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The Browns: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

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There is a recent article on Cleveland.com purporting to educate Browns rookies on what they need to know about the history of the Cleveland Browns. I will give the highlights here with a link to the full article.


The Good: Their history began in 1946 when Paul Brown founded a new team in Cleveland in the All-American Football Conference. Fans voted on the name Browns for the team name because Paul Brown was already a popular figure in Ohio. He coached the very successful high school team, the Massilon Tigers, just down the road from Cleveland. He also won a national championship as head coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes. Cleveland began their history with 10 straight championship game appearances and 7 championship victories. In their first game in the NFL, they beat the defending NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles. They ended the season by winning the NFL championship game. The Browns had only 2 losing seasons in their first 30 years of existence. Read that sentence again. If you want to know why Browns fans are so rabid, look no further than this early success. Success endears a team to its fans like nothing else will. Has any sports team ever had as good a start as the Cleveland Browns? For those who only remember the misery that has occurred in Cleveland since they got their franchise back in 1999, all of that misery is more than matched by a lot of success.


The Browns also boast the greatest RB in NFL history (Jim Brown) and arguably the greatest QB in NFL history (Browns).


Right from the start (1946), the Browns were integrated. Marion Motley and Bill Willis were the African-American players in professional football since 1933 when a “gentlemen’s agreement” between the owners kept African-Americans out of pro football.


The Browns boast 17 players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Nine more players or coaches have also entered the Hall of Fame who spent at least one year with the Browns franchise. There are so many things I could mention but one of the greatest occurrences came when I was in my late teens and 20’s. Hometown boy, Bernie Kosar, manipulated the supplemental draft so he could go to the Browns in 1985. This began one of the most exciting times in team history, including three AFC Championship game appearances. This included some thrilling victories and heart-breaking defeats. But every Browns fan alive during those times will remember it with great fondness. It is the time when the famed Dawg Pound began. We even give our Hall of Fame TE, Ozzie Newsome, a pass for becoming the GM of the hated Ravens franchise. The Browns have provided their fans with a proud tradition that keeps its fans loyal and rabid.


Link to full article: Cleveland Browns 1

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The Bad: This could be titled, “The Worst” or even “Just Plain Evil.” Owner Art Modell stabbed the fans in the back by taking his team out of Cleveland to Baltimore. This occurred during the 1995 season. Modell and the city of Cleveland were stalled in talks about getting a new stadium. Modell pronounced a moratorium on the talks citing a need to concentrate on the season at hand promising the talks would resume after the season was over. Instead, he held stealth negotiations with the city of Baltimore and made a deal with the city to take his football team to Baltimore after the season. Everyone was stunned when this was announced before the end of the 1995 season. One of the saddest days of my life was watching the final game in Cleveland Municipal stadium. Though a victory for the Browns, it marked the end of an era for the city and northeast Ohio. The players lingered in the stadium long after the game talking with fans. Center Steve Everett threatened to not go to Baltimore. Modell was motivated by bankruptcy. Somehow, he managed to run one of the most successful franchises into the ground. He did the same thing in Baltimore and had to sell a large portion of the Raven’s team to stay out of bankruptcy. His name is mud in Cleveland. Cleveland sports writers always vote against his induction into the Hall of Fame and so far have been able to keep him out. The move to Baltimore was a disgrace. The fact that a city that experienced this sort of treachery in the past would be a part of doing the same thing to another fan base is also a disgrace.


The Ravens are not a football rival to the Browns in the AFC North. This goes beyond football. It’s personal. Bill Belichick was the HC when the team moved. This, combined with the benching of Cleveland’s favorite son, Bernie Kosar, has made him a hated man in Cleveland.

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The Ugly: The record of the Browns since the franchise was returned to Cleveland is absurd. I’m not even going to list it. During this period Cleveland registered the worst two-season record in NFL history. They went 1-31 under Head Coach Hue Jackson in 2016-17.


Included in this is the horrible record we’ve had against our arch-rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. I hate the Steelers. The Browns dominated this rivalry in the 50’s and 60’s. In the 1970’s, the Chuck Noll Steelers gained the upper hand. By the late 1980’s and 1990’s, Cleveland once again was besting the Steelers in the majority of their match-ups. The “Move” ended that.


Pittsburgh QB, Big Ben, is 11-2-1 in Cleveland’s FirstEnergy Stadium. The Browns haven’t won in Pittsburgh since 2003. Did I mention I hate the Steelers.


Red Right 88, The Drive, The Fumble. These are all heart-breaking ends to playoff games during the Kardiac Kids era and the Bernie Kosar era. They are etched in my memory. Red Right 88 is a play called by Head Coach Sam Rutigliano that ended in an interception in the endzone as Cleveland lost to the Raiders in 1980. The drive is John Elway’s 4th quarter drive for a TD that tied the game in the AFC Championship game, 1986. The Broncos won in OT on a FG. Watch the film, Rich Karlis actually missed. The Fumble, poor Ernest Byner was on the way to the game-winning TD when he was stripped at the 1.5 yard line. His body went into the endzone and we thought it was a TD. But on replay, he was stripped just before the endzone. It was HEART… BREAKING. It took a toll on Byner’s psyche for years. I love Ernest Byner. I never held that play against him. He was the reason Cleveland was in that game. He didn’t lose it for us. What a competitor and a great football player. But… had it not occurred… Super Bowl!

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