If you grew up in the 1980′s and followed the Cleveland Browns, there was no chance of missing no. 31 and no. 29 on the field. Their names were Frank Minnifield and Hanford Dixon. Together, they were responsible for starting up the infamous Dawg Pound and are easily one of the best corner back tandems in the history of the NFL.
Both Minnifield and Dixon were well known across the league and picked up the nicknames of “Mighty Minnie” and “Top Dawg”. Both players played man-to-man and were physical at the line of scrimmage. While Dixon measured 5’11″ and hit hard, the 5’9″ Minnifield smacked just as hard and had some serious speed. Cleveland’s impressive duo were both ball hawks when it came to covering opponents and pretty much mirrored each other’s career statistics.
During his nine year career from 1984 to 1992, the Mighty Minnie finished with 20 interceptions. Playing from 1981 to 1989, Dixon ended his career 26 interceptions. What’s even more telling is that both Minnifield and Dixon played their entire NFL journeys with the Browns. No. 31 would go on to make four pro bowl appearances and be named to the ’80′s All Decade Team. Following right behind, Top Dawg found himself in Hawaii three times during the great Cleveland years of 1986, 1987, and 1988.
In 2009, NFL Films named the combination of Minnifield and Dixon number two overall as the best corner back tandems in NFL history. The pair were in-your-face defensive backs that were not afraid to hit someone. Former Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Boomer Esiason got his fair share of both of them. Esiason said, “These two guys would push the contact rules to the absolute limit. I’m surprised they are not number one overall.”
The two great defensive backs will always hold a place in Cleveland’s heart. While Dixon still stays close to the Browns and makes his home in Northeast Ohio, after football Minnifield went back home to Lexington, Kentucky and started his own home building company. His son, Chase Minnifield is on the Washington Redskins‘ injured reserve list. Browns fans can only hope that they will soon have a matching corner back to go alongside with stud defensive player and fan favorite Joe Haden.
Ryan Ruiz – Cleveland Browns Writer
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