Jan 11, 2013; Berea, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns head coach Rob Chudzinski (center) walks off the stage after his introductory press conference with owner Jimmy Haslam III (right) and chief executive officer Joe Banner at the team

Same Old Browns...Maybe

Jimmy Haslam

As a lifelong Browns fan it is very hard to comprehend the stagnant state of this once proud franchise.

As a child my father’s good friend, who was also the father of my best friend was the general manager of the Browns.  It was the heart of 80′s and the pride that ran through this great city for the Browns was off the charts.  Because of this,  I was able to stand at the 50 yard line with our cub scout troop and be the honorary color guard against the Baltimore Colts in 1983.

On this same day, I had the privilege to have a short toss with Ozzie Newsome and have a little chit-chat with Tom Cousineau.  To say I was on cloud nine was an understatement.  These guys and this team were the epitome of Cleveland, and I was right in the heart of it.  I was so proud and all that mattered back then was the Cleveland Browns..period.

We rode the highs of the late 80′s teams and suffered through the lowest of lows with those teams as well, in the form of “The Drive” and “The Fumble”.

The early 90′s saw future Hall of Fame head coach Bill Belichick take over the franchise and after a few mediocre seasons, led the 1994 Browns to an 11-5 record and the playoffs.  After defeating the New England Patriots in the AFC Wild Card game, the Browns season ended in a lopsided 29-9 blowout to their division rival Pittsburgh Steelers.

Even though it was a disappointing loss to the Steelers, the Browns were back in the playoffs and had started building a team to go further in the playoffs and had their sights set on a Super bowl title.

Unfortunately, Art Modell had different plans, and moved the team to Baltimore in 1995, leaving the city of Cleveland with nothing.  Stolen from the city was the very thing, the glue that kept it all together.  Our Cleveland Browns, and it was heart wrenching and to elaborate more on it would just open old wounds.

The point is, that up until this point the Cleveland Browns were a model franchise.  One of the best franchises in football.  The illustrious Super Bowl title had eluded them up to that point, but they had come close getting there a multiple of times and this storied franchise had a ton of titles pre-Super Bowl era.

But now it was over.

All that history, all the momentum the franchise had built since 1946 was gone.

Now as the story goes, the city got their team back in 1999, but it was the Browns in name and former records only.  Gone was the allure of the original Cleveland Browns.  The momentum they were building on in 1995, was now being carried on by the “Purple Browns”,  known as the Baltimore Ravens.  Ironically enough, anchored by the two first round draft picks that would have been the Cleveland Browns back in 1995, Ray Lewis and Jonathan Ogden, lead the 2000 “Purple Browns” to the Super Bowl title.

Everyone in Cleveland was ecstatic to have their Browns back, but they didn’t go without noticing who won the Super Bowl in the year 2000.

Without going any further into the history of the new Browns, let’s just say it has been a giant train wreck since the team came back in 1999.

One high draft pick after the other falling into the bust category, and one regime after the other failing and then sent packing.  I scoured the internet trying to find a dollar amount on how much the Browns owe past coaches and general managers, but it was an impossible undertaking.  We can all agree it is in the tens of millions of dollars.

And in that time, the Browns have made the playoffs one time, going 9-7 in 2002.

Since 1999, the Browns overall record is 77-163!!!!

For 14 years, watching this franchise has been like watching the movie Ground Hog Day.  Regime after regime it has been nothing but failure.   High draft picks wasted, overall talent wasted and just total waste across the board.

Last year, Jimmy Haslam III bought the team and promised he would get it right.  After firing the entire staff and general manager, he handpicked former Philadelphia Eagles executive Joe Banner and former general manager Mike Lombardi to “right” the ship that lost its course years ago.

One year later, they fired their handpicked coach Rob Chudzinski.  The same coach a year earlier, Lombardi and Banner were praising as the right man to coach the Browns into the playoffs, a local guy who grew up loving the team he would now coach.

The honeymoon lasted one year, and here are the same guys who swore up and down they finally got it right, admitting they did not and had to make the move now to find the guy that would be able to take the Browns to the next level.

Until this team has a winning record and a playoff appearance it is not insulting to believe this is the same old Browns.  In his press conference, Haslam was very adamant that it is not the same old Browns and it is upsetting to him when he hears that.

Well unfortunately for Jimmy Haslam III, as of now, that is the status quo.  Maybe he hasn’t studied up on the current history of the new Browns, but he should.  Heck, maybe he will read this article and start to understand, but I doubt it.

Not until we see some progress in the standings, can we say the ship is finally starting to be righted.  Not saying, well five guys made the Pro Bowl so we must be on the right track.  No, that isn’t good enough, because with the five Pro Bowl players this team was 4-12.

The only difference now between the Lerner and Haslam ownership is the Haslam regime is currently upgrading the surroundings.  Things like new scoreboards, and better internet connectivity at the stadium.  That’s all fine and dandy, but Browns fans would rather see a replay on a 14″ TV and send messages via the homing pigeon if it meant 12-4 and a playoff run.

At the end of the day the once proud franchise that hooked me as a kid standing on the 50 yard line of Municipal Stadium is gone.  It left with Art Modell in 1995 to Baltimore and is gone forever.

The only way it can come back is in the way of this new Browns franchise getting it right and building a new history.

Until the new Browns put a winning team on the field that challenges for division titles and ultimately the playoffs, and dare I say a championship or two it won’t matter.

Is this the ownership group and front office that will be able to do that and show the rest of the NFL that the Browns are relevant again and not the laughing-stock of the league?

That is a question nobody can answer now.

However, saying this franchise is the same old Browns isn’t an unfair statement to make at all…


-MR(@puckelves) Instagram: Elves73

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Tags: Cleveland Browns Jimmy Haslam III Joe Banner

  • Matt

    I would like to start a shirt or start the idea, someone needs to come up with a cleveland browns tshirt with the theme being the 3 stooges.

  • Sam Gold

    Your take is interesting and seems opposite to what I heard at the press conference.

    Haslam said that it galls him to read that these are the same old Browns. He also stated that those who write it have a right to do so implying that the perception that they are the same old Browns still persists and he recognizes that fact. Yet he also knows the effort being made behind the scenes to create a winner and change that perception and because that effort has not yet produced the results to end the same old browns talk he is doubly frustrated. He has never, not once, intimated that the talk should end before the results warrant it. Coupled with this are the words he and Banner expressly stated yesterday which were it doesn’t make any difference what they say, until the results appear on the field and in the win/loss column it’s all just empty promises (as are all promises until results follow). This is why I don’t understand a statement like your last sentence, “However, saying this franchise is the same old Browns isn’t an unfair statement to make at all…” as if they have said that it is unfair to do so. They haven’t once said it’s unfair for anyone to say this or anything like it. They’ve said that until they show results they can’t claim anything. However, we demand promises and they offer them.

    Regardless of what they do or say most Browns fans, like most fans everywhere, are going to bitch and moan until the product on the field changes. We bitched and moaned because Holmgren didn’t fire Mangini soon enough. We did the same with Shurmur from the get go. Many, many fans were not pleased when Chud was hired. Now Haslam, Banner, et al have concurred and admitted they made a mistake and are cutting bait but now we’re upset that they didn’t give Chud more time and how dare they make a mistake. Yet if they had allowed Chud another year and he failed, as they appear to have determined he was going to, we would have bitched and moaned that they didn’t act sooner. How many teams that have just fired their head coaches have a significant number of fans that wish that coach had been fired sooner but in the interest of stability the FO didn’t act even if the signs were present sooner because fans and media go into full melt down if they step out of conventional wisdom mold?

    Every once in a great while a Belichick type comes along who follows his own lead and doesn’t give a rat’s ass what anyone else thinks about anything. Everyone hates him until he succeeds and then they line up to sing his praises and follow his lead. I have no idea if Haslam and/or Banner have the capacity to ever reach such heights but I’m damn sure glad they don’t give a shit what you or I think and are following their own lead because as someone so famously once said, “if you listen to the fans pretty soon you’ll be sitting with the fans.”

    • Dave

      Well said! i agree with you 100 percent

      • Sam Gold

        Thanks, Dave.

  • Mike

    Hey Sam thanks for commenting and adding to the discussion!!! That last sentence was more of a general statement. I was saying after all the promises and hype the new regime made last year that it’s not unfair for the fans to believe that this is nothing more than just the same thing over and over.(i.e.. same ol’ Browns) However, with that being said, I don’t believe for a second Haslam and Banner are ok with the same old Browns talk as they implied. They may seem to say we understand, but I really don’t think they do. I totally agree with your last statement, and if there isn’t improvement next year, Banner and Lombardi are going to be sitting in the Dawg Pound, not the owners box. The most interesting part of this offseason for me, having followed Banner closely when he was in Philly, is how he handles our free agents. In his years in Philly, he would try and resign star players for dirt cheap, which led to ruined relationships and trust among the players. In Philly, the players wouldn’t trust the front office and Reid would always wind up in the middle of things. Will be interesting to see how he handles Ward and Mack’s contracts in the offseason. We will see if it’s the same ol’ Joe Banner, or a new I learned from my mistakes in Philly Joe Banner..Guess we shall..

    • Sam Gold

      Thanks, Mike. I generally am in agreement with most everything you write and appreciate your perspective. I guess I’ve just become a little overloaded on all the told-you-so talk on other sites and caught a little whiff of that here and reacted (over?). We all want the Browns to win in the end and that’s really what matters. Keep up the good work. Really glad this site is here as a counterpoint to the venom spewing from most of the others.

      • Mike

        Thanks Sam that really means a lot!!! Trying to tweak Breakfast with Brownie, and wondering if there is anything you would like to see differently in it, or if you like as is?

        • Sam Gold

          Nope, everything looks pretty good to me. The only possible thing you might consider adding would be links to external articles (maybe in Random Barks) if you felt something was noteworthy (if you’ve already done this in the past and I missed it my apologies).

          • Mike

            Actually haven’t yet but thought about doing that..I will have to add a couple of those when I see some good ones for sure!!

  • Kopernicus

    Let’s see. Hire a defensive coordinator before hiring the the head coach?

    Same old Browns.

    • Sam Gold

      Only a rumor. Climb down off the ledge.

  • Bob Turner

    Good article, Mike!

  • Mike Ristano

    Thanks Bob!!

  • John Duquette

    Another excellent article thanks for sharing your fond memories of our Browns from a different era.
    I am not ready to call the brain trust the 3 stooges but I believe there is considerable cause for concern.
    I don’t know if Chud was the answer but I do know he didn.t get a fair shot. I became very concerned when I watched the cleaning out exercise that Mr. Haslam and company orchestrated when they took over, You cannot tell me that all those people where incompetent ,except maybe Holmgren
    The talk of trading Josh Gordon was the height of stupidity and I would also question the discussion about drafting Johnny Manziel, my opinion only, but he looks like trouble to me. If they let Ward and Mack go we will have to protest loud and long.
    Anyway let’s see the draft and go from there while we enjoy the run to the super bowl even though I lost some cash this weekend.