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Cleveland Browns
Established 1946
Play in Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.
NFL-AFC-CLE-Helmet
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Helmet Logo
League/Conference affiliations

All-America Football Conference (1946–1949)

  • Western Division (1946–1948)

National Football League (1950–present)

Current uniform
NFL-AFC-CLE Jerseys
Team colors Seal brown, Bold Orange, White
              
Personnel
Owner Jimmy Haslam III
Dee Haslam[1][2]
Team President Paul DePodesta (Chief Strategy Officer)
General Manager John Dorsey
Head Coach Freddie Kitchens
Team history

Playoff Appearances: AAFC: 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949
NFL: 1950, 1951, 1952, 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1958, 1964, 1965, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1972, 1980, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1994, 2002

  • Cleveland Browns (1946–1995)
  • Suspended operations (1996–1998)
  • Cleveland Browns (1999–present)
Cleveland Browns Historical Teams
1946 1947 1948 1949 1950 1951 1952 1953 1954 1955
1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965
1966 1967 1968 1969 1970 1971 1972 1973 1974 1975
1976 1977 1978 1979 1980 1981 1982 1983 1984 1985
1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995
1999 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008
2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018
2019
Championships
League Championships (4)
Conference Championships (11)
  • NFL American: 1950, 1951, 1952
  • NFL Eastern: 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969
Division Championships (13)
  • AAFC Western: 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949
  • NFL Century: 1967, 1968, 1969
  • AFC Central: 1971, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989
Home fields

The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are members of the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team began play in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and joined the NFL in 1950 when the leagues merged.

The Browns were the AAFC's most successful franchise, and were one of only three teams to join the NFL following the merger. In 1995, after nearly 50 years in Cleveland, then owner Art Modell announced his intention to move the team to Baltimore, Maryland, initiating a relocation controversy that led to legal action. The legal action resulted in a unique compromise: Modell would keep the Browns' existing player and staff contracts, but his team officially would be a new franchise; this team is now known as the Baltimore Ravens. The Browns name, history, and archives would remain in Cleveland, and a new Browns team began play in 1999 after a three-year period of being "on hiatus."

The Browns have won a total of four league championships (NFL). They won all four AAFC titles (including a 15–0 undefeated season in 1948) which are not recognized by the NFL, and after joining the NFL they won four league championships prior to the league's merger with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970. Following the merger, the Browns were one of three NFL teams which joined the ten former AFL teams to form the new American Football Conference. Despite having the sixth-highest winning percentage of all NFL franchises,[3] the Browns have not played in a league championship game since the merger; however, they have competed for the AFC Championship three times. Having lost all three games, along with two NFL Championship Games of the Super Bowl era prior to the merger (in 1968 and 1969), Cleveland is one of four NFL teams that has yet to reach the Super Bowl. [4][5]

History

1946–1949: founding in the AAFC

The Cleveland Browns were founded in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference, under businessman Arthur B. "Mickey" McBride.[6] Not long after gaining the franchise, McBride named Ohio St coach Paul Brown as vice president, general manager and head coach. The franchise conducted a team naming contest in 1945. The most popular submission was "Browns" in recognition of Paul Brown, already an established and popular figure in Ohio sports. Brown at first objected to the name and the team selected from the contest entries the name "Panthers". However, after an area businessman informed the team that he owned the rights to the name Cleveland Panthers from an earlier failed football team, the name was finally changed to Browns. How they decided on the name Browns in the end remains a subject of debate. The Cleveland Plain Dealer and The Official NFL Encyclopedia of Pro Football both credit Paul Brown himself. On the other hand, the franchise's media relations office credits the nickname as a shortened version of Brown Bombers (the plural of boxer Joe Louis' nickname), the result of a naming contest in 1946.[7]

Brown parlayed his ties to the Buckeyes and the Navy (where he had coached a base football team during World War II) into the most extensive recruitment network that had ever been seen at the time in pro football. He used it to assemble a team that, in terms of talent, would have been more than a match for any NFL team—including quarterback Otto Graham, kicker/offensive tackle Lou Groza, wide receivers Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie, fullback Marion Motley and nose guard Bill Willis.

The Browns dominated the AAFC, winning all four of its championships. This included the 1948 season, in which they became the first unbeaten and untied team in professional football history, 24 years before the 1972 Miami Dolphins became the NFL's first and only team to date to have a perfect season. Cleveland's undefeated streak (including two ties) reached 29 games, and included 18 straight wins and the 1947 and 1948 AAFC championship games. During the AAFC's four-year run, the Browns lost only four games. They issued occasional challenges to NFL teams, only to be turned down almost out of hand each time.

Thanks in large part to McBride's promotional efforts, the Cleveland area showed terrific support for the Browns from the moment they were created. The team saw a record-setting average attendance of 57,000 per game in its first season.[8] The Browns unexpectedly had Cleveland to themselves; the NFL's Cleveland Rams, who had continually lost money while in Cleveland despite winning the 1945 NFL championship, moved to the booming area of Los Angeles after the 1945 season (the team is now located in St. Louis). Unlike the AFL statistics which are treated as NFL statistics, records of the AAFC and its teams (most of which folded) are not recognized by the NFL.

1950–1956: joining the NFL

The AAFC dissolved shortly after the 1949 season, and the NFL agreed to take in three of the AAFC's teams for the 1950 season: the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Colts (an earlier incarnation, not the team which would later move to Indianapolis), and the Browns.

The Browns' first NFL game was against the two-time defending champion Philadelphia Eagles. The overwhelming consensus at the time was that the Eagles would blow the Browns off the field; many thought the Browns were at best the dominant team in a minor league. However, the Browns were determined to prove they belonged. They shredded the Eagles' vaunted defense for 487 yards of total offense en route to a 35–10 blowout win.

Behind a potent offense that included future Hall of Famers Graham, Motley and Dante Lavelli, the Browns picked up right from where they left off in the AAFC. After going 10–2 in the regular season, they defeated the New York Giants 8–3 in a playoff game and then beat Cleveland's previous NFL tenants, the Rams (who were now in Los Angeles), 30–28, in the NFL Championship Game. Since the NFL does not recognize the AAFC's records, this technically makes the Browns the most successful expansion team in the history of professional sports. However, the 1950 Browns were not an expansion team in any sense of the term.

During the next season, the Browns went 11–1, facing the Rams in a rematch of the previous year's title game. A 73-yard touchdown pass by Rams quarterback Norm van Brocklin to wide receiver Tom Fears in the fourth quarter gave Los Angeles the lead for good. The 24–17 loss was the Browns' first in a championship game.

In 1952, Cleveland finished 8–4 to again advance to the NFL Championship Game, this time facing the Detroit Lions. A muffed punt, several defensive stands, and a 67-yard touchdown run by Doak Walker combined to help the Lions win 17–7, frustrating the Browns for the second consecutive year. On the upside, Ray Renfro became a star that season with 722 yards receiving and 322 yards rushing.

The Browns then started the 1953 season winning 11 straight games, but finished with a loss to the Eagles in the final week, and then lost the 1953 Championship Game in a rematch with the Lions. The game was, however, closer than the year before. With the score tied at 10 going into the final quarter, Lou Groza kicked two field goals to put Cleveland up 16–10. But Detroit quarterback Bobby Layne threw a 33-yard touchdown pass to Jim Doran with less than two minutes left and the Lions won 17–16.

By 1954, the Browns were established as the most powerful team in the NFL. They finished 9–3 and met up with Detroit in the Championship Game for a third consecutive year. This time, however, the Browns were relentless on both sides of the ball, intercepting Bobby Layne six times and forcing three fumbles. Otto Graham threw three touchdowns and ran for three more, en route to a 56–10 thrashing and the Browns' second NFL crown.

The Browns kept rolling along in 1955 after Brown convinced Graham to end his previously announced retirement. Chuck Noll had a productive season at linebacker with five interceptions while Graham passed for 15 touchdowns and ran for six more. The team, which finished 9–2–1, won their third NFL Championship Game in six seasons with a 38–14 romp over the Los Angeles Rams. In 10 years of existence, the Browns reached the title game every year (four in the AAFC, six in the NFL) and won seven of them.

Graham retired for good before the 1956 season, and the Browns floundered without him behind center. Three quarterbacks (George Ratterman, Babe Parilli, and Tommy O'Connell) were used, none of them throwing more touchdowns than interceptions. The team's 5–7 record was the team's first losing season ever.

1957–1965: the Jim Brown era

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The Browns responded in 1957 when they drafted fullback Jim Brown out of Syracuse, who easily became the NFL's leading rusher (and NFL Rookie of the Year) with 942 yards in a 12-game regular season. Once again at the top of the division at 9–2–1, they advanced back to the Championship Game against Detroit. But the Lions dominated from start to finish, causing six turnovers and allowing the Browns' two quarterbacks (Tommy O'Connell and Milt Plum) only 95 yards passing in a 59–14 rout, the Lions' last league championship to date.

In 1958, Jim Brown ran for 1,527 yards, almost twice as much as any other running back, and the first of seven 1,000-yard seasons in his storied career. Entering the final week of the regular season, the Browns needed to either win or tie against the New York Giants to clinch the Eastern Conference title and the right to host the Championship Game. Starting off on a high note, Brown raced 65 yards on the game's first play for a quick 7-0 Cleveland advantage. Entering the fourth quarter, the Browns held a 10-3 lead, but the Giants tied it, then under worsening weather conditions, won it in the closing moments on a 49-yard field goal by Pat Summerall. That defeat set up a playoff between the same two teams the following week, with the deflated Browns mustering no offense as Brown was held to eight yards, while the team committed four turnovers in a 10–0 loss.

In 1959 the Browns started 6–2 but finished 7–5, out of championship contention, despite Brown once again leading the league in rushing with 1,329 yards. In 1960, Plum threw for 21 touchdowns and Brown's 1,257 yards was still best in the NFL, but the team still finished second at 8–3–1.

Art Modell assumes ownership (1961)

Art Modell purchased the team from David Jones (who had bought the team from McBride in 1953) in 1961. The beginnings of a power struggle between Paul Brown and Art Modell took its toll. Journalist D.L. Stewart recounted in Jeff Miller's book on the AFL, Going Long, "As you well can imagine, Jimmy Brown and Paul were not thick. The buzz was that Jimmy had Modell working for him, and Paul took exception to that."[9] The season otherwise was typical: a fifth consecutive league-leading season from Jim Brown and a half-decent performance in the standings, but again, at 8–5–1, they were two games out of a berth in the championship.

After a 7–6–1 record in 1962, Modell fired Paul Brown on January 9, 1963, and replaced him one week later with longtime assistant Blanton Collier. Many of the Browns' younger players, such as Jim Brown and Frank Ryan, had chafed under Brown's autocratic coaching style; in contrast, Collier ran the club with a much looser grip. He installed a much more open offense and allowed Ryan to call his own plays. In Collier's first season, the Browns won their first six game, but a damaging midseason slump ended up costing them the Eastern Division title as they finished one game back with a 10-4 mark. On an individual level, Jim Brown won Most Valuable Player accolades with a record 1,863 yards rushing.

Blanton Collier era (1963–1970)

Browns win another NFL championship (1964)

In 1964, the Browns went 10–3–1 and reached their first title game in seven years. They throttled the heavily favored Baltimore Colts 27–0, with receiver Gary Collins catching three touchdown passes to earn the MVP award. (As of 2011, this was the most recent sports championship for the city of Cleveland.) [10] The following year, the Browns again reached the title game, but came up short against the Green Bay Packers.

That 1965 title game would mark the final game in a Browns uniform for Jim Brown. During the start of the subsequent training camp, Brown was still in England filming scenes for The Dirty Dozen due to production delays. On July 14, Brown announced his retirement from football to concentrate on his fledgling acting career. The Browns were able to blunt the effect of Brown's departure with the emergence of third-year running back Leroy Kelly, who would rush for more than 1,000 yards in each of the next three seasons, leading the league during the latter two years.

After missing out on the postseason in 1966, the Browns rebounded with a 9-5 season the following year. However, they were quickly eliminated by the Dallas Cowboys, 52-14 in the first round of the playoffs. In each of the next two seasons, the Browns took revenge on the Cowboys in the playoffs, winning by scores of 30-21 and 38-14, respectively. However, both victories were in turn followed by stinging defeats, preventing them from reaching the Super Bowl.

In May 1969, the Browns, along with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Colts, agreed to move in 1970 to the post-merger American Football Conference. Inconsistent performances throughout the 1970 campaign proved to be fatal to postseason hopes as the team finished one game behind Paul Brown's upstart Cincinnati Bengals with a 7-7 record. Late in the 1970 season, Collier officially announced his retirement due to increased hearing problems, and was replaced by the team's offensive coordinator Nick Skorich.

1971–1984: the "Kardiac Kids"

Skorich led the Browns to a division title in 1971 and a wild-card berth in 1972. In the latter year, the Browns battled the undefeated Miami Dolphins before losing 20–14, as the Dolphins went on to capture their first Super Bowl title with a spotless 17–0 mark. In 1973, the Browns were handicapped by a struggling offense, but remained in contention until the closing weeks of the season, finishing with a 7-5-2 record.

However, the team's era of success came to a crashing halt as it dropped to 4–10 in 1974. Neither quarterback Mike Phipps nor rookie Brian Sipe was effective behind center; they threw 24 combined interceptions to only 10 touchdowns. The Browns allowed 344 points, most in the league. It was only the second losing season in franchise history, and it cost Skorich his job.

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Assistant coach Forrest Gregg took over in 1975, but the Browns stumbled out of the gate with an 0–9 start that finally came to an end on November 23 in a 35–23 comeback victory over the Cincinnati Bengals. Three weeks later, third-year running back Greg Pruitt paced the team with 214 yards rushing in a rout over the Kansas City Chiefs, helping the team finish the season 3–11.

Cleveland showed marked improvement with a 9–5 record in 1976 as Brian Sipe firmly took control at quarterback. Sipe had been inserted into the lineup after a Phipps injury in the season-opening win against the New York Jets on September 12. After a 1–3 start brought visions of another disastrous year, the Browns jolted the two-time defending Super Bowl champion Steelers with an 18–16 victory on October 10. Third-string quarterback Dave Mays helped lead the team to that victory, while defensive end Joe "Turkey" Jones's pile-driving sack of Pittsburgh quarterback Terry Bradshaw fueled the heated rivalry between the two teams. That win was the first of eight in the next nine weeks, helping put the Browns in contention for the AFC playoffs. A loss to the Kansas City Chiefs in the regular season finale cost them a share of the division title, but running back Pruitt continued his outstanding play by rushing for exactly 1,000 yards, his second-straight four-digit season.

The Browns continued to roll in the first half of the 1977 season, but an injury to Sipe by Steelers linebacker Jack Lambert on November 13 proved to be disastrous. Cleveland won only one of their last five games to finish at 6–8, a collapse that led to Forrest Gregg's dismissal before the final game of the season. Dick Modzelewski served as interim coach in the team's 20–19 loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

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On December 27, 1977, Sam Rutigliano was named head coach, and he aided a healthy Sipe in throwing 21 touchdowns and garnering 2,900 yards during the 1978 NFL season. Greg Pruitt and Mike Pruitt (no relation) led a rushing attack that gained almost 2,500 yards, but problems with the team's dismal pass defense resulted in the Browns finishing 8–8 on the year.

The 1979 campaign started with four consecutive wins, three of which were in the final minute or overtime. Four more games were won by less than a touchdown. This penchant for playing close games would later earn them the nickname "Kardiac Kids". Sipe threw 28 touchdown passes, tying him with Steve Grogan of New England for most in the league, but his 26 interceptions were the worst in the league. Mike Pruitt had a Pro Bowl season with his 1,294 rushing yards, while the defense was still shaky, ranking near the bottom in rushing defense. The team finished 9–7, behind division rivals Houston and Pittsburgh in a tough AFC Central.

The 1980 season is still fondly remembered by Browns fans. After going 3–3 in the first six games, the Browns won three straight games with fourth-quarter comebacks, and stopped a late comeback by the Baltimore Colts to win a fourth. The Browns won two more games in that fashion by the end of the season, and even lost a game to the Minnesota Vikings on the last play when a Hail Mary pass was tipped into the waiting hands of Ahmad Rashad. Sipe passed for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns with only 14 interceptions (enough for him to be named the NFL MVP), behind an offensive line that sent three members to the Pro Bowl: Doug Dieken, Tom DeLeone and Joe DeLamielleure. The "Kardiac Kids" name stuck. A fourth-quarter field goal by Don Cockroft in the final game against the Bengals helped the Browns capture the division with an 11–5 mark, with the Oakland Raiders their opponent in the team's first playoff game in eight years. However, a heartbreaking end to this dramatic season came in the closing seconds when Rutigliano called what became known as "Red Right 88" and had Sipe pass toward the end zone, only to watch Oakland's Mike Davis intercept the ball. The Raiders went on to win the Super Bowl, and "Red Right 88" has numbered among the list of Cleveland sports curses ever since.

If 1980 was a dream season, then 1981 was a nightmare. Sipe threw only 17 touchdowns while being picked off 25 times. The Browns went 5–11, and few of their games were particularly close. Tight end Ozzie Newsome, their only Pro Bowler, had 1,004 yards receiving for six touchdowns.

In 1982 Sipe split quarterbacking duties with Paul McDonald, and both put up similar numbers. The Browns had little success rushing or defending against it, finishing in the bottom five teams in both yardage categories. Despite going 4–5, Cleveland was able to make the playoffs due to an expanded playoff system in the strike-shortened year. They were matched up again with the Raiders in the playoffs, but were easily defeated 27–10.

Sipe and the Browns got some of their spark back in 1983. Sipe had 26 touchdown passes and 3,566 yards, while Mike Pruitt ran for 10 scores on 1,184 yards. Cleveland even won two games in overtime and another in the fourth quarter. A fourth-quarter loss to the Oilers in their second-to-last game dashed their playoff hopes. At 9–7 the Browns finished one game behind the Steelers, and lost out on a wild-card spot due to a tiebreaker.

1984 was a rebuilding year. Brian Sipe defected to the upstart USFL after the 1983 season, and Paul McDonald was named the starting quarterback. Mike Pruitt missed much of the season and later ended up with the Buffalo Bills. Coach Sam Rutigliano lost his job after a 1–7 start as Marty Schottenheimer took over. The Browns coasted to a 5–11 record.

1985–1990: Bernie Kosar and the Broncos rivalry

In 1985, the Browns selected Miami quarterback Bernie Kosar in the Supplemental Draft. As a rookie, Kosar learned through trial by fire as he took over for Gary Danielson midway through the 1985 season. Progressing a bit more each Sunday, the young quarterback helped turn the struggling season around, as the Browns won four of the six games Kosar started. Two young rushers, Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack, played a large part in the team's success as well; each ran for 1,000+ yards, a feat that would not be repeated until the 2008 season, when Brandon Jacobs and Derrick Ward of the New York Giants each broke the 1,000-yard barrier. The Browns' 8–8 record gave the team the top spot in a weak AFC Central, and they looked poised to shock the heavily favored Miami Dolphins in the Divisional Playoff game with a 21–3 lead at halftime. It took Dan Marino's spirited second-half comeback to win the game for Miami 24–21. While the Browns faithful may have felt the initial sting of disappointment, there was tremendous upside in the loss: Schottenheimer's team, with Kosar at quarterback, reached the playoffs each of the next five seasons, advancing to the AFC Championship Game in three of those years.

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The Browns broke into the ranks of the NFL's elite—particularly on defense—with a 12–4 showing in 1986. Behind Kosar's 3,854 yards passing and one of the league's stingiest defenses featuring five Pro Bowlers (Chip Banks, Hanford Dixon, Bob Golic, Clay Matthews and Frank Minnifield), the Browns dominated the AFC Central with the best record in the AFC and clinched home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. In the Divisional Playoffs, the Browns needed some serious heroics (and a bit of luck) to overcome the New York Jets. The Jets were leading 20–10 with less than four minutes to play, with the Browns in a dire 3rd and 24 situation. As fate would have it, Mark Gastineau was called for roughing the passer, which gave Cleveland a first down. The drive ended with Kevin Mack running into the end zone for a touchdown. After going three-and-out the Jets went back on defense, but allowed the rejuvenated Browns to again drive the ball deep into their end of the field. With 11 seconds remaining in regulation, Mark Moseley kicked a field goal to tie the game. In the first of two ensuing overtime periods, Moseley missed his next attempt, but later redeemed himself by ending what had become the second longest game in NFL history, a 23–20 victory for the Browns.

The 1986 AFC Championship Game saw the Denver Broncos arrive in the windswept, hostile confines of Cleveland Municipal Stadium. No one knew at the time, but the Broncos would become Cleveland's arch-nemesis of the Kosar era, having only lost once to the Browns in a span that still continues to this day. As with the Divisional Playoffs of the previous week, the AFC title game would also prove to be an overtime heart-stopper. But this time, it was John Elway and the Broncos who came away the victors. Pinned in on the Denver two-yard line with 5:11 left to play and the wind in his face, Elway embarked on his now-famous 98-yard march downfield, which is now known by NFL historians as simply "The Drive." With 34 seconds on the clock, Elway's 5-yard touchdown pass to Mark Jackson tied the game at 20 apiece. The 79,973 Browns fans in attendance were silenced when Rich Karlis' field goal attempt just made it inside the left upright to win the game 23–20 for Denver early into overtime.

The Browns' success was replicated in 1987, with 22 touchdown passes and 3,000 yards for Kosar and eight Pro Bowlers (Kosar, Mack, Dixon, Golic, Minnifield, linebacker Clay Matthews, wide receiver Gerald McNeil, and offensive lineman Cody Risien). Cleveland won another AFC Central crown with a 10–5 record and easily defeated the Indianapolis Colts 38–21 in the divisional playoff to set up a rematch with the Broncos in the AFC Championship Game in Denver. With the score 21–3 in favor of the Broncos at halftime, Kosar led a third-quarter comeback with two touchdowns by Earnest Byner and another by Reggie Langhorne. Early in the fourth quarter, Webster Slaughter's 4-yard touchdown catch tied the game at 31–31. The Broncos regained the lead with a 20-yard Sammy Winder touchdown with less than five minutes to go, setting the stage for another Browns comeback ... or so they thought. Kosar drove the Browns to the Broncos' 8-yard line with 1:12 to go, and handed off to Byner. Just when it looked like he had an open route to the end zone, Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille stripped him of the ball. The Broncos recovered what became known as "The Fumble". After taking an intentional safety, the Broncos had shocked the Browns again, 38–33.

Injuries to Kosar and two of his backups sidelined them for much of the 1988 season, but the Browns still finished 10–6. A final-week comeback victory in a snowstorm at Cleveland Municipal Stadium over the Houston Oilers clinched them a wild-card playoff spot and a home game rematch against the Oilers in the first round. After Mike Pagel, in for an injured Don Strock (the recently signed ex-Dolphins quarterback), threw a touchdown pass to Webster Slaughter late in the fourth quarter to pull the Browns within a point at 24–23, the Browns had three chances to recover an onside kick (due to penalties), but the Oilers recovered and stopped the Cleveland comeback.

Schottenheimer left the Browns by mutual agreement with Modell shortly after the loss to the Oilers. Modell was tired of losing in the playoffs, and Schottenheimer was tired of what he perceived as Modell's interference with his coaching personnel and game strategy. The Kansas City Chiefs quickly hired Schottenheimer for the 1989 season. Bud Carson was his replacement in Cleveland, but his tenure was short—only one and a half years.

The 1989 season opened with the Browns defeating the rival Pittsburgh Steelers at Three Rivers Stadium in Pittsburgh 51–0, which as of 2012 remains the most lopsided game in the rivalry as well as the all-time worst loss for the Steelers. The rest of the season was headlined by Slaughter's Pro Bowl-worthy 1,236 yards receiving, and was a success at 7–3 until a 10–10 tie with Schottenheimer's Chiefs in November led to a 3-game losing streak. Two comeback wins over the Minnesota Vikings and Houston Oilers in the season's final two weeks kept them in the playoff race. The tie ended up being the Browns' saving grace, with their 9–6–1 record winning them the AFC Central title and first-round bye over the Oilers and Pittsburgh Steelers at 9–7. The Browns narrowly survived a scare from the Buffalo Bills in their divisional playoff game, when Scott Norwood missed an extra point that would have pulled Buffalo within three points and, later, when Jim Kelly's desperation pass to the end zone on the final play of the game was intercepted by Clay Matthews.

Cleveland's 34–30 win set them up for another tilt with the Broncos in Denver for the AFC Championship. While their two previous matchups went down to the wire, the result of this particular game was never in doubt. The Broncos led from start to finish, and a long Elway touchdown pass to Sammy Winder put the game away in the fourth quarter. Denver easily won 37–21.

In 1990 things began to unravel. Kosar threw more interceptions (15) than touchdowns (10) for the first time in his career; and the team finished last in the league in rushing offense, and near the bottom in rushing defense. Carson was fired after a 2–7 start, and the team finished 3–13, second-worst in the league. After the season Bill Belichick, defensive coordinator of the then-Super Bowl champion New York Giants, was named head coach.

1991–1995: Bill Belichick and Modell's move

The Browns saw only a slight improvement under Belichick in 1991, finishing 6–10. Kosar was markedly better, with a ratio of 18 touchdowns to 9 interceptions, and Leroy Hoard had a breakout season. The next season, with Kosar sitting out much of the season and Mike Tomczak in under center, Cleveland was in the thick of the AFC Central race before dropping their final three games to finish 7–9.

The 1993 season saw Belichick make the controversial decision of cutting Kosar while back-up Vinny Testaverde, who had been signed from the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, was injured. The Browns were in first place at the time and the Browns faltered as Todd Philcox became the starter. Kosar was signed by the Dallas Cowboys and a few days later led the Cowboys to a win in place of an injured Troy Aikman. Kosar would win a ring that season as the Cowboys won the Super Bowl with a healthy Aikman. Cleveland won only two of its final nine games finishing 7–9 once again.

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Cleveland managed to right the ship in 1994, although the quarterback situation hadn't quite improved. A solid defense led the league for fewest yards allowed per attempt, sending four players (Rob Burnett, Pepper Johnson, Michael Dean Perry, and Eric Turner) to the Pro Bowl. The Browns finished 11–5, making the playoffs for the first time in four seasons. In the AFC Wild Card game against the New England Patriots, the Browns' defense picked off Drew Bledsoe three times, with Testaverde completing two-thirds of his passes, to win 20–13. Arch-rival Pittsburgh ended the Browns' season the following week, however, with a 29–9 blowout in the AFC Divisional game.

Modell announced on November 6, 1995, that he had signed a deal to relocate the Browns to Baltimore in 1996—a move which would return the NFL to Baltimore for the first time since the Colts relocated to Indianapolis after the 1983 season. The very next day, on November 7, 1995, Cleveland voters overwhelmingly approved an issue that had been placed on the ballot at Modell's request, before he made his decision to move the franchise, which provided $175 million in tax dollars to refurbish the outmoded and declining Cleveland Municipal Stadium.[11] Modell's plan was later scrapped and taxpayers ultimately paid close to $300 million to demolish the old stadium and construct a new stadium for the Browns on the site of Municipal Stadium.

Browns fans reacted angrily to the news. Over 100 lawsuits were filed by fans, the city of Cleveland, and a host of others. Congress held hearings on the matter. Actor/comedian Drew Carey returned to his hometown of Cleveland on November 26, 1995, to host "Fan Jam" in protest of the proposed move. A protest was held in Pittsburgh during the Browns' game there but ABC, the network broadcasting the game, declined to cover or mention the protest. It was one of the few instances that Steelers fans and Browns fans were supporting each other, as fans in Pittsburgh felt that Modell was robbing their team of their rivalry with the Browns.[11] Virtually all of the team's sponsors immediately pulled their support, leaving Municipal Stadium devoid of advertising during the team's final weeks.

The 1995 season was a disaster on the field as well. After starting 3–1, the Browns lost 3 straight before the news broke about the team's impending move cut the legs out from under the team. They finished 5–11, including a 2–7 record in the nine games after the announcement. When fans in the Dawg Pound became unruly during their final home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, action moving towards that end zone had to be moved to the opposite end of the field. Rows of empty seats were torn from the stadium and thrown on the field. Stalls and sinks in the restrooms were torn from the walls. Several fans set fires in the stands, especially in the "Dawg Pound" section, and assaulted security officials and police officers who tried to quell the growing fires.[12] The Browns won their final home game.[13] Belichick resigned early in February 1996.

1996–1999: inactivity

After extensive talks between the NFL, the Browns, and officials of the two cities, Cleveland accepted a legal settlement that would keep the Browns legacy in Cleveland.[14] In February 1996, the NFL announced that the Browns would be 'deactivated' for three years, and that a new stadium would be built for a new Browns team, as either an expansion team or a team moved from another city, that would begin play in 1999. Modell would in turn be granted a new franchise, the NFL's 31st, for Baltimore, the Baltimore Ravens, retaining the current contracts of players and personnel. The Browns ceased play at the end of the 1995 season when Modell relocated the organization to Baltimore. The Browns franchise was then reactivated, and its roster restocked via an expansion draft before resuming play in the 1999 season. There would be a new team, but the Browns' name, colors, history, records, awards and archives would all remain in Cleveland.[14] Coincidentally, the only other current NFL team to suspend operations without merging with another, the St. Louis Rams, had once played in Cleveland (they suspended during the 1943 season, at the height of World War II, during their time in Cleveland).[15]

The move also fueled a proliferation of 12 new stadiums throughout the NFL. Using the NFL–City of Cleveland agreement's promise to supply a team to Cleveland by 1999, several NFL franchises used the threat of relocation to coerce their respective cities to build new stadiums with public funds. Such franchises include the Broncos, Patriots, Eagles, Seahawks, Buccaneers, Bengals, Steelers, Lions, Cardinals, and Colts.[16]

Cleveland NFL Football LLC (Cleveland Browns Trust) was formed by the NFL. President of the Trust was Bill Futterer, and NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue was the Trustee. The Trust represented the NFL in the stadium design and construction, managed the sale of suites and club seats, and sold Permanent Seat Licenses and season tickets. Additionally, the Trust reorganized the Browns Backers fan clubs across the United States, resumed coaches shows on television and radio throughout the state of Ohio, and conducted a dramatic one-year countdown celebration that incorporated the first live Internet broadcast in NFL history.

The Trust operated its campaign under a Countdown to '99 theme, utilizing Hall of Famers such as Lou Groza and Jim Brown extensively, and sold nearly 53,000 season tickets—a team record in 1998. It remains the only time in professional American football history that a league operated a team "in absentia" in order to preserve the history of the franchise and to build value in that franchise for the future owner. The NFL sold the Browns as an expansion team in 1998 for a North American record $530 million for a professional franchise, more than double any previous selling price for a pro sports team. Commissioner Tagliabue announced that the Browns would be an expansion team, rather than a relocated team, at the owners meeting in March 1998.[15]

Officially, the National Football League, Pro Football Hall of Fame, Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens all recognize the current Browns team as a continuation of the team founded in 1946.[15] The Ravens 1998 Fan and Media Guide referred to longtime staffers as having worked for "The Modell organization" before the Ravens were created in 1996.[17]

1999–2004: Browns franchise reactivated: Rejoining the NFL

File:Cleveland Browns October 2004.jpg

Cleveland returned to the NFL in 1999 with high hopes and expectations, featuring deep-pocketed ownership in Al Lerner. The team's football operations appeared to be in solid hands in the form of president and CEO Carmen Policy and general manager Dwight Clark, both of whom had come from the San Francisco 49ers. Chris Palmer, former offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars, was hired as head coach. The team was rebuilt from a special expansion draft and the regular NFL draft; the latter included the number one selection, QB Tim Couch.

It was to be expected that the resurrected Browns would struggle at first, as for all practical purposes they were an expansion team. However, the Browns' first two seasons were awful even by expansion standards. 1999 started with a home game against the rival Pittsburgh Steelers on ESPN Sunday Night Football, with Cleveland native Drew Carey participating in the opening-game coin toss. However, it would be the only highlight for the Browns that night. The Steelers got revenge on the 51–0 loss to the Browns ten years earlier (though Steelers All-Pro center Dermontti Dawson was the only player remaining from either team from the 1989 game) by beating the Browns 43–0 in their first game back. Though it is not the team's worst loss ever, it is their second worst loss since the team returned to the NFL, behind a 48–0 loss to Jacksonville on December 3, 2000.

The 1999 season saw the Browns start 0–7 en route to a 2–14 finish, the worst in franchise history. 2000 was slightly better, with a 3–13 finish—the lone highlight being the Browns' first home win in five years, against the Steelers on September 17. Compounding the fans' frustration was the Baltimore Ravens' win over the New York Giants in Super Bowl XXXV that season. Though the Ravens were considered a "new franchise", the team still had players such as Matt Stover and Rob Burnett who had played for the Browns before the Modell move. Palmer was fired after the season and replaced by Miami (FL) Hurricanes coach Butch Davis.

Under Davis the Browns became more competitive, finishing 7–9 in 2001, three games out of the playoffs. With the team apparently close to being a contender again, Clark was forced to resign after the season, and Davis was named general manager as well as coach. In 2002, the Browns finished 9–7, and due to multiple tiebreakers they made the playoffs for the first time since 1994. Facing Pittsburgh in the first round, the Browns led 33–21 with five minutes to go, but ultimately lost 36–33. Their largest lead in the game was 17 points—they led 24–7 in the third quarter; after that point the Steelers outscored them 29–9.

The Browns did not sustain the momentum, finishing with double-digit losing records in 2003 and 2004. Davis resigned in December 2004 with the team shouldering a 3–8 record; Policy had resigned earlier in the year. Offensive Coordinator Terry Robiskie was named interim head coach for the remainder of the 2004 season.

2005–2008: the Savage/Crennel era

File:CB 07-04-2008 01;22;59PM.JPG

Before the 2005 season began, Romeo Crennel, a one-time Browns assistant coach under Chris Palmer and, at the time, defensive coordinator for the New England Patriots, was named the Browns head coach. The team also hired Phil Savage as a new general manager. But despite the changes, the 2005 and 2006 seasons saw the Browns losing trend continue, with records of 6–10 and 4–12. Prior to the Browns' final game of the 2005 NFL season, ESPN reported that team president John Collins was going to fire Savage. However, the resulting uproar from fans and local media was strong, and on January 3, 2006 Collins resigned instead. The role of team "President and CEO" was vacated until 2008, with owner Randy Lerner filling in as de facto CEO until Michael Keenan was hired.

In the 2007 season, the team saw a remarkable turnaround on the field. After opening the season with a 34–7 defeat by the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns traded starting quarterback Charlie Frye to the Seattle Seahawks, with backup Derek Anderson assuming the starting role. In his first start, Anderson led the Browns to a 51–45 win over the Cincinnati Bengals, tying the franchise record of five touchdown passes in a single game. The Browns finished the 2007 season a surprising 10–6, but missed the playoffs due to tie-breaker rules. Nevertheless, the record was the team's best since 1994.

Six players earned Pro Bowl recognition, with Anderson starting for the AFC in place of New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady.[18] Coach Crennel agreed to a two-year contract extension.[19]

The Browns entered the 2008 season with high expectations, and many pundits predicted that the team would win the division.[20] The highlight of the season was an upset of the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants on Monday Night Football. However, inconsistent play and key injuries led to a disappointing 4–12 record. The Browns ended up using four starting quarterbacks during the season: Derek Anderson, Brady Quinn and Ken Dorsey were lost to injury; the fourth, Bruce Gradkowski, was hired mid-season. Ending with six straight losses, the Browns finished with a franchise first two consecutive shutouts [21] Savage and Crennel were subsequently fired.[22][23]

2009–present: The Mike Holmgren era

File:SeahawksTC-EWU-018.jpg

On January 5, 2009, the Browns hired former New York Jets coach Eric Mangini as head coach.[24] Mangini, who started his career as a ballboy in Cleveland, worked as an assistant under former Browns coach Bill Belichick until becoming head coach of the Jets in 2006. On January 25, the team hired George Kokinis as the team's general manager. The Browns continued to struggle as they became accustomed to a completely new coaching staff. Throughout the preseason, Brady Quinn and Derek Anderson competed for the starting quarterback position. Quinn ended up winning the job, but after three games marked by team inconsistency (and an 0–3 record), he was benched in favor of Anderson. On November 1, the team announced the firing of GM Kokinis after only 8 regular season games (and a 1–7 record), with his duties essentially being assumed by Mangini. Soon afterwards, Mangini decided that a quarterback switch was to be made again, and Quinn given the starting job back. After being 1–11 at the three-quarters point in the season (12 games), the team went on a four-game winning streak and finished with a record of 5–11, highlighted by the team beating the Steelers after twelve consecutive losses against their bitter rival.

On December 21, 2009, as Mangini's first season was coming to a close, former Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks head coach Mike Holmgren was hired as team President and was given authority over the team's football operations. This hire was made after Browns owner Randy Lerner announced that he wished to bring in a "serious, credible leader" to steer the team in the right direction.

After much public speculation by the media that Holmgren and Mangini would not be able to co-exist,[25] Holmgren announced the retaining of Mangini and the entire coaching staff for the 2010 season.[26] The following week, Holmgren hired former Philadelphia Eagles general manager Tom Heckert to become the new GM for the Browns.

After taking control as President, Holmgren decided to release Anderson and trade away Quinn (getting back eventual 1,100+ yard rusher and fan favorite RB Peyton Hillis in return). He signed veteran quarterback Jake Delhomme, who had led the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2003, along with veteran backup Seneca Wallace from the Seattle Seahawks. During the 2010 draft, the team of Holmgren, Heckert and Mangini focused mostly on improving the team's defensive secondary, although they also managed to acquire the University of Texas's Colt McCoy in the third round; McCoy has the most recorded wins as a starting quarterback in NCAA history.

File:Patshurmur1.jpg

Despite heading into the 2010 season with an overall sense of optimism, the Browns started off poorly. They set an NFL record when they lost their first three games after leading in the fourth quarter. They finally won their first game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 4. However, both Delhomme and Wallace injured their ankles over the first five games, forcing Colt McCoy to start in Week 6 against the Steelers even though Mike Holmgren stated that he would sit and learn the entire season.

Though McCoy lost his first NFL start against the Steelers, he was able to win the following week when the Browns upset the defending Super Bowl Champions, the New Orleans Saints. With this victory, the Browns defeated the defending Super Bowl Champions three years in a row, becoming the seventh NFL team to achieve this feat.[27]

The Browns continued this positive streak by outplaying the New England Patriots for a 34–14 victory in their next game. However, they lost to the New York Jets in overtime the following week, despite a late 4th quarter game tying touchdown drive by McCoy. On January 3, 2011, after losing four games in a row to end the season, Holmgren and the Browns decided to fire head coach Eric Mangini, who posted a record of 10–22 in his two seasons as head coach.[28] Eleven days later, Holmgren signed St. Louis Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur to become the new head coach, and former Buffalo Bills and Chicago Bears head coach Dick Jauron as their defensive coordinator. The Browns would go 4-12 in Shumur's first season, including losing six in a row to end the 2011 campaign.

In July 2012, owner Randy Lerner announced that he planned to sell the Browns to businessman Jimmy Haslam III, with former Eagles president Joe Banner also expressing interest in being part of the new ownership group.[29] The sale was finalized on August 2, 2012 in excess of $1 Billion (USD).[30]

Logos and uniforms

Logos

The Browns are the only team in the NFL that does not have a logo on their helmets. However, the team has had various promotional logos throughout the years, such as the "Brownie Elf" mascot or a Brown "B" in a white football. While Art Modell did away with the Brownie Elf in the mid-1960s, believing it to be too childish, its use has been revived under the current ownership. In 1965, NFL Creative Services designed a brown "CB" logo for the Browns' helmet. It was never used in any games.[31] Finally, the popularity of the Dawg Pound section at Cleveland Browns Stadium has led to a brown and orange dog being used for various Browns functions. But overall, the orange, logo-less helmet continues to remain as the primary trademark of the Cleveland Browns.

Uniforms

The original designs of the jerseys, pants, and socks have remained mostly the same, but the helmets have gone through many significant revisions throughout the years.

Jerseys: 1. Home Uniforms: brown (officially "seal brown") with white numerals and a white-orange-white-orange-white stripe sequence on the sleeves. 2. Away Uniforms: white with brown numerals and a brown-orange-brown-orange-brown stripe sequence on the sleeves. The three white or brown stripes are approximately twice the width of the two orange stripes. (The original 1946 jerseys featured block-shadow numerals.) 3. A third orange jersey was used for night games in the 1954 season, as well as from 2002–2005 when the NFL encouraged teams to create a third jersey.

Pants: 1. White – white with an orange-brown-orange stripe sequence on the sides (the stripes are of equal width). 2. Brown – solid brown (no stripes). Orange pants with a wider brown-white-brown stripe sequence were worn from 1975–1983 and become symbolic of the "Kardiac Kids" era. The orange pants were worn again occasionally in 2003 and 2004.

Socks: Brown or white with matching stripe pattern to jerseys (1946–1983; 1985–1995; 1999–2002 mid-season); solid brown with brown jerseys and solid orange with white jerseys (1984); solid brown when worn with white pants (2002 mid-season–2008); white striped socks with brown pants (2009) Exceptions: White striped socks appeared occasionally with the white jerseys in 2003–2005 and again in 2007. Brown striped socks appeared with 1957-style throwback uniforms in 2006–2008.

Helmet: Solid white (1946–1949); solid white for day games and solid orange for night games (1950–1951); orange with a single white stripe (1952–1956); orange with a single white stripe and brown numerals on the sides (1957–1959); orange with a brown-white-brown stripe sequence and brown numerals on the sides (1960); orange with a brown-white-brown stripe sequence (1961–1995 and 1999–present).

Over the years, the Browns have had on-again / off-again periods of wearing white for their home games, particularly in the 1970s and 1980s, as well as in the early 2000s after the team returned to the league. Until recently, when more NFL teams have started to wear white at home at least once a season, the Browns were the only non-subtropical team north of the Mason-Dixon line to wear white at home on a regular basis.

Numerals first appeared on the jersey sleeves in 1961. Over the years, there have been minor revisions to the sleeve stripes, the first occurring in 1968 (brown jerseys worn in early season) and 1969 (white and brown jerseys) when stripes began to be silk screened onto the sleeves and separated from each other to prevent color bleeding. However, the basic five-stripe sequence has remained intact (with the exception of the 1984 season). A recent revision was the addition of the initials "AL" to honor team owner Al Lerner who died in 2002.

Orange pants with a brown-white-brown stripe sequence were worn from 1975–1983 and become symbolic of the "Kardiac Kids" era. The orange pants were worn again occasionally in 2003 and 2004.

Other than the helmet, the uniform was completely redesigned for the 1984 season. New striping patterns appeared on the white jerseys, brown jerseys and pants. Solid brown socks were worn with brown jerseys and solid orange socks were worn with white jerseys. Brown numerals on the white jerseys were outlined in orange. White numerals on the brown jerseys were double outlined in brown and orange. (Orange numerals double outlined in brown and white appeared briefly on the brown jerseys in one pre-season game.[32]) However, this particular uniform set was not popular with the fans, and in 1985 the uniform was returned to a look similar to the original design. It remained that way until 1995.

In 1999, the expansion Browns adopted the traditional design with two exceptions: 1.) Jersey-sleeve numbers were moved to the shoulders, and 2.) The orange-brown-orange pants stripes were significantly widened.

Experimentation with the uniform design began in 2002. An alternate orange jersey was introduced that season as the NFL encouraged teams to adopt a third jersey, and a major design change was made when solid brown socks appeared for the first time since 1984 and were used with white, brown and orange jerseys. Other than 1984, striped socks (matching the jersey stripes) had been a signature design element in the team's traditional uniform. The white striped socks would appeared occasionally with the white jerseys in 2003–2005 and 2007.

Experimentation continued in 2003 and 2004 when the traditional orange-brown-orange stripes on the white pants were replaced by two variations of a brown-orange-brown sequence, one in which the stripes were joined (worn with white jerseys) and the other in which they were separated by white (worn with brown jerseys). The joined sequence was used exclusively with both jerseys in 2005. In 2006, the traditional orange-brown-orange sequence returned.

Additionally in 2006, the team reverted to an older uniform style, featuring gray face masks; the original stripe pattern on the brown jersey sleeves (The white jersey has had that sleeve stripe pattern on a consistent basis since the 1985 season.) and the older, darker shade of brown.[33]

The Browns wore brown pants for the first time in team history on August 18, 2008, preseason game against the New York Giants. The pants contain no stripes or markings. The team had the brown pants created as an option for their away uniform when they integrated the gray facemask in 2006.[34] They were not worn again until the Browns "family" scrimmage on August 9, 2009 with white-striped socks.[35] The Browns continued to wear the brown pants throughout the 2009 season.[36]

Then Browns quarterback Brady Quinn supported the team's move to wearing the brown pants full time, claiming that the striped pattern on the white pants "prohibit[ed] mobility".[37]

However, the fans generally did not like the brown pants, and after being used for only one season, the team returned to their white shirt-on-white pants in 2010. Coach Eric Mangini told The Plain Dealer the Browns won't use the brown pants anymore. "It wasn't very well-received," Mangini said. "I hope we can get to the point where we can wear fruit on our heads and people wouldn't notice."[38] The Browns once again began wearinge white at home for the 2011 season, which marked the first time wearing white jerseys at home since 2008.[39] The Browns brought back the brown pants in their home game against the Buffalo Bills on October 3, 2013 on Thursday Night Football, pairing them with the brown jerseys. It marked the first time the team wore an all-brown combination in team history.[40]

2015: Major logo/unifom/helmet change

On April 14, 2015, the Cleveland Browns unveiled their new uniform combinations, consisting of the team's colors of orange, brown and white.[41][42]

Logo/Jersey Image Gallery

Rivals

The Cleveland Browns have rivalries with all three of its AFC North opponents. In addition, the team has had historical rivalries with the Indianapolis Colts, Denver Broncos, and Detroit Lions.

The team's biggest rival in the AAFC was the San Francisco 49ers, though this has cooled and in some cases turned into a friendly relationship, as many 49ers personnel helped the Browns relaunch in 1999 as well as current team President Mike Holmgren having started his NFL career in San Francisco. In addition, 49ers owners John York & Denise DeBartolo York reside in the Youngstown, Ohio, 76 miles southeast of Cleveland.

Pittsburgh Steelers

Often called the "Turnpike Rivalry",[43] the Browns' main rival has long been the Pittsburgh Steelers. Though the Browns dominated this rivalry early in the series (winning the first eight matchups), the Steelers currently have the all-time edge 61–56, making it the oldest rivalry in the AFC and also the most even. Former Browns owner Art Modell scheduled home games against the Steelers on Saturday night from 1964–1970 to help fuel the rivalry. The rivalry has been fueled by the proximity of the two teams, number of championships both teams have won, players and personnel having played and/or coached for both sides, and personal bitterness. Though the rivalry has cooled in Pittsburgh due to the Modell move (as well as the Browns having a 4–20 record against the Steelers since returning to the league in 1999), the Steelers remain the top rival for Cleveland.

Cincinnati Bengals

Originally conceived due to the personal animosity between Paul Brown and Art Modell, the "Battle of Ohio" between the Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals have been fueled by the sociocultural differences between Cincinnati and Cleveland, a shared history between the two teams, and even similar team colors, since Brown used the exact shade of orange for the Bengals that he used for the Browns. (Though this has changed since then, as the Bengals now use a brighter shade of orange.) Modell, in fact, moved the Browns to the AFC after the AFL–NFL merger in order to have a rivalry with the Bengals. The rivalry has also produced two of the eight highest-scoring games in NFL history. Cincinnati has the all-time edge 41–36.

Baltimore Ravens

Created as a result of the Cleveland Browns relocation controversy, the rivalry between the Browns and the Ravens is more directed at Art Modell than the team itself, and is simply considered a divisional game in Baltimore. The Ravens still have many personnel that were in Cleveland at the time of the move, and won Super Bowl XXXV only five years after the move to the dismay of Browns fans. Unlike the other two rivalries, this one is more lopsided: Baltimore leads it 16–7.[44]

Fan Base

Dawg Pound

Perhaps the most visible Browns fans are those that can be found in the Dawg Pound. Originally the name for the bleacher section located in the open (east) end of old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the current incarnation of is likewise located in the east end of Cleveland Browns Stadium and still features hundreds of orange and brown clad fans sporting various canine-related paraphernalia. The fans adopted that name in 1984 after members of the Browns defense used it to describe the team's defense.[45]

Retired cornerback Hanford Dixon, who played his entire career for the Browns (1981–1989), is credited with naming the Cleveland Browns defense 'The Dawgs' in the mid-80's. Dixon and fellow teammates Frank Minnifield, and Eddie Johnson would bark at each other and to the fans in the bleachers at the Cleveland Stadium to fire them up. It was from Dixon's naming that the Dawg Pound subsequently took its title.[46] The fans adopted that name in the years after.[45]

Browns Backers

File:CleBBW.png

The most prominent organization of Browns fans is the Browns Backers Worldwide (BBW). The organization has approximately 94,208 members[47] and is considered the largest sports-fan organization in the USA.[47] Browns Backers clubs can be found in every major city in the United States, and in a number of military bases throughout the world, with the largest club being in Phoenix, Arizona. In addition, the organization has a sizable foreign presence in places as far away as Egypt, Australia, Japan, Sri Lanka, and McMurdo Station in Antarctica.[48] According to The Official Fan Club of the Cleveland Browns, the two largest international fan clubs are in Alon Shvut, Israel and Niagara Falls, Ontario, with Alon Shvut having 129 members and Niagara having 310.[49]

A 2006 study conducted by Bizjournal determined that Browns fans are the most loyal fans in the NFL. The study, while not scientific, was largely based on fan loyalty during winning and losing seasons, attendance at games, and challenges confronting fans (such as inclement weather or long-term poor performance of their team).[50] The study noted that Browns fans filled 99.8% of the seats at Cleveland Browns Stadium during the last seven seasons, despite a combined record of 36 wins and 76 losses over that span.[51]

Following Browns owner Randy Lerner's acquisition of English football club Aston Villa, official Villa outlets have started selling Cleveland Browns goods such as jerseys and NFL balls. This has raised interest in England and strengthened the link between the two sporting clubs. Aston Villa supporters have set up an organization known as the Aston (Villa) Browns Backers of Birmingham.[52]

Players of note

Current roster

Cleveland Browns current roster
Quarterbacks

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen

Linebackers

Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists
  • Currently vacant


Rookies in italics

Roster updated May 9, 2019
Depth chartTransactions
89 active, 0 inactive, 2 unsigned

AFC rostersNFC rosters



Players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame

The Cleveland Browns have the fourth largest number of players enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame with a total of sixteen enshrined players elected based on their performance with the Browns, and five more players elected who spent at least one year with the Browns franchise.[53] No Browns players were inducted in the inaugural induction class of 1963. Otto Graham was the first Brown to be enshrined as a member of the class of 1965, and the most recent Brown to be included in the Pro Football Hall of Fame is Gene Hickerson, who was a member of the class of 2007.

Pro Football Hall of Famers
Inducted No. Player name Tenure Position(s)
1965 60, 14 Otto Graham 1946–1955 Quarterback
1967 Paul Brown 1946–1962 Head coach
1968 76, 36 Marion Motley 1946–1953 Fullback
1971 32 Jim Brown 1957–1965 Fullback
1974 46, 76 Lou Groza 1946–1959
1961–1967
Offensive tackle
Placekicker
1975 56, 86 Dante Lavelli 1946–1956 Wide receiver
1976 53, 80 Len Ford 1950–1957 Defensive end
1977 30, 45, 60 Bill Willis 1946–1953 Middle guard
Offensive guard
1981 77 Willie Davis 1958–1959 Defensive end
1982 83 Doug Atkins 1953–1954 Defensive end
1983 49 Bobby Mitchell 1958–1961 Wide receiver
Halfback
1983 42 Paul Warfield 1964–1969
1976–1977
Wide receiver
1984 74 Mike McCormack 1954–1962 Offensive tackle
1985 22, 52 Frank Gatski 1946–1956 Offensive center
1987 18 Len Dawson 1960–1961 Quarterback
1994 44 Leroy Kelly 1964–1973 Running back
1995 72 Henry Jordan 1957–1958 Defensive tackle
1998 29 Tommy McDonald 1968 Wide receiver
1999 82 Ozzie Newsome 1978–1990 Tight end
2003 64 Joe DeLamielleure 1980–1984 Offensive guard
2007 66 Gene Hickerson 1958–1960
1962–1973
Offensive guard
† Performance with Browns incidental to induction

Cleveland Browns Legends

The Legends program honors former Browns who made noteworthy contributions to the history of the franchise. In addition to all the Hall of Famers listed above, the Legends list includes:[54]

Cleveland Browns Legends
Inducted Player name Position(s)
2001 Bernie Kosar Quarterback
2001 Michael Dean Perry Defensive end
2001 Greg Pruitt Running back
2001 Ray Renfro Wide receiver
2002 Clay Matthews Linebacker
2002 Brian Sipe Quarterback
2002 Mac Speedie Wide receiver
2003 Hanford Dixon Defensive back
2003 Bob Gain Defensive tackle
2003 Dick Schafrath Offensive tackle
2004 Gary Collins Wide Receiver
2004 Tommy James Defensive back/Punter
2004 Dub Jones Wide Receiver
2004 Mike Pruitt Running back
2005 Frank Minnifield Defensive back
2005 Frank Ryan Quarterback
2005 Jerry Sherk Defensive lineman
2005 Jim Ray Smith Offensive tackle
2006 Earnest Byner Running back
2006 Doug Dieken Offensive tackle
2006 Jim Houston Linebacker
2006 Walt Michaels Linebacker
2007 Don Cockroft Kicker
2007 Horace Gillom Punter
2007 Bill Glass Defensive end
2007 Kevin Mack Running back
2008 Walter Johnson Defensive tackle
2008 Warren Lahr Defensive back
2008 Eric Metcalf Running back
2008 Paul Wiggin Defensive end
2010 Cody Risien Offensive tackle
2010 John Wooten Offensive guard
2011 Vince Costello Linebacker
2011 Tom DeLeone Center

Pro Bowlers

Retired uniform numbers

Template:Cleveland Browns retired numbers

Browns Ring of Honor

Beginning in 2010, the Browns established a Ring of Honor, honoring the greats from the past by having their names displayed around the upper deck of Cleveland Browns Stadium. The inaugural class in the Browns Ring of Honor was unveiled during the home opener on September 19, 2010, and featured the sixteen Hall of Famers listed above who went in to the Hall of Fame as Browns.

Starting quarterbacks

First-round draft picks

Coaches of note

Head coaches

Current staff

Cleveland Browns current staff
Front Office

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches

 

Defensive Coaches

Special Teams Coaches

Strength and Conditioning

Coaching Staff
More NFL staffs </div>


Radio and TV

Since 2001, the Browns' flagship radio stations are WMMS FM 100.7 and WTAM AM 1100. Jim Donovan--sports director of WKYC channel 3 (NBC)--is the play-by-play announcer, former Browns offensive tackle Doug Dieken is the color analyst, with Clevelandbrowns.com and SportsTime Ohio personality Jamir Howerton serving as sideline reporter. WTAM morning co-host/sports director Mike Snyder and former Browns quarterback Mike Pagel host the pregame show, while WTAM sports anchor/reporter Andre Knott hosts the postgame show. WTAM will broadcast the Cleveland Indians games while WMMS will broadcast Browns games when both teams play at the same time.

Preseason telecasts air on WKYC, with Jim Donovan and former Browns QB Bernie Kosar in the booth, and WKYC weekend sports anchor Dave Chudowski as sideline reporter. When Donovan does TV, Mike Snyder moves to radio play-by-play, and WTAM evening host Bob Frantz does the pregame show with Pagel.

The team also produces a daily radio program titled Cleveland Browns Daily hosted by former NFL.com writer Vic Carducci. The show airs on WKNR AM 850 (the program is unable to air on either of the flagship stations due to conflicts with other programming).

WKYC is the "official" over-the-air home of the team, airing all preseason telecasts (unless they're nationally televised). The team also produces a weekly show called Browns Insider, which airs on Cleveland Fox affiliate WJW channel 8.

SportsTime Ohio is the official cable home of the team, and airs numerous weekly Browns related programs.

When a game is broadcast on either ESPN or NFL Network, a local over-the-air station will simulcast the game (as per NFL policy). WJW has been airing the bulk of these games in recent years, though Browns TV partner WKYC has occasionally picked up the games as well.

Pop culture

Cleveland native Arsenio Hall's television program, The Arsenio Hall Show, was known for the audience's shouting "Woof, woof, woof!" while pumping their fists—a chant that was used by fans of the Cleveland Browns football team. He would refer to a section of the live audience as his "dawg pound."

Cleveland Brown is the name of a character originally featured on the Fox TV show Family Guy, and the central character of the spin-off series The Cleveland Show.

References

  1. Rosenthal, Gregg. "Cleveland Browns' sale to Jimmy Haslam complete", National Football League, August 2, 2012. Retrieved on August 4, 2012. 
  2. Cabot, Mary Kay. "Cleveland Browns sale to Jimmy Haslam group is complete", The Plain Dealer, August 2, 2012. Retrieved on August 2, 2012. 
  3. Team Encyclopedias and Records. Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved on 2010-12-30.
  4. Anderson, Dave. "Five Stories With No Super Bowl Chapters", New York Times, January 31, 2009. Retrieved on 15 February 2009. 
  5. Doerschuk, Steve. "Browns now one of only four teams to never reach Super Bowl", Canton Repository, January 25, 2010. Retrieved on January 25, 2010. 
  6. Levy, Bill (1965). Return to Glory: the Story of the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland, OH: The World Publishing Co. LCN 65-23356, p.41. 
  7. Articles about Joe Louis – Page 2 – Baltimore Sun. Baltimore Sun. Retrieved on 2011-04-16.
  8. Neft, David S.; Cohen, Richard M. & Korch, Rick (1994). The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional Football from 1892 to the Present (Second ed.). New York: St. Martin's Press. p. 194. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  9. Miller, Jeff (2003). Going Long. New York: Contemporary Books, McGraw Hill. p. 268. Template:Citation/identifier. 
  10. Cleveland Browns. Clevelandbrowns.com. Retrieved on 2008-12-13.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Sandomir, Richard. "A City Fights To Save The Browns", New York Times, 1995-11-12. Retrieved on 2010-08-07. 
  12. Fans get unruly about overturned call in final minute (December 2001). Retrieved on 2011-12-01.
  13. 1995 Cleveland Browns Statistics & Players. Pro-Football-Reference.com. Retrieved on 2010-12-30.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Morgan, Jon. Deal clears NFL path to Baltimore, The Baltimore Sun, February 9, 1996.
  15. 15.0 15.1 15.2 Template:Harvnb
  16. Leone, Katherine C. (1997). "No Team, No Peace: Franchise Free Agency in the National Football League". Columbia Law Review 97 (2): 473–523. Template:Citation/identifier. 
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Further reading

The National Football League (2018)
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