Five Cleveland Browns game videos from the 1950s provide welcome relief from social distancing in a world currently without sports.
1950 was the year that the All-America Football Conference was dissolved and the Cleveland Browns joined the NFL, along with the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Colts. Players from the other AAFC teams were dispersed throughout the NFL via a dispersal draft, which allowed the Browns to select Len Ford from the Los Angeles Dons.
In Cleveland, Ford would develop into a Hall of Fame defensive end, though he was known more for playing offense in Los Angeles. He would join entrenched stars quarterback Otto Graham, offensive linemen Frank Gatski and Lou Groza, running backs Marion Motley and Dub Jones, split ends Dante Lavelli and Mac Speedie (definitely the best name of any wide receiver in history), defensive tackle Bill Willis, linebacker Tony Adamle, and defensive backs Ken Gorgal and Tommy James, just to name a few.
The burning question was whether the Browns, as four-time AAFC champions, were good enough to play in the NFL. Probably more bar fights were started over this controversy than by any other controversy in the sporting world, with the possible exception of whether Ted Williams was better than Joe DiMaggio.
In the Cleveland Plain Dealer, (December 20, 1948 p. 23), Harry Jones summarized the controversy: “Some say that the 1948 Cleveland Browns, undefeated and untied champions of the All-America Conference, unquestionably have the greatest football team of all time. Others say that the Browns may or may not be among the all-time greats, but are certainly the best in the land today, better by far than the Philadelphia Eagles of the National League. And there are a few who say that the Browns are simply a good team in a weak league.”
You could pencil George Preston Marshall, the owner of Washington’s NFL team, in the latter category. “The worst team in our league could beat the best team in theirs.” Needless to say, such comments sparked enormous controversy.
This question would be resolved on the field. The first game of the 1950 season would match the Cleveland Browns as the reigning AAFC champion, against the NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles. You can count the NFL Champion Philadelphia Eagles among those who took the Browns lightly.