Cleveland Browns: Remembering the 1999 Hall of Fame Game

Mandatory Credit: (Brian Bahr/Allsport)
Mandatory Credit: (Brian Bahr/Allsport) /

The 2017 Pro Football Hall of Fame Game took place Thursday night, which may remind Cleveland Browns fans of when the team took part in 1999.

Football returned Thursday night with the annual Pro Football Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio.

Players wearing Dallas Cowboys jerseys took on Blaine Gabbert and other players wearing Arizona Cardinals jerseys to begin the NFL preseason.

Even though the Cleveland Browns are so close to Canton, the team hasn’t played in the event since 1999.

The Browns were back and fans were excited, so the team provided false hope with a 20-17 overtime win against the Cowboys. The team ended up going 2-14 that season, but the victory in the Hall of Fame Game got things off to a good start. If only we knew what the future held.

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Even though it was just an exhibition game, simply seeing the Browns back on a football field was an amazing sight. Win or lose, the game surely brought some fans to tears after several years of heartbreak without a team in town.

Some Browns fans may wonder why the team hasn’t played in the event since 1999, especially considering how close the team is to Canton.

Part of the problem is not having an individual who played in the past few decades be enshrined, while the team’s record also doesn’t help. Gene Hickerson was the last Brown to be inducted, back in 2007, but his star power wasn’t enough to get the Browns to play in Canton.

While the spotlight is nice, playing five preseason games is not ideal so perhaps it is a good thing the Browns haven’t been to Canton since 1999. It was actually a nice thing during that inaugural season for the coaches to have that extra game to evaluate talent, but the team can barely stay healthy now, so an extra exhibition wouldn’t help.

Next: First step toward reaching Super Bowl

It would be hard to top the excitement Browns fans had back in Canton during the month of August in 1999. It was innocent hope and optimism that honestly probably hasn’t been matched since then. Alas, we keep hoping.