The Cleveland Browns entered the NFL in 1950 as a dominant force after going 47-4-3 and claiming all four championships in the All-American Football Conference.
The NFL wanted to put the upstarts in their place, so Commissioner Bert Bell scheduled the Browns to open their inaugural season on the road against the two-time defending champion Philadelphia Eagles.
Philadelphia head coach Greasy Neale was so confident that he didn’t even bother to scout the Browns prior to the opener.
In hindsight, it was not one of the best ideas by either Bell or Neale.
In front of 71,237 fans at Philadelphia’s Municipal Stadium, the Browns rolled over the Eagles, 35-10, and announced to the NFL that there was a new sheriff in town.
The Browns were led by quarterback Otto Graham, who was 21-of-38 for 346 yards and three passing touchdowns (and one rushing touchdown). According to Jonathan Knight’s book, Classic Browns, at one point during the game head coach Paul Brown checked in with assistant coach Blanton Collier to see what the Eagles were doing on defense.
“Truthfully, I don’t know,” Collier replied. “I can’t tell because I’m sure they don’t know what they are trying to do themselves.”
In addition to Graham’s performance in the passing game, the Browns totaled 141 rushing yards and averaged almost six yards per carry.
Philadelphia wide receiver Pete Pihos summed up the day when he met his wife after the game.
“We just met up with a team from the big league,” Pihos said.
It was a lesson the rest of the NFL was about to learn the hard way. – TM
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