Paul Eugene Brown was born on September 7, 1908, in Norwalk, Ohio. He graduated from Miami University in 1925 with a bachelor's degree in education and from The Ohio State University in 1930 with a master's degree in education.
Upon graduating from Ohio State, Brown embarked upon a career as a football coach. He first coached at the Naval Academy's preparatory school in Maryland. In 1932, he returned to Ohio, where he coached at his high school alma mater, Washington High School in Massillon, Ohio. Over eight seasons, Brown posted a record of eighty victories, eight losses, and two ties. He only lost one game at Washington High School after the 1935 season.
Due to his stellar high school coaching record, The Ohio State University appointed Brown as the school's football coach in 1941. Brown coached at OSU from 1941 to 1945, attaining a record of eighteen victories, eight losses, and one tie. In 1942, his team also won the Buckeyes their first national championship in football.
In 1945, Arthur B. McBride and Robert H. Gries founded the Cleveland Browns, a professional football team. The team became one of the most successful organizations to ever participate in professional sports. The Browns' first coach was Paul Brown. McBride named the team after Brown. The Cleveland Browns's first season occurred in 1946. At this point in time, the team played in the American Football Conference, although it would join the National Football League at the end of the AFC's 1949 season. The Browns organization won the AFC championship the four seasons that it played in the league. Upon switching to the NFL, the Browns won this league's championship the first year that the team participated in this league. Over his career in Cleveland, Brown's record was 167 wins, fifty-three losses, and eight ties. With Brown as coach, the Browns won three National Football League titles (1950, 1954, and 1955). Brown remained as the team's head coach until 1962, when a new owner, Arthur B. Modell, fired Brown, the team's only coach in the organization's first seventeen years of existence.
In 1967, Brown returned to professional football. Brown received authorization from the American Football League to create a team in Cincinnati. Brown chose the name Bengals to memorialize the teams of the same name that had represented Cincinnati in the past. The team's first season was in 1968. The Bengals played their home games at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati. With Brown as coach, the Bengals languished to a 3-11-0 season. The next season did not go much better, with the Bengals attaining a record of 4-9-1.
The 1970s proved to be much more fortunate for the Bengals and Brown. In 1970, 1973, and 1975, the Bengals participated in the playoffs, although they lost in the first round each of those years. In 1970, the Bengals also began playing in a new stadium, Riverfront Stadium, on the Ohio River in downtown Cincinnati. Following the playoffs in 1975, Brown retired from coaching, but he remained as the president of the Cincinnati Bengals until his death on August 5, 1991. Brown's son, Mike Brown, became president of the Bengals upon his father's death.