The Entire History of the Cleveland Fucking Browns

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In today’s exciting and epic article, we will discuss (in entirety) the history of the Cleveland fucking Browns.  As an adult in my thirties, it’s hard to ever imagine this team being any good, as all of my life they have always ranged somwhere between middle-of-the-road and just plain awful.  But at one point, they were great.

Come with me, as we take a stroll through the annals of Cleveland Browns history.

1944-1949: Creation And The AAFC Years

Paul Brown with some of his players

The Cleveland Browns were created in 1944 in the fires of Mordor from ground up elves and unicorns, and were part of the All American Football Conference (AAFC), helmed by former Ohio State University coach Paul Brown.  Brown was a true visionary, inventing such things as the draw play, the passer’s pocket, and I heard some where he was also credited for Nutella.  The team would be totally legit in the AAFC, with a record of 47–4–3, winning the championship every year that they competed.  That is correct, the Browns actually won fucking championships.  The AAFC eventually folded, and the team would later join the NFL, along with several other AAFC teams.

1950-1956: Welcome To The NFL

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People starting talking shit right away about the Browns, saying they were big fish in a small pond, and that they wouldn’t be able to hack it in the NFL.  Their first official game would be a huge test, as they would face the two-time defending NFL champion Eagles week one, and the Browns racked up an amazing 487 yards of total offense, clobbering the Eagles in a score of 35-10.  These were the good old days for the boys, with the team touting legends such as quarterback Otto Graham, quarterback/kicker Lou Groza, and running back Dub Jones.  They would go 10-2 in their first season, and reach the Rams in the championship game that very first year.  The game itself was a nail-biter, and it came down to a last-minute Lou Groza kick which was successful, and the Browns toppled the Rams 30-28.  As you can guess, the fans went ape-shit, tearing down the goal post and setting fire to the bleachers, because people from Cleveland are fucking nuts and this is why we cannot have nice things.

The next few years, the boys would reach the championship, but on both occasions they would lose to the Detroit Lions.  In 1954 they once again met the Lions in the championship game, and with ever the chip on their shoulder, they smashed Detroit to pieces with a score of 56-10.  1955 would be the last year of an era, as this would be the final season the Browns would be lead by quarterback Otto Graham, and under his leadership the team would reach the championship game once again, and they overtook the Rams by a score of 38-14.  In 1956 with Otto Graham absent and many of the other starters retired, the team put together a pretty unremarkable season of 5-7.  Although they wouldn’t have another losing season until 1974, this would be foreshadowing of a grim future to come.

1957-1970: Art Model Ruins A Good Thing, Jim Brown Runs for Records, And One Last Championship

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The next several years would be a very tumultuous time for the Browns, and for America.  The team was a mess as all of the championship caliber players were injured or retired, and Cleveland’s first round pick for a QB replacement would later be cut from the team, as he couldn’t overcome a stutter, and was unable to call out plays in the huddle (I’m not making this shit up).  Yeah, it was pretty fucking dire and almost as sad as in 2012 when they drafted those busts Trent Richardson and Brandon Weeden in the first round.  But in 1957 Cleveland would rebound after drafting fullback Jim Brown, who when he wasn’t throwing his wife and/or girlfriends through plate-glass windows, was quickly becoming the new face of the franchise, leading all rushers in his first year in yards, and winning the rooking of the year honor.  The Browns went 9-2 that season and would reach the championship yet again, however they would hand Detroit the last championship the Lions would celebrate in the NFL because if god hates any city more than Cleveland, it has to be Detroit.  In 1958, the Browns would fail to reach the championship game, and again in 1959 and 1960, the team had success in the regular season but would fall short of the big prize.

In 1961, it would be the beginning of the end of the glory era for the Cleveland Browns.  Art Modell, a fast-talking salesman and bridge troll, would buy the team this year, and his battles with coach Paul Brown would be legendary.  The two would constantly butt heads, and in 1962 after a record of 7-6-1, Modell would go on to fire Brown, essentially starting the rotating door of coaches that would continue to this day.  The highlight of the 1962 season was the epic 1,863 rushing yards of Jim Brown, but the team would not win the division title and were held out of the championship game.

1963 would change America forever.  On November 22, 1963, President Kennedy was shot and killed in Dallas, Texas.  The AFL would shut down over the weekend in remembrance, however the NFL decided that money was more important and the games would go on, and that weekend offered a match-up of the Dallas Cowboys VS the Cleveland Browns at Municipal Stadium.  The Browns would defeat Tom Landry and the Cowboys 27-17.  Once again the Browns had a decent regular season, but would fall short.  In 1964, the Browns would have an amazing season of 10-3-1, reaching the championship for the first time in seven seasons, meeting up with the Baltimore Colts.  The Colts were heavily favored, but the Browns would go on to win 27-0, delivering the city of Cleveland the last championship for any professional sports team.  But hey, look on the bright side, we do have LeBron back.

In 1965 the Browns would again reach the championship game, but would go on to lose to Vince Lombardi and the Green Bay Packers, and shit would never be the same.  This was the final year that Jim Brown would play as he retired to pursue his (cough) acting career, and the following year the championship game would officially become known as “The Super Bowl”.  1966-1969 would each be winning seasons by all measures but largely forgettable, as the team would fail each year to make an appearance in the Super Bowl.  In 1970, the Browns would be slightly edged out of the Playoffs after joining the new AFC, by none other than Paul Brown and his new team the Cincinnati Bengals.  Ex-Browns coach Paul Brown would go on to create the new “West Coast Offense”, while the Browns would struggle to find an identity over the next few decades years.

1970-1984: The Kardiac Kids

The early 1970’s really didn’t offer too much worth mentioning.  The head coaching changed quickly, and although the team maintained winning seasons, they would always inevitably fall short in the post-season.  1974 would be the first losing season the Browns would experience since 1956, going a pitiful 4-10.  1975 was even worse, with the team starting out 0-9, winning their first game of the season late in November, and going 3-11.  Heads would roll, but in the next season Brian Sipe would step up and lead the team to a comeback season of 9-5.  But 1977 once again led to a losing season, and the the boys in brown went 6-8.

In 1978 the Browns organization would name Sam Rutigliano head coach, and under his tutelage and behind the arm of Sipe, they Browns would rally to an 8-8 record, breaking even but not making the playoffs.  They were able to slightly improve to a 9-7 record in 1979, and in 1980 the team was able to string together one of the best regular seasons the organization had ever experienced in over a decade.  After going 3-3 in the first 6 games, the Browns were able to finish with a record of 11-6, and Brian Sipe had a career year passing for 4,000 yards and 30 touchdowns with only 14 picks.  Sipe was named the regular season MVP, the last time a Browns player would ever earn this honor (or be in the conversation for this honor, or even hear the word MVP).  Most of the regular season wins came down to plays in the very last seconds, prompting the fans to hail the team “the Kardiac Kids” that and because people in Cleveland always eat like shit and most of the players were only ever one pierogi away from a heart attack.  The team faced the Raiders in the AFC championship game, and would go on to lose after Sipe threw a pick in the final moments of the game, falling one game short of the Super Bowl.

In 1981 all of the success went straight down the toilet pierogies and all.  Brian Sipe had a bad season throwing only 17 touchdowns while being intercepted 25 times, and the team went 5-11.  Tight End Ozzie Newsome had an impressive 1,004 yards receiving, but this is really the only thing worth mentioning.  I also met Newsome once when I was 12, but I had no idea who he was, and honestly mistook him for Ozzie Guillen, but I did get his autograph which is pretty cool.  In 1982 the NFL had a player strike on their hands, and with the resulting shortened 9 game season, the team finished with a stagnant record of 4-5.  Then in 1983, the Browns managed to find a little bit of that old magic going 9–7, but finished the season one game back from the rival Steelers, and did not even make the playoffs.  1984 would be the end of the Kardiac kids, as Sipe would leave the team to play for the upstart USFL where he would basically disappear into obscurity and the team would go 5-11.  The Cleveland Browns needed a savior, and one came in the form of the supplemental draft.  And no, I’m not talking about Josh Gordon, this guy stayed out of trouble.

1985-1990: The Kosar Years, The Drive, And The Fumble

Cleveland Browns v Tampa Bay Buccaneers

The 1985 season started off without much hopes of improvement from the previous 5-11 record, until the team reigns were handed over to the back-up quarterback Bernie Kosar, who was selected in the previous year’s supplemental draft.  Behind the total badassery of Kosar, the team would finish 8-8, giving a lot of promise for the years to come, and Kosar would not fail to deliver.  1986 would be the breakout year for the team, with Bernie Kosar leading the team to a 12-4 record with his heroics, a staunch defense starring such legends as Chip Banks, Hanford Dixon, Bob Golic, Clay Matthews, and Frank Minnifield, as well as one of the best ever running back tandems ever of Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack.  The Browns easily secured home field advantage for the AFC Championship Game, where they would meet the dream-crushing John Elway and the Denver Broncos for a battle of wills.  Down a touchdown with 5:02 minutes remaining, John Elway would lead his team on “The Drive”, going 98 yards to force overtime, in which the Broncos would eventually win by a field goal.  Cleveland was stunned that this cinderella story was over.

The 1987 Browns would also be dominant in the regular season, earning a 10-5 record, and producing a record 8 pro-bowlers.  The team easily swept through the Indianapolis Colts with a 38-21 win, leading to a repeat showdown with the Denver Broncos.  Down 21 to 3 at the half, Kosar rallied the team to a 31-31 comeback, but the Broncos would again score going up by one touchdown with about 5 minutes left in the game.  This time is was Kosar’s turn to manufacture a game tying drive.  Leading the team all the way to the 8-yard-line with about 1:12 to go, Kosar handed off to Byner, who was just about to enter the end-zone before being stripped of the ball, turning over possession and ending the drive, handing the Broncos the win yet again.

In 1988 the Browns won a respectable 10-6 but again fell short in the playoffs, this time to the Houston Oilers.  Perhaps the most memorable game of the 1989 season was the utter beat-down given to the Pittsburgh Steelers, in which the Browns would go on to a huge 51-0 rout to start the season.  That is correct, at one point the Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers by 51 points.  They cruised to a 9-6 record, and upset the dominant Jim Kelly and the Buffalo Bills in the playoffs, leading to one last showdown with the Denver Broncos in the AFC Championship Game.  Denver easily won this time though with a score of 37-21.  In 1990 the team was slowly slipping towards obscurity (because I was now 8-years-old and at a point in my life where I could actually follow what was going on with the team).  Kosar was slowly coming apart after a lifetime of injuries, throwing more interceptions than touchdowns this season, and the running game completely disintegrated.  The team finished with a dismal 3-13 record.  Head coaching duties once again changed, and the team was in serious fucking doubt.

1991-1998: Bill Belichick Comes To Town, Art Modell Sells Out The City, Cleveland Has No Team

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Under new head coach Bill Belichick, Cleveland found slight improvement, finishing the year 6-10.  The next year Kosar was hurt most of the season, but the Browns still narrowly improved to 7-9.  It was apparent that the Bernie of old perhaps was gone, and Belichick made the controversial decision of cutting Kosar from the team, and started Vinny Testaverde in his place.  Kosar was signed later that season by the Dallas Cowboys to fill in for an injured Troy Aikman, and would go on to win a ring in a back-up capacity with the team later that year.  The Browns again finished 7-9, proving mediocre at best and not getting so much as a whiff of playoffs.

1994 brought promise back to the fans, as they watched the Belichick led Browns and Testaverde lead the team to an impressive 11-5 season, and that year the defense led the league for fewest yards allowed per attempt.  The Browns found their way into the Playoffs after a five-year drought, upsetting Drew Bledsoe and Patriots 20-13.  They would meet the Steelers for the AFC Championship game, and Pittsburgh was still sort of pissy from the 51-0 beatdown, and they unfortunately toppled the Browns 29-9.

This is the moment in time where everything changed.  Modell announced on November 6, 1995 that he had made arrangements to move the team to Baltimore in 1996.  The fans and city called for blood, completely devastated by this decision.  Even local celebrity Drew Carey returned to town, holding a “Fan Jam” to protest this move because that was totally going to work, Drew.  However the damage was done, and Art Moddell had made up his mind.  Upon hearing the news of the move, the team would go 5-11.  On the heels of the last home game, the fans at the stadium tore out the bleachers, ripped sinks out of the walls in the restrooms, and just generally set shit on fire and again this is why we cannot have nice things.

The next three years, the city would rally behind the Cleveland fucking Indians, in absence of the Browns.  They would also have their run at greatness, and would fall short several times in the big moment, but we’ll leave that story for another article.

1999-2011: The Return Of The Living Dead

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The future was bright for the Cleveland Browns in 1999, as they had a new team, and a new owner in Al Lerner, a man with deep pockets and love for the team and the city and even worse a dip-shit son.  The team was rebuilt through both a special expansion draft and the regular NFL draft, delivering a number one selection, in the form of quarterback Tim Couch.  We all mostly consider Couch a bust, but in all fairness, the team had many struggles under new head coach Chris Palmer, and the team never really had a good offensive line in place, among many other problems.  To kick things off that season, the Browns would host a home-opener on the new Monday Night Football program, but the game itself would basically be a microcosm of things to come: the Pittsburgh Steelers would go on to rout them with a score of 43-0.  The Browns would lose the first nine games of the season in pitiful fashion, ending with the worst season ever of 2-14.  At that point I was four years away from the legal drinking age, but trust me, I marked my calendar.

The 2000 season wasn’t much better, as the team delivered a 3-13 record.  Adversely the Ravens won the Super Bowl that year behind the efforts of the murder Ray Lewis, so this only added salt to the wounds of Cleveland fans.  Head coach Palmer was fired, and Butch Davis was brought in to right the ship.  The team became more competitive in 2001 with a 7-9 record, and progressed even more in 2002 with a 9-7 record, making their first appearance in the playoffs since 1994.  They would face the Pittsburgh Steelers yet again, and with a lead in the fourth quarter, would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory go on to lose, with a final score of 36-33.  The Cleveland Browns also faced the death of owner Al Lerner, and the team was handed over to the control of his dumb as fuck son Randy.

The 2003-2006 seasons provided a lot of the same bullshit that we are now accustomed to heartache as the team went 5-11, 4-12, 6-10, and 4-12.  Head coaches came and went, the Browns hired new general managers, but nothing seemed to work.  Randy Lerner didn’t quite share the passion of the team as his deceased father once had and any changes made to the team were accustomed to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic.

2007 however treated the fans to some pure fools gold excitement, as the team went a remarkable 10-6.  The team failed to make the playoffs due to a tie-breaker, but a statement had been made.  Quarterback Derek Anderson started in the Pro-Bowl, head coach Romeo Crennel signed a two-year extension, and the sky was the limit.  2008 brought high expectations, and a majority of analysts predicted that Cleveland would easily win the division.  In typical Cleveland fashion, the Browns would go on to shock the world yet again, going 4-12 and crushing any dreams of sustained success.  Crennel was fired, and the organization hired Eric Mangini to take the coaching helm.

2009 brought much of the same, a quarterback competition between Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn (in which Quinn won, then lost after going 0-3, then won back after Anderson went 1-4), and a fuck ton of missed opportunities.  All seemed lost, until somehow the Browns miraculously rallied at the end of the season, winning their last four games consecutively, the centerpiece being the final game of the season against their bitter rival the Steelers, whom had dominated the Browns in the previous twelve meetings.  This essentially saved Mangini his job for one more season, and once again the city had hopes for a brighter future.  Also this year, Randy Lerner decided to name Mike Holmgren (formerly of the Green Bay Packers and Seattle Seahawks) the new team president, turning all decision-making of the team over to Holmgren because Lerner had no fucking clue nor care of what he was doing.

The 2010 season brought a lot of changes to the core of the team.  Holmgren acted immediately by releasing both quarterbacks Derek Anderson and Brady Quinn, acquiring Peyton Hillis in return.  He also signed veterans Jake Delhomme (who had success in Carolina) and Seneca Wallace (whom had played for Holmgren in Seattle) at quarterback, and later in the draft acquired Colt McCoy in the third round, giving the team a whole new look.  Starting off strongly in the first three games and leading going into the fourth quarter, the Browns would lose each of these games, going 0-3 because Cleveland needs to learn how to finish fucking games.  The only games worth mentioning of this season was the shocking upset win over the previous Super Bowl champions Saints, and then again beating the overall better team of the New England Patriots in their following game.  But that aside, the season was mostly the Joshua Cribbs and Phil Dawson show (a punt returner and a kicker), and not a whole lot really stood out other then these two guy’s heroics.  Peyton Hillis also rushed for 1,100 yards which isn’t really that spectacular, but we here in Cleveland get excited about just about anything these days.  Mangini was fired, and Holmgren hired Pat Shurmur.  Cleveland fans would quickly come to learn the meaning of the word “mediocrity”.

2011 under the helm of first-time head coach Pat Shurmur, the Browns would display a comedy of errors each week on the field that would result in a 4-12 season.  The fact that we even beat four teams that year almost amazes me.  2012 wouldn’t be much different, but another big change was coming for the organization, in the way of a southern businessman and gas station tycoon named Jimmy Haslam.

2012-Now: The Haslam Era, Moving Forward

1390692283000-AP-Browns-Pettine-FootballTaking over as acting owner of the team, Jimmy Haslam named Joe Banner as the team’s new CEO, and Mike Holmgren took the money and run stepped down as team president.  2012 however was just more of the same, as the Browns opened to a record of 0-5, and counting the losses from the previous year, they extending to an eleven-game losing streak.  Fans in Cleveland could barely remember what a win was or even looked like, and almost all hopes were lost.  The team was betting on the arm of Brandon Weeden to come to the rescue, as well as behind the legs of rookie running back Trent Richardson, whom both were taken that year in the draft, along with supplemental player Josh Gordon.  Weeden and Richardson would both prove to be massive busts, and the team would once again post a losing record, this time going 5-12.  Shurmur was fired, and the head coaching search was on in Cleveland.  Haslam promised the fans that it wasn’t business as usual, and that things would change for the better but things didn’t change, and it was business as usual.

After an exhaustive head coach search including the likes of Ken Wisenhunt and Chip Kelly, the Browns basically scared anyone credible away decided on a virtual unknown named Rob “Chud” Chudzinski to become the franchise’s seventeenth head coach.  Optimism was high, after local favorite and journeyman Brian Hoyer took over at quarterback for the injured Brandon Weeden, and the team began to taste success, along with a pro-bowl season from supplemental draft pick Josh Gordon.  However the good times didn’t last, as Hoyer was also injured after going undefeated for the season, and Brandon Weeden returned to deliver more losses and sadness to Cleveland.  All again seemed lost, and ultimately in 2013 the team would deliver a 4-12 record, losing each of their last seven games in a row.  Coach Chud was shown the door after his first and only season as head coach, and yet again the coaching search began.  Banner was also phased out as CEO, and Ray Farmer was named new team General Manager.  Eventually after a long as fuck time of not knowing what was going on the Browns named Mike Pettine the new head coach for the 2014 season, surprising everyone as Pettine had been on nobody’s radar.

The off-season leading up to 2014 would be quite active, as the team hoped to build off it’s success of the above-average defense of the previous year, and to try to rebuild holes in the below-average offense.  Key free agents were signed in the form of local Ohio State University alum Donte Whitner, along with Karlos Dansby for the defensive unit.  The Browns also took a gamble and drafted Texas A&M star Johnny Manziel, aka Johnny Football aka Johnny Hand-off in the 2014 draft, along with running back Terrance West, among many others.  Riding high on the off-season acquisitions and draft selections, reality struck as it always does when news broke that the pro-bowl caliber wide receiver Josh Gordon would be suspended for the season, for being stupid and not learning his fucking lesson or caring about the team or anybody other than himself repeatedly breaking the substance laws set in place by the NFL.  Moving forward in the draft, Cleveland stuck to their guns, not caring to address the whole at wide receiver that faced the team, leaning on the free agent signings of Andrew Hawkins and Miles Austin.

Currently going into the fourth-week bye of the 2014 season, the Cleveland Browns are now 1-2, after a dramatic comeback (but ultimate loss) with the Steelers in week one, a thrilling victory over Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints in week two, and a devastating loss (after leading in the fourth quarter) to the Baltimore Ravens because Cleveland really needs to fucking learn how to finish games.  Moving forward only time will tell what will become of this season, but so for the offense has looked good with Hoyer back under center, and with major ground contributions from the rookies Terrance West and Isaiah “The Crow” Crowell.  Honestly, I just want to get back to .500 at this point, is that so fucking much to ask?  Let’s win some fucking games please.

 

Did you enjoy this article?  Agree or disagree?  Who is your all-time favorite Brown, and which current or former player would you want to have your back in a street brawl?  Tell me in the comments!

 

 

 

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