No. 1: The Year Modell’s Credit Card Was Declined
The Bill Belichick years in Cleveland receive an incomplete grade and 1995 was the reason why. Belichick took an old, beaten-down team and promptly sought to make the Browns younger, and tougher. After two uninspiring seasons, Belichick began to turn the ship in 1993.
This was also the year when he released Bernie Kosar for what later even Kosar admitted was insubordination. Nevertheless, Belichick’s bet on a more mobile Vinny Testaverde paid off when the Browns made the playoffs in 1994. Hopes were high as the Browns prepared for the 1995 season.
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What fans would not find out until later was that owner Art Modell’s money was running out. Modell’s primary business was always owning the Browns and being the majority owner of Municipal Stadium. When the Indians opened Jacob’s Field (now Progressive Field) in 1994, Modell lost a revenue stream. Making matters worse, Modell was engaged in a long battle with city officials as he attempted to plead his case for tax-payer funded renovations to Municipal Stadium.
In order to sign free agent wide receiver Andre Rison, Modell had to have his wife Pat open up a line of credit. But the Browns started the season out strong, going 3-1. The success was short-lived. The Browns lost four of their next five to sit at 4-5 when on November 6, Modell announced that he was moving the team to Baltimore. Not surprisingly, the Browns limped to the finish line.
Their only win coming in the last home game of the season, a 26-10 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The Browns would finish that season at 5-11 and soon the Cleveland Browns would become the Baltimore Ravens.
The 1995 season will never be measured with the utter ineptitude of the 2017 Browns who went 0-16 or the 2016 team that went 1-15 and may have arguably been worse. However, for any Browns fan over the age of 35, the 1995 season will go down as perhaps the worst season in franchise history as the Cleveland Browns would not play another game in Cleveland until 1999 when the franchise was reborn as an expansion team.