THE CLEVELAND BROWNS
National Football League
(1946 - 1995, 1999 - Present)
1903 - An informal association of American football clubs begins play in what is called the Ohio League. Teams include the Akron East Ends, the Massillon Tigers and the Columbus Panhandles, among others.
1916 - The Cleveland Indians football team is established. They join the Ohio League.
August 20, 1920 - Representatives from the Akron Pros, Canton Bulldogs, Cleveland Indians and Dayton Triangles meet in Canton to discuss a more structured league that would "raise the standard of professional football in every way possible." The result is the formation of the American Professional Football Association. The inaugural season of the APFA saw the Indians play under a new name, the Tigers.
1921 - After a 2-4-2 season, the Tigers are renamed the Indians once more.
1922 - The APFA renames itself the National Football League and the Indians cease operations for the season.
1923 - The Indians return to professional football and join the NFL.
1924 - The Indians and the Canton Bulldogs merge to become the Cleveland Bulldogs. The Bulldogs win the NFL Championship that season with a 7-1-1 record. This is the first of many NFL championships for Cleveland, Ohio.
1926 - The American Football League is founded and the Cleveland Panthers play in the inaugural season. The team drops out of the league after five games but operates independently until 1933.
1927 - The Bulldogs are sold and moved to Detroit to become the Wolverines.
1931 - Due to the lack of an owner, the Cleveland Indians (a 3rd iteration) return to the NFL for one season as a league-sponsored team. All games are played on the road.
1936 - The Cleveland Rams begin playing in the AFL.
1937 - The Rams leave the poorly managed AFL to join the NFL where they post eight losing records in as many seasons.
December 16, 1945 - In -8º weather, the Cleveland Rams win the NFL Championship Game 15-14 against the Washington Redskins at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Despite their big win, the team moves to Los Angeles for the following season, becoming the only NFL franchise to win a championship and play the following season in a different city. This franchise would play in L.A. until 1994 when they are moved to St. Louis. In 2016 the team was moved back to L.A.
September 6, 1946 - A new era in Cleveland begins. The Cleveland Browns, a new football franchise named for Ohio football legend and head coach, Paul Brown, play their first game. This is also the first game of the newly formed All-American Football Conference. The AAFC will challenge the NFL for the four years it operates. This rivalry causes rule changes, higher salaries and expansion in the older, stronger league. The inaugural game is the first of many victories for the Browns as they defeat the Miami Seahawks 44-0 in front of the first 60,000 Browns fans.
1946-49 - The Browns absolutely dominate the AAFC for the entirety of its existence, winning all four Championships and posting an overall record of 52-4-3.
1948 - The greatest year in Cleveland sports history is played as three championship teams call the forest city home.
Cleveland Barons - 1948 Calder Cup Champions (April 11, 1948)
Cleveland Indians - 1948 World Series Champions (October 11, 1948)
Cleveland Browns - 1948 AAFC Champions (December 19, 1948)
1950 - The NFL and the AAFC merge to form the National-American Football League (they would drop the "American" and become the NFL just a few months later). Three teams will join the NFL from the AAFC including the San Francisco 49ers, the Baltimore Colts and the powerhouse Cleveland Browns.
December 24, 1950 - Despite NFL fans and players insisting the Browns were only successful due to the "minor league" talent of the AAFC, the Cleveland club plays in the NFL Championship game in their first season as an NFL team. Coincidently, they face the Los Angeles Rams, the same team that left Cleveland just five years prior. With 28 seconds left in the game, 30,000 fans in Cleveland Municipal Stadium witness Browns kicker Lou Groza convert on a field goal to put the Browns up 30-28. A few snaps later, the Cleveland Browns win their first NFL championship. Elated fans storm the field, rip off a player's jersey, bring down the goal posts and start a bonfire in the bleachers.
1951 - In a rematch of the previous year's championship game, the Rams squeeze by Cleveland 24-17 to win the title.
1952-53 - The Browns reach a championship game for the 7th and 8th consecutive seasons, losing to the Detroit Lions in both.
1954 - The Browns defeat Detroit, 56-10, for their 2nd NFL Championship.
1955 - In their 10th consecutive championship game appearance, the Browns defeat the Rams for their 3rd NFL Championship and their 7th professional championship in 10 years.
1956 - In their first losing season in franchise history, the Browns place a radio transmitter inside the quarterback's helmet to call plays during a game. This technique is now used by every NFL team.
1957 - The Browns take fullback Jim Brown from Syracuse University with their first pick (6th overall) of the 1957 draft. Brown has a break-out rookie season and leads Cleveland back to the NFL championship game. Though the Browns lose the final match, once again to Detroit, Brown finishes the season as the league's leading rusher.
1962 - After four seasons without a playoff berth, new owner Art Modell fires head coach Paul Brown (the team's namesake) and replaces him with assistant coach Blanton Collier.
December 27, 1964 - The Cleveland Browns defeat the Baltimore Colts 27-0 and become NFL champions for the 4th time (AAFC/NFL champs for the 8th time).
December 27, 1964 marks the end of the Cleveland sports glory days and the beginning of the "curse." For the next half-century, none of the major sports teams in Cleveland will end a season as champions.
1965 - The Browns return to the championship game but lose to the Green Bay Packers 23-12. This would be the last championship game appearance for the team.
July 14, 1965 - Much to the dismay of Browns fans, the championship loss to the Packers is the last for superstar Jim Brown. The greatest player to ever wear a Browns uniform and widely considered at the time to be the greatest professional athlete in the history of the world, retires after only nine seasons at the age of 29.
1966 - The NFL begins calling its championship game The Super Bowl. The Green Bay Packers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs, 35-10, to win Super Bowl I.
1974 - The Browns finish 4-10 in only their 2nd losing season of the 28-year-old franchise.
1980 - "The Kardiac Kids," as the 80's Browns were known, make the playoffs for the first time in eight years. The nickname is born out of the team's tendency to win games in the final moments.
January 4, 1981 - "RED RIGHT 88" - For the first Browns playoff game since 1972, the Oakland Raiders come to town and find themselves up 14-12 with less than a minute remaining. The Browns could kick a short field goal from the Raiders' 13-yard line to move on to the next round, but due to a few missed attempts early in the game, head coach Sam Rutigliano calls a passing play, "Red Slot Right, Halfback Stay, 88." QB Brian Sipe attempts the pass to Ozzy Newsome in the end-zone but is picked off by Raiders safety Mike Davis, thus ending Cleveland's "dream season."
January 11, 1987 - "THE DRIVE" - In the AFC Championship Game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Denver Broncos QB John Elway finds the wind in his face on his own 2-yard line with 5:11 to play. The game is all but over when Elway leads Denver through a 15-play, 98-yard drive in 5 minutes and 2 seconds. What is now considered Elway's greatest clutch moment and one of the greatest moments in football history, sends the game into OT where the Broncos win on a field goal.
January 17, 1988 - "THE FUMBLE" - Just one year after "The Drive," the Browns and Broncos find themselves in a similar situation, the AFC Championship Game, only this time it's played in Denver. With the Broncos leading 38-31 with 1:12 to go, the Browns snap the ball from the Denver 8-yard line. Thinking back to "Red Right 88," the Browns opt to run the ball. Running back Earnest Byner takes the hand off and has the open lane to the end-zone to tie the game. But just as Browns fans are smelling another playoff overtime, the ball is stripped and recovered by Denver's Jeremiah Castille on the 2-yard line, once again ending Cleveland's Super Bowl hopes.
November 6, 1995 - "THE MOVE" - After three decades of losing seasons, short playoff runs and last minute disappointments, ever-loyal Browns fans wake to the only thing worse than a bad team: not having one at all. Owner Art Modell causes wide spread panic across all of Northeast Ohio by signing a deal to relocate the Browns to Baltimore. Fans file lawsuits, the city of Cleveland files one as well, congress gets involved and even Steelers fans hold a protest to keep the rivalry alive. Following the announcement, the team goes 1-8 in their final stretch as the Browns.
December 17, 1995 - The Browns play their final home game before moving to Baltimore. The 26-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals is underscored by fans pulling the stadium apart, setting fires and assaulting police officers.
December 24, 1995 - For the first time in 60 years, the city of Cleveland is without a professional football team. A 24-21 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars ends their last season before the move. Thankfully, through an agreement between the city of Cleveland, the NFL and Art Modell, the city will be awarded a franchise once a new stadium is built and will retain the Browns name, colors, history, stats, records, alumni, etc. Modell in turn will receive a brand new franchise, despite the team and organization remaining intact in Baltimore.
September 12, 1999 - The Cleveland Browns play their first game in the NFL after being "deactivated" for three seasons. The rival Steelers crash the homecoming party and beat the Browns 43-0. Cleveland would finish the season with a franchise worst 2-14 record.
December 19, 1999 - During a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, referee Jeff Triplette throws a penalty flag that sails directly into the eye of Browns tackle Orlando Brown. Triplette apologizes for the accident but Brown shoves him, causing him to fall. Brown is ejected from the game and suspended by the NFL. Brown's eye would not heal from the accident and he would sue the NFL for damages. Brown would not play another game for the Cleveland Browns.
January 28, 2001 - The original Browns franchise, now the Baltimore Ravens, wins Super Bowl XXXV. Browns fans bitterly watch Art Modell hoist the Lombardi Trophy.
December 16, 2001 - "BOTTLEGATE" - With a playoff spot on the line and Jacksonville leading 15-10, Browns QB Tim Couch attempts a pass from the Jaguars' 12-yard line to wide receiver Quincy Morgan. The 4th-and-1 pass is ruled complete, giving the Browns a 1st-and-goal with under a minute to play. As the clock runs, Couch spikes the ball and prepares for the three attempts he will have to win the game. Immediately after, referee Terry McAulay announces to the fans in Cleveland Browns Stadium that there will be a review of Morgan's catch. The booing begins. (While it is debatable whether Morgan did in fact catch the ball, what angered the fans was not the possibility of it being overturned but that reviewing the play was not a possibility at all. Couch spiked the ball after Morgan's catch and under NFL rules, once another play is run, you cannot go back to review a previous play). Despite protests from fans, players and head coach Butch Davis, McAulay reviews the play and overturns it. It is now Jacksonville's ball with 48 seconds remaining. With the game and season essentially over, fans begin throwing bottles onto the field. So much so that the game is paused as stadium officials clear the debris. Browns fans become increasingly more violent as players, fans and officials are injured by falling objects. With the situation growing more dangerous by the minute and with 48 seconds still on the clock, McAulay announces to the stadium, "That's the end of the game." The building erupts. As the refs attempt to leave the field, hands over the tops of their heads, the fans, who's season had been ripped away from them yet again, pummel them with objects. After a majority of the stadium clears out, 11 players from each team return to the field so Jacksonville can finish out the remaining time. As it turns out, McAulay did not have the authority to call a game.
September 8, 2002 - Browns linebacker Dwayne Rudd takes his helmet off and tosses it into the air thinking he had won the game by sacking Kansas City QB Trent Green as time expired. Green actually lateraled the ball to lineman John Tait before the tackle and Tait was then run out of bounds. This would have been the end of the game regardless but Rudd was assessed an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for removing his helmet. Kansas City was then moved half the distance to the goal and allowed to run one more play which they used to kick a field goal and win the game.
January 5, 2003 - The Browns make the playoffs for the first and only time since returning to the NFL. They lose to the Steelers in the first round 36-33 after being outscored 22-9 in the 4th quarter.
July 27, 2006 - LeCharles Bentley, the top free agent of the off-season who had just made a dream come true by signing with his home-town team, suffers a season ending injury on the first play of the first day of Browns training camp. He would not play a single down for the team.
2007 - The Browns finish in 2nd place in the AFC North with a record of 10-6 making it the most successful season since the team returned to the NFL. However, due to tie breakers with the Steelers and the Tennessee Titans, the Browns still do not make the playoffs.
2010 - The Browns manage a 3rd place finish in the AFC North, marking only the 4th time since their return that the team does not finish in last place. The Browns follow up this performance by finishing last in every season since.
September 6, 2012 - Art Modell passes away from natural causes. Many Browns fans, still bitter about "The Move," celebrate his death saying it marked the end of the Cleveland sports "curse." It did not.
May 8, 2014 - With the 22nd pick in the 2014 NFL draft, the Browns select Heisman trophy winner Johnny "Football" Manziel, one of the most highly anticipated quarterbacks of the decade.
2014 - In the most exciting season in recent Browns history, starting QB and Cleveland native Brian Hoyer helps bring the team record up to 6-3 with a win against division rival Cincinnati. The ongoing quarterback competition between the cocky excitement of Johnny "Football" and the experience of Brian Hoyer seems to be in the hands Hoyer. Despite this success, the Browns go on to lose 6 of their last 7 games and finish the season 7-9. After an injury to Hoyer and two awful starts by Manziel, the most hyped quarterback competition of the NFL season ends with 3rd string QB Connor Shaw starting the final game. Shaw manages just 10 points in a loss to Art Modell's Ravens. Hoyer would leave the team in the off-season.
February 4, 2015 - Johnny Manziel, a first round pick of the draft and one of the few sources of hope for Browns fans, follows up his disappointing rookie season by checking himself into a rehabilitation center to deal with his alcohol addiction. He is released from the center a few months later and insists that he not be called Johnny "Football" ever again.
November 30, 2015 - With 3 seconds to go in a tight game against the rival Baltimore Ravens, Browns kicker Travis coons lines up to kick a game winning 51-yard field goal. With a packed First Energy Stadium watching, the kick is blocked and returned for a touchdown to win the game with no time remaining. Smart phone videos of the event go viral as Browns fans document their own sorrowful journey through the "kick-six."
January 3, 2016 - At the end of another disappointing Browns season and a less than perfect 2nd year from Johnny Manziel, the Browns lose to the Steelers in week 17 to finish 3-13. Though this season is the worst in years, the Browns remain the top story on ESPN, for the wrong reasons. A few days prior, the Browns announced Manziel would not be starting in the final game of the season due to a concussion he sustained in week 16. Then, on game day, it is reported that Manziel did not show up for the game or his concussion protocol. Instead, he spent the eve of the game partying in Las Vegas. He was seen wearing a wig and sunglasses saying his name was "Billy." It is later rumored that Manziel did not have a concussion at all but in fact showed up drunk to practice that week and the Browns, trying to salvage whatever dignity they and Manziel had left, covered for him. This incident more or less ends Johnny's career in Cleveland and possibly his career in the NFL.
December 24, 2016 - Following a missed last-second field goal attempt, the Browns defeat the San Diego Chargers 20-17 for their first and only win of the season. The Browns would lose the following week to the Steelers to finish the year 1-15, the worst record in Cleveland football history. Only the 2008 Detroit Lions hold a worse regular season record (0-16).
September 9, 2007 - October 22, 2017 - Cleveland Browns left tackle, Joe Thomas, participates in 10,363 consecutive snaps. A season ending tricept injury caps off this likely unbreakable record. Over the course of this historic 167 game steak, Thomas is selected to the Pro Bowl for all 10 seasons despite the Browns only managing a 48-119 record and no playoff appearances.
1999-2016 - In the 17 seasons since their return to the NFL, the Browns have been represented by twenty-four starting quarterbacks, seven head coaches, seven general managers, three owners and an overall record of 87-185. However, due to the immense success the team experienced prior to the "curse," their overall record 51 seasons later remains 524-475-13, a winning record.
AAFC/NFL Seasons: 67
Championship Game Appearances: 13
Current Drought: 51 years
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