback Brian Sipe, running back Mike Pruitt, defensive lineman Bob Golic, linebacker Chip Banks, and Ozzie Newsome.
However, successful teams are comprised of numerous productive players, and not just single star individuals.
Weathers was one such player whose efforts on defense and special teams helped Cleveland win the AFC Central Division title in 1980 and 1985 and earn a playoff appearance in 1982.
Perhaps Weathers would receive more recognition today had his career not been cut short by injury and he played on the “AFC championship game-playing” Browns teams of the late 1980’s.
In any event, for his role in contributing to two division titles and another playoff appearance in 1980, 1982, and 1985, Curtis Weathers was part of the success of the Cleveland Browns in the early 1980’s.