Cleveland Browns Team History
Cleveland Browns were born in 1944 when Cleveland businessman
Arthur B. McBride acquired a franchise in the new All-America
Football Conference that would begin play in 1946. McBride's
first act after acquiring the team was to hire Paul Brown, who
had been a very successful high school, college and service
coach, as coach and general manager.
The teams of the AAFC basically were of comparable quality to
those of the NFL but, in the first 10 years of post-World War
II pro football, the Cleveland Browns proved to be the best
in either league. With such all-time greats as quarterback Otto
Graham, fullback Marion Motley and tackle-kicker Lou Groza leading
the way, Cleveland won all four AAFC championships and amassed
a 52-4-3 winning record. When the AAFC folded after the 1949
season, many insisted a major reason was the Browns' dominance
that eliminated any viable competition.
The AAFC-NFL settlement called for the Browns, San Francisco
49ers and Baltimore Colts to join the NFL. Many NFL diehards,
still not convinced the Browns were for real, expected Cleveland
to fail badly when they played against the established NFL teams.
But the Browns quickly proved their domination was no fluke
by opening the 1950 season with a stunning 35-10 victory over
the defending NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles. Cleveland then
won the NFL Eastern Conference championship for six straight
years from 1950 to 1955 and NFL titles in 1950, 1954 and 1955.
The Browns won another divisional title in 1957, a year that
saw the great running back from Syracuse, Jim Brown, join the
team. In his nine-season career, Jim Brown rushed for 12,312
yards, a lifetime record that stood for more than 20 years.
The Paul Brown era ended after the 1962 season and he was replaced
by a former assistant, Blanton Collier. Collier gave the Browns
their last NFL championship in 1964, when they defeated the
Baltimore Colts, 27-0.
The Browns reached the post-season playoffs 22 times in their
first 40 years in the NFL. In addition to their four NFL championships
between 1950 and 1964, they won 11 NFL Eastern Conference championships,
three NFL Century Division titles and AFC Central Division championships
in 1971, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987 and 1989.
In 1961, Arthur B. Modell purchased the Browns for a then-unheard-of
price of $4 million. From the start, he was recognized as one
of the NFL's more progressive leaders. But Modell stunned the
pro football world in 1995 when he announced that he would transfer
his Cleveland franchise to Baltimore to begin play in 1996.
Determined to keep the team in Cleveland, Browns fans and Cleveland
city officials orchestrated an unprecedented grass-roots campaign
to block the move. The NFL quickly responded and, working with
city officials, developed a unique solution that not only provided
for a new state-of-the-art stadium, but guaranteed the return
of pro football to Cleveland by no later than 1999. Additionally,
Art Modell agreed to relinquish the "Browns" name,
colors and team history to the new owner of the suspended franchise.