The Early Years
After Ewbank graduated from college, he taught and coached at Van Wert High School in Ohio. He made only $2000 a year for his position, since he took the job as the Depression hit, and he learned lessons about frugality that would stick with him the rest of his life. When he made it into professional football and earned a pretty good living, he was never flashy, and he often told his players with bigger contracts to keep quiet about them. He was embarrassed by all the money in the game, and didn't want the lower-paid players to find out (salaries weren't as public then as they are now).
Later he would coach at Oxford-McGuffey High School and lead his team to seventy-one wins and only twenty-one losses in thirteen years. This included a twenty-one game winning streak, where his team outscored their opponents 270 to 0.
Football is like a family in Ohio, and Ewbank was a member of a pretty important family. During the war he had served as an assistant coach for Paul Brown during his time in the armed forces at the Great Lakes Naval Training Base outside of Chicago. In 1949, Paul Brown hired Ewbank to serve as his assistant in charge of tacklers and kickers for the Cleveland Browns. Weeb was uneasy about such specialization, but Brown convinced him, and he excelled at line coach. Ewbank, like Brown, had played quarterback in high school and college, stressed pass protection. He revolutionized pass blocking.
The Baltimore Colts were founded in 1953, and Ewbank would soon take over, leaving the Browns to become the Colts head coach in 1954. He had quite a task in front of him. Art Donovan would say that most of the team was "awful," and claim there were guys on that club who "couldn't make a good high school team." Ewbank's first task was to find a quarterback, and he signed Johnny Unitas in 1955.