The Cleveland Browns are a professional football team in the National Football League. Located in the AFC North, they began in 1946 as a member of the All-American Football Conference. Despite the extensive history of the team, the Browns are one of six current NFL franchises to have never appeared in a Super Bowl. Home games are played in Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Cleveland Browns Beginnings
The Browns were founded in 1946 by Mickey McBride. Soon after, Ohio State Buckeyes coach Paul Brown was named head coach and general manager.
A contest was held to determine the name of the team, and the name �Panthers� received the most votes. Paul Brown didn�t like the name, so another contest was held. This time, �Brown Bombers� was a popular choice, as this was the nickname of reigning heavyweight champ Joe Louis. The name was kept and shortened to �Browns.�
With extensive ties in the Navy and the Ohio Buckeyes program, Brown set up an impressive recruitment network. He brought in players such as quarterback Otto Graham, kicker/tackle Lou Groza, fullback Marion Motley, guard Bill Willis and receiver Mac Speedie. Motley and Willis became the first African-American players to participate in a pro game in 13 years.
The All-American Football Conference was dominated by the Browns, and they won all four title games during the league�s history. During their four-year domination, the team only lost four games. Many experts point to this lack of competition as part of the reason why the AAFC eventually went out of business.
NFL/AFL Era 1950 – 1969
The Browns continued their dominance when they moved to the NFL. In the 20 seasons before the merger with the AFL, the Browns went to the playoffs 13 times. They were greatly helped by the presence of runner Jim Brown, considered by many to be the greatest back in NFL history.
The Kardiac Kids and the 70′s
Their fortunes waned in the 70s, as the team only made two playoff appearances. 1979 saw the team involved in a number of close games, a trend which would later earn them the moniker of the �Kardiac Kids.� Brian Sipe was the leader of many Kardiac Kids comebacks.
The Browns re-emerged in the 80s, supported by play from the likes of Kevin Mack, Bernie Kosar, Earnest Byner, Clay Matthews, Webster Slaughter, Brian Sipe, Chip Banks and Michael Dean Perry. During this decade, this went to the post-season seven times. They played in the conference championship three times, but they were beaten all three times by the Denver Broncos.
The Ending (and Beginning) of the Franchise
The NFL Cleveland Browns only made one playoff appearance in the 90s, and the franchise didn�t even exist for three years. Owner Art Modell was in debt and unsatisfied with the Browns� stadium, so he packed up the assets of the team, loaded everything in Mayflower moving trucks, and transported the organization to Baltimore. The team formerly known as the Browns would now be called the Baltimore Ravens.
But Cleveland Browns football returned in 1999, as the city was given another franchise. Like most expansion teams, they played poorly, finishing 2-14 and 3-13 in their first two seasons. They squeaked into the playoffs in 2002, but then posted losing records the following four seasons.
In 2007, the team made remarkable progress behind the leadership of quarterback Derek Anderson. After Charlie Frye was benched – and with rookie QB Brady Quinn waiting his turn – Anderson delivered the boost that the team had been needing. Unfortunately, despite posting their best record since 1994, the team missed the playoffs after a 10-6 finish.
Best Fans in the NFL
According to a 2006 study, the Browns possess the most loyal fans in the NFL. Despite a record of 36-76 over the last seven seasons, Browns� fans have filled 99.8% of the seats at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Browns Backers Worldwide, the most famous fan organization of the team, boasts 79,000 members. International fan clubs stretch all the way from Canada to Israel, and it is the largest fan club in the United States.
The most well-known fans are those who occupy the Dawg Pound. Wearing various dog masks and holding bones, they have become a famous symbol of the NFL and its legion of fans.
Famous fans include: Hank Aaron, Drew Carey, Jerry Lawler and Condoleezza Rice.
Current Stars of the Cleveland Browns
The following players are some of the most popular on the Browns� roster:
Derek Anderson (QB)
Brady Quinn (QB)
Jamal Lewis (RB)
Braylon Edwards (WR)
Kellen Winslow II (TE)
Joe Thomas (T)
Willie McGinest (LB)
Kamerion Wimbley (LB)
Eric Wright (CB)
The following players have had their jerseys retired by the Cleveland Browns: Otto Graham (14), Jim Brown (32), Ernie Davis (45), Don Fleming (46) and Lou Groza (76).
Hall of Fame Players
The following Browns� players have been inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame:
Otto Graham (1965), Paul Brown (1967), Marion Motley (1968), Jim Brown (1971), Lou Groza (1974), Dante Lavelli (1975), Len Ford (1976), Bill Willis (1977), Willie Davis (1981), Doug Atkins (1982), Bobby Mitchell (1983), Paul Warfield (1983), Mike McCormack (1984), Frank Gatski (1985), Len Dawson (1987), Leroy Kelly (1994), Henry Jordan (1995), Tommy McDonald (1998), Ozzie Newsome (1999), Joe DeLamielleure (2003) and Gene Hickerson (2007).