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The original Cleveland Browns were a professional American football team who played in both the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and the National Football League (NFL) between 1946 and 1995. In the 1996 NFL season, the franchise was moved to Baltimore, Maryland and became the Baltimore Ravens.
Today the Baltimore Ravens are based in Baltimore, Maryland while the newly-formed Cleveland Browns (who were incorporated in 1996 and resumed play in the NFL in 1999) replaced the original Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Ohio. This later Browns franchise took over the original Browns name, history and archives and are today based in Cleveland, Ohio.
How did the Cleveland Browns Start Up?
The Cleveland Browns’ history goes as far back as 1944 when taxi magnate Arthur Mickey McBride secured a space in the newly-created AAFC to build a football franchise in Cleveland, Ohio. A man who has variously been called the “father of modern American football” (including by legend coach Bill Walsh), Paul Brown, was the new franchise’s first head coach.
Cleveland Browns in Competition:
The Cleveland Browns began play in 1946, with their original base being at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium. From the initial years, the Browns were an instant hit at football success. They went on to win all the four AAFC championship games prior to the dissolution of the league in 1949.
After the AAFC league was dissolved, the Browns then became members of the more established NFL, where they continued their dominance. Their legendary coach and namesake of the Browns — who is a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame and widely considered one of the greatest football coaches of all time — won another three NFL championships with the team before he was fired.
Cleveland Browns Notable Moments:
The Cleveland Browns won all four of the AAFC championship games before that league was dissolved in 1949 and they moved to the NFL.
Another notable achievement of the Browns is their reaching of all the NFL championship games every year from 1950 to 1955, where they lifted the championship trophy three times.
After a period of mediocrity in the mid-1970s, revival came in 1979 and 1980, with quarterback Brian Sipe engineering a series of last-minute wins that made the Browns to be christened “the Kardiac Kids”, culminating in the winning of the championship in 1964.
Cleveland Browns Notable Players:
Otto Graham was a quarterback who played for the Browns in both the AAFC and the NFL. He is widely regarded as one of the most dominant football players of his time. He greatly contributed to the Browns reaching the league championship games every single year from 1946 to 1955, where they won seven of them.
Jim Brown is best known for an exceptional record-setting nine-year career as a Cleveland Browns running back between 1957 and 1965. Many critics consider him the greatest running back of all time, with Sporting News once naming him the greatest professional football player ever at any position.
Louis Groza played his whole football career for the Browns as both a place-kicker and a offensive tackle. He was the career kicking and points leader in the whole of professional American football at the time of retirement in 1967. In the span of 21 seasons he played for the Cleveland Browns, he helped the franchise win eight league championships.
Another legendary Cleveland Browns player is Gary Collins, who earned his reputation with the team and the whole of American Football as a big-game receiver following his hauling in 3 touch-down passes as the Browns cruised to an NFL Championship victory in 1964. Collins is also remembered for a team record of 70 career-receiving touch-downs as well as the most receiving touch-downs in a single season (13 in 1963).
What Happened to the Cleveland Browns?
During the 1995 NFL season, the owner of the Cleveland Browns, Art Modell, made a decision that the football franchise was to move from their longtime home venue in Cleveland, Ohio to Baltimore, Maryland starting in the 1996 season. This was referred to as Relocation Controversy or sometimes “The Move” by fans.
The Relocation Controversy was followed by several legal actions that resulted in a very unique compromise, setting a precedence in American football and professional sports at large. In this arrangement, Modell retained all the existing player and staff contracts and moved with them to form another whole new franchise in Baltimore, who were later named the Baltimore Ravens. At the same time, the original Cleveland Browns’ name, history as well as archives would remain in Cleveland and a new Cleveland Browns would begin to play in 1999 following a deactivation period of three years.
In 1999, the new Cleveland Browns began play again under their new owner Al Lerner.