The best Cleveland Browns No. 9 was also their first soccer-style kicker
The countdown to the 2020 NFL season is upon us. With 9 days remaining until the Browns season opener, we continue the countdown by celebrating the best Cleveland Browns player to ever wear number 9: Matt Bahr.
Matt Bahr came from a soccer family and his father, Walter Bahr, was one of the greatest U.S. soccer players of all time. Both of his older brothers, Casey and Chris, played for the U.S. World Cup team at different times in the 1970s. Matt’s brother Chris made the transition to football and had a 14-year as a kicker in the NFL. Matt was hoping to follow in his brother’s footsteps.
Bahr was in his third season in the NFL when the Cleveland Browns traded a ninth-round draft pick to the San Francisco 49ers to obtain his rights. Bahr was a proven bad weather kicker and that is exactly what the Browns were looking for. Born in Pennsylvania, Bahr played his college ball at Penn State and played his first two seasons in the NFL for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Bahr’s first two seasons in Cleveland were up and down. In 1981, Bahr converted 13 of his 20 field goal attempts, and he went seven for 15 the following year in 1982. However, Bahr rebounded in 1983 by leading the NFL by making 87.5% of his field goals.
Over the course of the following three seasons, Bahr was a consistent force for the Browns. With Marty NAME Schottenheimer taking over as head coach, the importance of the kicking game was amplified, and Bahr answered the challenge. Unfortunately, Bahr suffered a torn ligament in his right knee when making a tackle on a kickoff in week 12 of the 1986 season.
Bahr made his return to the field in week 14 of the 1987 season. He made all five of his extra points as well as a 27-yard field goal in the Browns 38-24 win over the Cincinnati Bengals. The following week he went head to head with his older brother Chris for the first time in their professional careers. Matt won the battle of the Bahrs, as he went three for three on extra points and made a 20-yard field goal in a Browns’ victory over the Los Angeles Raiders.
Bahr rebounded from his injury in 1988 and posted his second-best season as a member of the Browns. He made 82.8% of his field goals and kept the Browns in several games that a lesser kicker would not have been able to. However, his performance in 1989 led to the club moving on from the veteran kicker, with Bahr only making 66.7% of his field-goal attempts. The Browns cut Bahr during their 1990 training camp.
He went on to play an additional six seasons in the NFL, including winning a Super Bowl the following season with the New York Giants. Bahr’s 677 points rank him fifth all-time in scoring for the Browns. Bahr was beloved by Browns’ fans for was his willingness to make tough tackles on kickoff, which is an art that many kickers of today’s game are not willing to partake in.
Matt Bahr was a hard-nosed blue-collar kicker and he is the best player to wear number nine for the Cleveland Browns.