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Gib Shanley
The Voice of the Browns -
Still telling it like it is

For many, he was the voice of the Browns. His broadcasting covered three decades (1961-1984).

He worked in television with such well-known broadcast journalists as Dorothy Fuldheim, Don Webster, John Hambrick and Dave Patterson.

He's received the Ohio Sportscaster of the Year Award numerous times and proudly wears his 1964 NFL Championship ring.

Gib Shanley with Jim Graner

Gib Shanley with Jim Graner

It was in the small town of Bellaire Ohio, right on the Ohio River on August 6, 1931, that Gib Shanley first entered the world. The atomic bomb was dropped on his fourteenth birthday - possibly a sign of the impact Gib was going to have on Cleveland and especially Cleveland sports. It could also be the reason he has such a passion for world history.

Gib actually grew up in Shadyside Ohio (just outside of Bellaire) and attended Shadyside High School. From there he went to radio broadcasting school in Washington D.C. Appendicitis took him out of school two months early but during his recuperation he got his first radio job.

He was only 19 years old and was about to embark on a journey that would take him through Cambridge, Zanesville, Pontiac, Toledo and finally Cleveland where he stayed until he retired in 1984.

When he first came to Cleveland he was thirty years old and went to work for WGAR doing the Browns and Ohio State Football Games. Timing is everything and in this case it worked out for Gib and Cleveland.

At the same time he was offered the job at WGAR he was also offered a position as Public Relations Director of a plant food company, Green Thumb Industries. He decided to wait before accepting the position, just in case things worked out with WGAR - and they certainly worked out!

Prior to his work in Cleveland Shanley had not just been a sportscaster. "The smaller the station, the more you do. I did news and sports an even some DJ work".

Back in Bellaire he had done some color commentary for the High School football and basketball games for the sum of $5.00 a game! But once he got to Cleveland it was all sports.

He fondly remembers his first day in Cleveland. He was driving a four door Ford with the door wired shut and he was scared to death "Not quite petrified but close to it". He couldn't help but think, "What am I doing here?!"

And then he received a call from Ken Coleman, who was one of Cleveland's all-time best sportscasters. Coleman welcomed him to town and wished him well, and Gib Shanley never forgot that.

Gib Shanley with Cleveland Brown's coach Paul Brown

Gib Shanley with coach Paul Brown

He went and stayed with the Browns at Hiram. The first week there the General Manager took him to meet the coach - Paul Brown and the new owner - Art Model.

Gib always enjoyed broadcasting sports "You never knew what to expect. It was always exciting". He got along very well with the people he worked with, every player, and every coach.

He was gone before Bill Bellichek was the Browns coach and he thinks that was probably a good thing. "Cleveland had (Albert)Belle and Belicheck at the same time - a little touch to get along with".

He enjoys football and baseball, but Basketball has changed too much over the years. Even football (NFL) has lost some of its appeal for him. "There's too much ego - too much 'look at me'".

Gib Shanley with Nev Chandler

Gib Shanley with Nev Chandler

What about this year's Browns? Sorry to say, he sees little hope. "Tim Couch should be the quarterback. There's an unwritten rule that you don't loose your job because of an injury".

Of course he's also quick to point out the most famous exception to that rule. Wally Pipp played first base for the Yankees when he got hurt and Lou Gehrig came in to replace him. Gehrig went on to play over three thousand consecutive games.

"When I first came to the Browns they had six coaches. Now there's 16 or 18. Same thing in baseball. I understand that the games have changed, but that much? And is change always good?"

He is not afraid to say he likes Art Modell, even though he knows people will not like that. "I don't agree with the way things were done, but anyone who understands business and what went on would do the same thing. The fault lies primarily with Mike White and secondly with George Voinovich and they came out scott free".

He was a business partner with Al Lerner and Art Modell once, as a minority stockholder in a radio station. He found them both to be delightful to work for.

He believes the Cleveland Indians are on the right track, doing the job the way it should be done. "In a mediocre division anything can happen. We're building a strong foundation. We could be there in a couple years."

Gib Shanley with Duane Kuiper

Gib Shanley with Duane Kuiper

As for Indians owner, Larry Dolan, he thinks even if he doubled the payroll he couldn't have done better. "It's not all about the money, it's about planning for the future."

And the Cavaliers? Well, never too shy to voice a less-than-popular opinion Gib says, "I can't wait 'til Lebron James retires. I heard enough about him in High School to last me a lifetime. He's a good player, but he can't be the savior." He points out that the Lakers had two superstars last season and couldn't win.

Bring up Maurice Clarett and Ohio State Football and once again Shanley does not back away. "He needs to go back to school, play for OSU when he can and then go into the NFL." He strongly supports the decisions OSU has made and does not want, or expect, the NFL to change their rules for one player.

"In general, people do not want to take responsibility for their actions. Maurice Clarett doesn't want to and neither does most of society. You get a serial killer and they say 'oh he had a bad childhood'. Well so did Babe Ruth and Thomas Edison and a million other people. It's probably a good thing I'm not on the Supreme Court"

Gib Shanley wearing his 1964 Browns championship ring

Gib Shanley with his 1964 Browns championship ring

Some people will always remember Gib Shanley for the Iranian flag incident in November 1979. Of course, he hasn't forgotten it either.

A story ran on the 6:00 news about an Iranian burning the American flag. Gib was irate on two fronts, first that an Iranian was using the privileges of our constitution to destroy our flag and second that Americans stood by and watched it happen.

He knew the story was scheduled to repeat at 11:00, and he knew he had to do something. He tried to talk Don Webster into doing something with him, but they couldn't really come up with the appropriate reaction.

As the story aired at eleven he got angrier and angrier, and without thinking, when the camera came to him he grabbed the Iranian flag they had on the set and set it on fire! The burning flag and Shanley were only on camera for 12 seconds, but it will not soon be forgotten.

It was months later that he found out it was actually the Shah's flag and not the Iranian flag he burned.

Of course there was a flood of calls into the station, almost every one of them supported his action and praised his (and the stations) courage. "Today there would be law suits, a demand for a public apology and I'd be off the air, but things were different then. I had to promise not to do it again, but frankly, I suppose I would do it again today"

Gib remembers those days in television as being a lot more fun that today. There were always pranks and gags and people had a genuinely good time without being overly concerned about offending people or getting fired. "Our pranks were always in good fun and everyone knew it. People weren't so sensitive and law-suit happy then."

The Channel 5 gang from 1982 - Gib Shanley, Ted Henry, Dorothy Fuldheim, Jeff Manor and Don Webster

Gib Shanley with the 1982 gang from Channel 5 - Ted Henry, Dorothy Fuldheim, Jeff Manor and Don Webster

He remembers one day when Don Webster predicted that there would be no snow. Gib had white confetti ready and poured it over him. "You couldn't do that today"

Gib has been trying for years to raise the capital needed to start a 24-hour cable channel devoted to Gaming. How to gamble, where to gamble. Instructions, entertainment - everything to do with this very popular pastime.

Shanley himself loves to play cards and dice, but he never bets on sports or horses. "In reality people should never bet on anything that eats." He feels betting on something live cannot take into account a bad day or an upset stomach. "Dice and cards have no conscience and no memory".

He and his wife, Jan (who he calls his "gem") travel to casinos four-five times a year.

He'd much rather play cards then say, play golf. "My ancestors are Scottish - they invented the game. If they weren't dead, I'd kill them. You hit the ball, hunt for it, find it, hit it again, hunt, hit, hunt, hit. Until it goes in the hole. Then you do it 17 more times."

In addition to his wife Jan, Gib has two sons and two daughters and six grandchildren. And we can't forget he also has two dogs (black lab mixes) and two cats.

His heroes are as diverse as he is. Winston Churchill is a hero of his because he was the right leader at the right time in history and practically alone he stood up to Hitler. He also looks at the character of John Wayne as a hero.

Another of his heroes is Blanton Collier, the Cleveland Brown's second coach. "He was a good coach, a good teacher, a good friend and as humble as you can get. He would never survive today."

Jim Brown with Blanton Collier and Gib Shanley

Gib Shanley with Jim Brown and Blanton Collier

He remembers one of the many lessons Collier taught was that you can be successful as long as you don't care who gets the credit. Shanley believes Collier never got the credit he deserved. Collier always shook hands with his left hand - it was closer to his heart!

"Abraham Lincoln should probably be everybody's hero, but the founders of this country should be the biggest heroes of all."

Gib Shanley today

Gib Shanley

Gib Shanley is not ready to ride off into the sunset just yet. He would even consider going back into broadcasting if everything was just right. "I can't help you end this story - it's not over yet". That's good news.

He's an outspoken man with the courage to stand up for his convictions and the intelligence to back up his opinions. Stay tuned for more from Gib Shanley and his adventures - it's sure to be another interesting story.

Update: Gib Shanley passed away Sunday April 6,2008 from complications from pneumonia

Profiled by Debbie Hanson

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