As a participant in professional football since 1946, Cleveland Browns history is unique and not without controversy. Cleveland was without a team from 1996 to 1999, due to Art Modell’s move from Cleveland to Baltimore. The Cleveland Browns history began as a member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), but joined up with the NFL when the league disbanded in 1950. The Browns have won eight league championships, including all of the AAFC titles from 1946 to 1950, and four more in the 60s, before the AFL and NFL merged into one league. The 40’s and 60’s were a great time in Cleveland Browns history, although since the merger, the Browns have not played in a championship game, nor have they made it to a Super Bowl.
An interesting aspect of Cleveland Browns history is the process they went through to be named. Paul Brown was their first coach, general manager, and vice president when they were founded as a part of the AAFC. Due to a team naming contest that took place, the team was named after him. Paul was already popular in Ohio within the professional and collegiate sports world, so people felt that it was an appropriate name. However, Brown initially refused the selection and instead decided to go with the name Panthers, until a local businessman told the team that he owned the rights to that name from previous attempt of starting a new team in Cleveland. At this point, Brown felt that he had no other choice than to use the popular vote, naming the team the Cleveland Browns.
Paul Brown had all of the right connections to establish a winning team when his coaching and managing responsibilities began. Successfully building a championship team, in 1948 he obtained the season record for being unbeaten and untied. The team received great support from their inception, considering their average attendance in their first season was 57,000 per game. A notable accomplishment and a surprising part of Cleveland Browns history, considering that just one year prior the Cleveland Rams had been transferred to L.A. as a result of losing money and lack of support from the community. After 1949, along with many other problems that plagued the league, the Browns’ domination of the AAFC partly contributed to its demise. The NFL agreed to take three of the teams from the AAFC, the Browns was their most appealing acquisition.
The Browns took to the NFL quickly, their first year they made an appearance to the NFL playoffs, rising above analyst’s expectations. The next year was good too, as were many years during the 1950s and 60s. In 1961, Art Modell bought the Cleveland Browns from Paul Brown. Eventually, Paul went on to purchase a franchise in Cincinnati, which was the start of the Bengals franchise. The rivalry between Paul Brown and Art Modell was almost instant, and was no secret to anyone involved in professional football. However, despite the controversy, the Browns had continued to do well up until the early 1970’s. Cleveland Browns history took a turn for the worse once the NFL merged with the AFL in 1970, the Browns domination had ended almost as quickly as it had begun.
The Browns struggled between 1971 and 1984, a spiral in their NFL standings. They went through numerous staff members including coaches and players during this time, but nothing seemed to shake the Browns out of their vicious cycle of losing and often giving up close games. However, during the 1980’s, the Browns acquired Bernie Kosar from University of Miami. Slow to start, Kosar learned by experience after taking over for Gary Danielson halfway through the season. The Cleveland Browns ended up winning 4 of the 6 games that Kosar started during his first season. The rest of the 80s and 90s, the Browns didn’t do much of anything noteworthy. They had their ups and downs, but never seemed to be able to win when it counted, leaving them without even one invitation to the Super Bowl in their 50 years of existence. A significant event in Cleveland Browns history occurred in 1996, Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore, but was forced to leave behind the uniforms, name and rights to the team, which basically left him to create a brand new name and franchise for his players in Baltimore.
The new Cleveland Browns have been around since 1999 and have struggled since then. On a positive note, the Browns have some of the NFL’s most dedicated and loyal fans in football. Who hasn’t heard of the “Dog Pound”? In addition, the re-emergence of Carson Palmer might be the ticket to big game they’ve been waiting for.