Mike Brown, son of Cleveland Browns founder Paul Brown has his team in Super Bowl LVI, and don’t forget that the Cleveland Rams were NFL Champs in 1945 before fleeing to Los Angeles.
As Super Bowl LVI is inching closer, Cleveland Browns fans are once again disappointed. It’s been 58 years since the Browns were World Champions, and it’s getting rather ridiculous. 56 of these events will have taken place with 112 teams taking part, with no representation from our fair city.
Adding insult to injury, however, is the fact that the two teams in this season’s Super Bowl both originated in Cleveland. The Cincinnati Bengals only exist because former Browns owner Art Modell ran the Browns Hall of Fame coach Paul Brown out of town to start a new team in the rival American Football League.
You probably are aware that the Cleveland Browns were founded with Brown as its coach in 1946 in the now-defunct All-America Football Conference (AAFC) in 1946, and won every championship in that league’s four-year history. So what happened prior to 1946? Well, for one thing, the Cleveland Rams were NFL Champions in 1945. Then they packed up and moved to Los Angeles to make room for the Browns.
The Browns were AAFC Champions in 1946, 1947, 1948, and 1949. Upon moving to the NFL, they were NFL Champions in their first year in the league in 1950, 1954, and 1955. They won their last Championship game in1964 and lost in 1965 (the last year without a Super Bowl). They were one game away from the Super Bowl five times, in1968,1969,1986, 1987, and 1989. Blanton Collier was the coach the first two times.
The cursed Denver Broncos managed to turn back the Browns the last three times in the 1980s. Marty Schottenheimer was the coach in 1986 and 1987. The following year, all three Browns quarterbacks — Bernie Kosar, Gary Danielson, and Mike Pagel — were injured and the Browns narrowly lost in the playoffs with fourth-string Don Strock under center after two weeks of practice.
So Art Modell fired Marty Schottenheimer for his bad play calling. Man, Modell teams should win the Super Bowl with the fourth-string quarterback, given the right play-caller, right (by the way, Kennel’s Law of Internet Sarcasm states that nothing you can say is so silly that someone won’t take it seriously, so to be absolutely clear, Marty Schottenheimer should never have been fired by pipsqueak Modell)?
Modell’s career shows that he was actually very good at hiring brilliant people to work for him, but then he would become jealous and fire them. So he hired Bud Carson, a defensive coordinator from Pittsburgh who was not allowed to hire his own offensive coordinator or call offensive plays. Who heard of a coach who was not allowed to call plays? It’s okay to have a hotshot offensive coordinator call plays. But to have a coach that is not allowed to overrule the coordinator? That was a little over the top.
But back to our story. Modell’s dysfunctional plan somehow got Bernie Kosar, Kevin Mack, Clay Matthews & Co. to one final AFC Championship game appearance in 1989, but they have not been back since. They won one playoff game in 1994 and 2020 and that is as close as they have come.
Both the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals have Cleveland roots. They can both say, “I’ve been thrown out of better stadiums than this!”
This article will also discuss the 1924 NFL Champion Cleveland Bulldogs, who wound up becoming the New York Giants. And oh, by the way, the Detroit Lions were originally an Ohio team also. So Ohio is the birthplace of the Cleveland Browns, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Los Angeles Rams, New York Giants (half of them, anyway — it’s complicated), and Detroit Lions. That’s six NFL teams that started in Ohio that are still active, with two of them remaining.
Three NFL World Champions have already moved out of Cleveland, so hopefully, the present edition of the Cleveland Browns will stay. Read on, starting with the Bengals and ending up with the story of how the Cleveland Bulldogs wound up in New York.