Cleveland Browns: Top 30 moments of all-time
The All-America Football Conference took the field with eight teams in the fall of 1946 with the intent of creating competition for the National Football League.
Instead, it turned into the private playground of the Cleveland Browns.
In the four years of the league’s existence, the Browns won the league championship every year as head coach Paul Brown used the time as an incubator for the Browns teams that would go on to dominate the NFL in the 1950s.
The Browns played the conference’s very first game, against the Miami Seahawks, on Sept. 6, 1946, in front of 60,135 fans at Cleveland Municipal Stadium – the largest crowd to ever watch a professional football game at the time.
Wide receiver Mac Speedie scored the first touchdown in franchise history when he hauled in a 19-yard pass from quarterback Cliff Lewis. By the time the final whistle blew as Ray Terrell crossed the goal line with a 76-yard interception return, the Browns had beaten the Seahawks, 44-0.
That was just an omen of what was to come as the Browns posted a record of 47-4-3, including a perfect 14-0 mark in the 1948 season, while outscoring their opponents by an average of 16 points per game.
Cleveland closed out the conference the same way they opened it, with a 21-7 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the 1949 championship game.
The 49ers had been one of just two teams to defeat the Browns in the previous four years, but Cleveland had no trouble in beating San Francisco for the title as Edgar Jones, Marion Motley and Dub Jones each scored a rushing touchdown on the day.
With that win the Browns closed out a dominant four-year run and, along with the 49ers and Baltimore Colts, prepared to move on to the NFL for the 1950 season. – TM
Next: No. 7: Jimmy Haslam buys the Browns