The Cleveland Browns are a sports franchise rich in history and tradition. They were created by owner Arthur McBride in 1946. McBride hired NFL legend Paul Brown
as their first coach
. There is some controversy regarding how they became known as the Browns. According to the Cleveland Browns website, they were indeed named after Paul Brown
. Paul Brown
, perhaps guided by his modesty, claimed that the Browns were named after boxing great Joe Louis
, “The Brown Bomber”.
The Browns star quarterback Otto Graham led the team to 4 AAFC (All American Football Conference) championships. In the 1950’s, when the AAFC merged with NFL, Graham led them to 3 NFL championships.
There are a total of 14 Cleveland Brown’s players who are enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame:
The Browns had some very good teams throughout the 80’s and 90’s, but Art Modell decided money and greed was more important than football tradition and fan loyalty. He moved the team to Baltimore (whose fans had earlier suffered a similar fate when the Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis). Cleveland did not have a professional football team from 1996-1998. Cleveland battled to keep their team’s name and history, and returned in 1999 with their #1 draft pick Tim Couch.
Cleveland built the team a new stadium, named, appropriately enough, Cleveland Browns stadium. The new owner, Al Lerner, detested the corporate sponsorship of football. He didn’t believe that stadiums should be named after internet technology companies or ketchup manufacturers.
The team struggled in their first two years back, winning only a combined 5 games. In 2001, they started to turn things around with the maturation of their young players and their new coach Butch Davis.
In 2002, their owner Al Lerner passed away. He will be remembered as the man who brought professional football back to Cleveland. In 2002 the Browns wear a commemorative patch with his initials. Ownership of the team transferred to Lerner’s son and to Brown’s president Carmen Policy.
After the NFL restructuring in 2002, the Cleveland Browns now play in the AFC North. Their main competitors are the Baltimore Ravens, Cincinnati Bengals, and their biggest rivals, the loathsome Pittsburgh Steelers.