Tight ends occupy a unique role on an NFL offense in that they are critical contributors to both the passing game and the running game.
While they act as wide receivers catching passes, they also act as offensive linemen blocking for runners.
During a 10-year career with the Cleveland Browns, in the late 1960’s and the early 1970’s, Milt Morin excelled in both the “wide receiver” aspect and the “offensive lineman” aspect of playing tight end.
Morin received multiple Pro Bowl and All-Conference honors and contributed to the success of five Cleveland playoff teams.
— Downtown Browns (@DowntownBrowns_) June 13, 2020
We take a look at the life of Milt Morin – before, during, and after his NFL playing career.
The Early Years Through High School
Milton Denis Morin was born in Leominster, Massachusetts on October 15, 1942.
Leominster is in central Massachusetts, about one hour west of Boston.
When Morin was growing up, Leominster had a population of approximately 24,000 to 28,000 people.
Morin was one of eight siblings.
His sister, Deanne, recalled Morin as follows:
“He was quite an athlete. He was a busy boy. He played all the sports and he played all the time. . . . They called him a gazelle in high school because he was so fast for his size. . . . He was big and fast.”
Morin attended St. Bernard’s High School, graduating in 1961.
St. Bernard’s High School is a private Catholic high school in Fitchburg, Massachusetts.
Fitchburg is approximately 15 minutes north of Leominster.
At St. Bernard’s High School, Morin starred in track and football.
Morin was co-captain of the football team.
Before college, Morin also attended Brewster Academy in Wolfeboro, New Hampshire (in east central New Hampshire, about two hours from Leominster).
Brewster Academy is an independent boarding school.
Morin graduated from Brewster Academy in 1962.
Brewster Academy Athletic Director Matt Lawlor said about Morin:
“In the 1960s, Milt Morin was one of the better athletes in all of New England. According to his teammates he was one of the most physically imposing players they had ever seen. Milt didn’t say much, recalls one of his teammates. He did his talking to us with his pads but when he spoke everyone listened.”
Morin next, after receiving a football scholarship from the University of Massachusetts (UMass), headed to Amherst, Massachusetts in central Massachusetts to attend college at UMass.
Morin played football at UMass from 1963 to 1965.
He was a tight end, a defensive end, and a placekicker.
In 1963, Morin caught 16 passes for 310 yards.
He was named to the 1963 Yankee Conference First-Team All-Conference Team at end.
Morin helped UMass win the Yankee Conference title in 1963 with an 8-0-1 record.
UMass outscored its opponents by a total score of 265 to 12.
In 1964, Morin caught 13 passes for 284 yards.
He also intercepted a pass, which he returned for 14 yards.
Morin was named to the 1964 Associated Press Little All-America First Team at defensive end and the 1964 Yankee Conference First-Team All-Conference Team at end.
UMass, with Morin’s play, again won the Yankee Conference title in 1964, with an 8-2 record.
On December 12, 1964, UMass played in its first ever postseason bowl game, the Tangerine Bowl, but lost to East Carolina 14-13.
In 1965, Morin had his best year at UMass.
He caught 29 passes for 557 yards.
On October 30, 1965, Morin had 181 receiving yards in a 41-6 UMass win over Vermont.
Morin was named to the 1965 College Football All-American Team at offensive end by Time magazine and The Sporting News.
He was also named to both the 1965 Associated Press Little All-America Second Team and the 1965 Yankee Conference First-Team All-Conference Team at offensive end.
Milt Morin established the standard for so many of our talented receivers who have followed in his footsteps
➡️ Reset the career receiving yards record (1,151)
➡️➡️Plus the single-game receiving yards record (181)
➡️➡️➡️And became the program's 1st two-time all-American pic.twitter.com/Klu2skqh2R
— UMass Football (@UMassFootball) September 17, 2020
UMass, helped by Morin, had a 7-2 record in 1965.
During his UMass career, Morin caught passes for 1,151 yards and averaged 19.8 yards per reception.
While at UMass, Morin also lettered in wrestling (he was New England heavyweight champion in 1965) and in lacrosse.
— ZACHISGOD (@ZACHISGOD) September 26, 2019
Morin later said that wrestling helped make him a better football player, stating:
“Wrestling gave me a mental discipline and an inner toughness. . . . It taught me the concept of individual responsibility. When you lose a match, there’s no one to turn to but yourself. This attitude readies you for football, where they expect you to get the job done and not be looking around to blame the other guy.”
In Morin’s last game as a college football player, he played in the 1966 College All-Star game against the Green Bay Packers (with Green Bay defeating the College All-Stars 38-0 on August 5, 1966) and then moved on to the NFL.
The Pro Football Years
Morin was drafted in the first round of the 1966 NFL draft by the Cleveland Browns (as the 14th overall pick).
While Morin was also drafted in the 3rd round of the 1966 American Football League draft by the San Diego Chargers (as the 24th overall pick), he decided to play for Cleveland.
As a rookie in 1966 (playing at a height of six feet and four inches and at a weight of 238 pounds), Morin started nine, and played in 11, regular season games at tight end.
In the opening game of the 1966 regular season, Morin had his first NFL regular season reception, catching three passes for 51 yards, as Cleveland defeated the Washington Redskins 38-14 on September 11, 1966.
On October 2, 1966, Morin scored his first NFL regular season touchdown, on a 20-yard pass from Browns quarterback Frank Ryan, as the Browns defeated the New York Giants 28-7.
Morin caught four passes for 48 yards in the game.
Morin’s blocking also contributed to Cleveland rushing for 258 yards on 46 rushing attempts against the Giants, including 138 yards on 20 rushing attempts by Browns future Pro Football Hall of Fame running back Leroy Kelly.
For his rookie regular season, Morin caught 23 passes for 333 yards and three touchdowns in 1966.
Cleveland had a 9-5 record in 1966, but failed to make the playoffs.
Morin’s play contributed to the Browns offense ranking in the NFL regular season in 1966 second in points scored (403), second in total passing and rushing yards (5,071), fifth in passing yards (2,905), first in rushing yards (2,166), and first in average yards per rushing attempt (5.2).
Morin was injured for much of his second season in 1967.
As a result, he only played in six, and did not start any, regular season games.
He only caught seven passes for 90 yards in 1967.
Cleveland won the NFL Century Division title in 1967, with a 9-5 record.
The Browns advanced to a playoff game against the Dallas Cowboys on December 24, 1967.
In his first playoff game, Morin (who did not start the game) caught three passes for 35 yards, including his first playoff touchdown on a 13-yard pass from Frank Ryan.
Cleveland lost the playoff game to Dallas 52-14.
Morin rebounded from his limited 1967 season and started all 14 regular season games at tight end in 1968.
In a 27-21 Browns loss to the St. Louis Cardinals on October 13, 1968, Morin caught eight passes for 151 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown pass from Cleveland quarterback Bill Nelsen.
On November 3, 1968, Morin scored two touchdowns, on passes of 32 yards and 15 yards from Bill Nelsen, as Cleveland defeated the San Francisco 49ers 33-21.
Morin caught six passes for 71 yards in the game.
In addition, the Browns, helped by Morin’s blocking, rushed for 224 yards on 38 rushing attempts against San Francisco, including 174 yards on 27 rushing attempts by Leroy Kelly.
The following week, on November 10, 1968, Morin caught a nine-yard touchdown pass from Bill Nelsen, as Cleveland defeated the New Orleans Saints 35-17.
Morin’s blocking contributed to Cleveland rushing for 222 yards on 35 rushing attempts against New Orleans, including 127 yards on 17 rushing attempts by Leroy Kelly.
Morin scored a touchdown for the third consecutive week, when he caught a two-yard touchdown pass from Bill Nelson, in a 45-24 Cleveland victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on November 17, 1968.
In the game, Morin caught five passes for 103 yards.
While Morin did not score a touchdown the following week, he was involved in a huge play.
In a 47-13 Browns win over the Philadelphia Eagles on November 24, 1968, Morin caught an 87-yard pass from Bill Nelsen.
The play set a record for longest NFL regular season pass reception by any Browns player; the record stood for 21 years.
Morin caught two passes for 108 yards in the game.
In addition, Morin’s blocking helped Cleveland rush for 201 yards on 37 rushing attempts against the Eagles, including 108 yards on 20 rushing attempts by Leroy Kelly.
For the 1968 regular season, Morin caught 43 passes for 792 yards and five touchdowns.
He also rushed for eight yards on one rushing attempt.
Morin received his first Pro Bowl invitation in 1968.
He was also named first team All-Conference by The Sporting News in 1968.
“When I catch the ball in the middle of the field, I try and make it a physical thing.”
With a 10-4 record, Cleveland again won the NFL Century Division title in 1968.
Morin helped the Browns offense rank in the NFL regular season in 1968 third in points scored (394), second in total passing and rushing yards (4,889), fourth in passing yards (2,858), third in rushing yards (2,031), and second in average yards per rushing attempt (4.5).
Cleveland met the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional round playoff game on December 21, 1968.
Morin had his first playoff game start and caught four passes for 47 yards.
The Browns avenged their 1967 playoff loss to the Cowboys, defeating Dallas 31-21.
Cleveland then advanced to the 1968 NFL championship game against the Baltimore Colts on December 29, 1968.
Morin again started the game and caught three passes for 41 yards, but the Browns lost to the Colts 34-0.
In 1969, Morin played in all 14, and started 12, regular season games at tight end.
In the 1969 regular season, Morin caught 37 passes for 495 yards.
He also rushed for 30 yards on two rushing attempts.
“He could have played tight end in this era. He’d be worth his weight in gold because most teams have a tight end who can catch, or a tight end who can block. Milt was such a good blocker, we ran Leroy Kelly’s sweeps around his end. He could run precise patterns, and he could blow you off the ball with his blocks. . . . He was just a great teammate, a big fellow, a wonderful guy.”
The Browns had a 10-3-1 record in 1969 and won their third consecutive NFL Century Division title.
Morin contributed to Cleveland’s offense ranking in the NFL regular season in 1969 third in points scored (351), fifth in total passing and rushing yards (4,428), and fifth in rushing yards (1,788).
On December 28, 1969, Cleveland played the Dallas Cowboys in a divisional round playoff game.
Morin started the game and caught four passes for 52 yards, including a six-yard touchdown pass from Bill Nelsen.
The Browns defeated Dallas 38-14 (winning a playoff game against the Cowboys for the second consecutive year).
The following week, Cleveland met the Minnesota Vikings in the 1969 NFL championship game on January 4, 1970.
Morin started the championship game and caught one pass for 18 yards, but the Vikings defeated the Browns 27-7.
Morin played in all 14, and started 11, regular season games at tight end in 1970.
In the opening game of the 1970 regular season (which was the first televised regular season game on ABC’s Monday Night Football), on September 21, 1970, Morin caught five passes for 90 yards, as Cleveland defeated the New York Jets 31-21.
— Old Time Football 🏈 (@Ol_TimeFootball) April 7, 2020
On October 11, 1970, Morin caught four passes for 40 yards, including a four-yard touchdown pass from Bill Nelsen, in a 30-27 Browns victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Nelsen said about Morin:
“Such a nice guy. You could count on him to be where he’s supposed to be. He was a big target to throw to,”
Morin’s blocking helped the Browns rush for 194 yards on 45 rushing attempts, including 108 yards on 20 rushing attempts by Leroy Kelly, in a 21-10 Cleveland win over the Houston Oilers on December 7, 1970. In the game, Morin also caught one pass for 29 yards.
For the 1970 regular season, Morin caught 37 passes for 611 yards and one touchdown.
He also rushed for two yards on one rushing attempt.
With a 7-7 record, the Browns missed the playoffs in 1970.
Morin contributed to Cleveland’s offense ranking in the NFL regular season in 1970 fifth in passing yards (2,582).
Morin started all 14 regular season games at tight end in 1971.
In a 27-17 Browns win over the Pittsburgh Steelers on October 10, 1971, Morin caught eight passes for 126 yards, including a 19-yard touchdown pass from Bill Nelsen.
For the 1971 regular season, Morin caught 40 passes for 581 yards and two touchdowns.
He also rushed for one yard on one rushing attempt.
Morin received his second Pro Bowl invitation in 1971.
He was also named first team All-Conference by the Associated Press and United Press International in 1971.
“He was a complete player, a prototype tight end. Back then, they had 240-pound tight ends who couldn’t catch the ball, and 200-pounders who couldn’t block. Milt did both.”
With a 9-5 record, Cleveland won the AFC Central Division title in 1971.
The Browns advanced to a playoff game against the Baltimore Colts on December 26, 1971.
Morin started the game and caught one pass for 16 yards, but Cleveland lost to the Colts 20-3.
In 1972, Morin again started all 14 regular season games at tight end.
On December 17, 1972, Morin’s blocking helped Cleveland rush for 193 yards on 36 rushing attempts, as the Browns defeated the New York Jets 26-10.
In addition, Morin caught one pass for 25 yards in the game.
Morin caught 30 passes for 540 yards and one touchdown in the 1972 regular season.
The Browns had a 10-4 record in 1972 and earned a “wild card” playoff berth.
Cleveland’s playoff opponent was the undefeated Miami Dolphins on December 24, 1972.
Morin started the game and caught one pass for 21 yards.
The Browns took a 14-13 lead in the fourth quarter, but ultimately lost to the Dolphins 20-14.
In 1973, Morin played in 14, and started 13, regular season games at tight end.
Helped by Morin’s blocking, the Browns rushed for 216 yards on 52 rushing attempts, as Cleveland defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 17-10 on October 7, 1973.
In addition, Morin caught four passes for 32 yards in the game.
On October 21, 1973, with Morin’s blocking, Cleveland rushed for 264 yards on 52 rushing attempts, as the Browns defeated the Houston Oilers 42-13.
Morin also caught three passes for 38 yards in the game.
Morin scored on a 51-yard touchdown pass from Mike Phipps, which was the tying touchdown in the fourth quarter of a 20-20 tie with the Kansas City Chiefs on December 2, 1973.
Today in #Browns History:
1951: In a 13-turnover game, the Browns roll past the Chicago #Cardinals 49-28.
1973: Browns tie #Chiefs 20-20 on a last minute Mike Phipps pass to Milt Morin.
— That One Sports Show (@tosspodcast) December 2, 2018
In the game, Morin caught three passes for 86 yards.
In addition, Morin’s blocking helped Browns running back Greg Pruitt rush for 110 yards on 15 rushing attempts against the Chiefs.
For the 1973 regular season, Morin caught 26 passes for 417 yards and one touchdown.
He was named second team All-Conference by United Press International in 1973.
Cleveland had a 7-5-2 record in 1973 and missed the playoffs.
Morin played in 14, and started 10, regular season games at tight end in 1974.
Morin caught 27 passes for 330 yards and three touchdowns in the 1974 regular season.
Cleveland missed the playoffs with a 4-10 record in 1974.
In 1975, Morin played in all 14 regular season games, but started only one regular season game.
He saw limited action in 1975.
His final NFL pass reception was his only catch in 1975 – a 19-yard reception in a 31-17 Browns loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers on December 7, 1975.
1975 was Morin’s last regular season in the NFL.
The Years After the NFL
Morin was married to Ellen.
He had a son, Monte, and a daughter, Ellen.
During his NFL off-seasons, Morin began to work as a corrections officer.
He continued in this job after his football career was over until he retired in 2003.
He also worked as a carpenter and owned an antique store.
In 1970, Morin was inducted into the UMass Athletic Hall of Fame.
Morin was inducted into the St. Bernard’s High School Athletic Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural class of inductees in 1983.
In 2010, Morin was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.
Morin was inducted into the Brewster Academy Athletic Hall of Fame in 2013.
In 2014, Morin was inducted into the Cleveland Browns Legends Program.
Just before the ceremony honoring Morin’s induction into the College Football Hall of Fame, Morin died of a heart attack on July 9, 2010.
He was 67 years old.
At the time of his death, Morin lived in South Hadley, Massachusetts in western Massachusetts.
A strong argument can be made that after Pro Football Hall of Famer Ozzie Newsome, Morin is the greatest tight end in Cleveland Browns history.
Morin is high on the lists of Cleveland career reception statistics.
He ranks tied for 14th in Browns career regular season receptions (271), 10th in Browns career regular season receiving yards (4,208), tied for 19th, among Browns with at least 50 receptions, in Browns career regular season average yards per reception (15.5), tied for 19th in Browns career regular season receiving touchdowns (16), and sixth in Browns career regular season longest reception (87 yards).
However, if only tight ends are included, Morin ranks second (behind only Ozzie Newsome) in all of Browns career regular season receptions, Browns career regular season receiving yards, and Browns career regular season receiving touchdowns, first, among Browns tight ends with at least 50 receptions, in Browns career regular season average yards per reception, and first in Browns career regular season longest reception.
In addition, Morin’s blocking contributed to Leroy Kelly rushing for over 1,000 yards in three seasons while they played together.
Helping the Browns make the playoffs in five seasons, Milt Morin was a key factor in the success of both the passing game and the running game for Cleveland in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.