Cleveland Browns, professional football team and
one of four teams in the North Division of the American
Football Conference (AFC) of the National Football
League (NFL). The original Cleveland Browns franchise
moved to Baltimore, Maryland, and took the name Baltimore
Ravens in 1996, but in 1998 the NFL granted ownership
of a new Browns franchise to a group of investors
headed by businessman Al Lerner and former San Francisco
49ers president Carmen Policy. Using their traditional
team colors of orange, brown, and white, the Browns
rejoined the NFL in 1999. The team plays in Cleveland
The original Browns were one of the NFL’s most
consistent teams, posting just 12 losing records in
46 seasons. Head coach Paul Brown collected three
league championships and seven division titles from
1950 to 1962. One of Cleveland’s first stars,
running back Jim Brown, became one of the most prolific
runners in professional football history, capturing
eight rushing titles during his nine-year career.
Cleveland made the playoffs seven times during the
1980s, including three AFC Championship Game appearances.
These teams featured players such as quarterback Bernie
Kosar and running backs Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack.
The Browns became a charter member of the All-America
Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946, with Paul Brown
as head coach and general manager. Cleveland dominated
the AAFC, losing just four regular-season games while
winning every championship during the league’s
four-year existence. The Browns boasted several future
Hall of Fame members, including quarterback Otto Graham,
tackle-placekicker Lou Groza, end Dante Lavelli, and
halfback Marion Motley.
Cleveland joined the NFL in 1950 and immediately
became one of the league’s best teams. That
year, with Motley leading the league in rushing (810
yards), the team captured the first of six consecutive
division crowns and the NFL title. (The Super Bowl
was not played until 1967.) Directed by Graham, who
led Cleveland’s top-rated offense, the team
also won NFL titles in 1954 and 1955. The Browns fielded
the league’s toughest defense six times from
1951 to 1957; it was anchored by future Hall of Fame
end Len Ford.
After Cleveland’s one-year absence from the
postseason in 1956, rookie sensation Jim Brown carried
the team back into the playoffs in 1957. Brown, a
strong runner with great speed, earned top rookie
honors and the first of his eight rushing titles.
Behind Brown and rookie wide receiver Paul Warfield,
Cleveland won the NFL title in 1964, besting the Baltimore
Colts (now Indianapolis Colts) in a 27-0 victory in
the championship game. The following season Brown
was named player of the year. He retired with a total
of 12,312 career rushing yards.
Running back Leroy Kelly replaced Brown as Cleveland’s
main offensive threat and won rushing championships
in 1967 and 1968. Under head coach Blanton Collier
the Browns won division titles in 1968 and 1969, but
they lost in the championship game both years.
The Browns’ dominance faded in the 1970s. Cleveland’s
playoff appearances in 1971 and 1972 ended in first-round
losses, and the team failed to reach the postseason
from 1973 to 1979. However, in 1980 the Browns won
the AFC Central Division. Cleveland suffered early
playoff losses in 1980 and then again in 1982.
The Browns drafted Bernie Kosar in 1985. He teamed
with Earnest Byner and Kevin Mack to power Cleveland’s
resurgence in the mid-1980s. The Browns made the playoffs
from 1985 through 1989, and Kosar became one of the
NFL’s top-ranked quarterbacks. Cleveland reached
the AFC Championship Game in 1986, 1987, and 1989,
but each time, the Browns lost to the Denver Broncos.
These matchups made the rivalry between the two teams
one of the most celebrated in the NFL.
The Browns suffered five losing seasons in their
final six years in Cleveland. Midway through the 1995
season, team owner Art Modell announced plans to move
the team to Baltimore. Three months after the announcement,
which shocked loyal Browns fans and the city of Cleveland,
the NFL granted Cleveland a team and rights to the
Browns’ name, colors, and memorabilia.
During a special expansion team draft in February
1999, the Browns drafted a number of veteran players,
including center Jim Pyne of the Detroit Lions and
cornerback Antonio Langham of the San Francisco 49ers.
In April of the same year the Browns used their number-one
pick in the NFL amateur draft to select quarterback
Tim Couch of the University of Kentucky. The new Browns
struggled during their first season, finishing with
a win-loss record of 2-14.
The Cleveland Browns have never played in the Super
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