The Cleveland Browns: A Franchise in Shambles

The Cleveland Browns have had a troubled history and are one of the most unlucky franchises in the NFL.

Jonathan Rios, Journalist

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  In sports, it is hard to be consistently good from year to year. Teams like the New York Jets have a Superbowl win in 1969, but have shown ineptitude on the football field starting with Mark Sanchez’s infamous buttfumble. The Cleveland Browns are a team that is synonymous with losing and having the worst luck of any NFL franchise.

  Cleveland has not always been a bad team, after all they created the classic one-bar helmet, were the first to put transistor radios in the quarterback’s helmet, and have 4 NFL championships along with 4 AAFC championships form from 1946-1964. The NFL was created in Canton, Ohio which is an hour away from Cleveland, and this historical city is the birthplace of the NFL and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

  On November 6, 1995 Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell made the following announcement outside of FirstEnergy stadium, “The browns are indeed coming to Baltimore.” Cleveland, at the time, was building a new stadium for their baseball team, the Indians and an arena for the Cavaliers, but not repairing FirstEnergy stadium even though it was a mess.

  To say that Browns fans were a little upset would be a massive understatement. Over 70,000 fans attended home games in the 1995 season and Modell became public enemy number one. Fans wrote Modell angry letters, protested the move, and the mayor of Cleveland vowed to “fight to keep the Browns so we don’t lose our team in the middle of the night” referencing the Colts’ move from Baltimore to Indianapolis.

  Three years went by without a football team until Cleveland’s mayor, Michael White, planned a $247 million stadium to start bringing the Browns back. Businessman Al Learner offered the highest price ever paid for a sports franchise and the Browns returned as an expansion team. There was hype for the following season after the Browns drafted their quarterback of the future, Tim Couch. They had a home opener against the Pittsburgh Steelers to kick off the 1999 season and browns fans were excited.

  The Cleveland Browns would suffer a humiliating defeat to the steelers 43-0. The Browns lost the next 6 games. They would eventually beat the steelers 16-15 in their own backyard, but something was going on in Baltimore. The Ravens went 8-8 in 1999 and a year later in 2000 the ravens would dominate in the playoffs and win their first Super Bowl against the New York Giants 34-7 with linebacker Ray Lewis earning MVP. Browns fans were furious that they missed out on a Super Bowl and they would set out and try to win a ring.

  In 2001 the browns were close 6-6 with four games left had to beat the jacksonville jaguars to have a shot at the playoffs. The score was 15-10 jacksonville led with 1 minute left. Quincy Morgan caught a crucial fourth down play, and the Browns spiked the ball after to stop the clock. The replay officials were buzzed to review the play before the snap of the spike play. The call was reversed and the Jaguars had the ball and could take a knee to end the game.

 

(photo credit cleveland.com) A person kicks bottles, and various trash after hundreds of thousand of fans threw them onto the field in rage

 The fans were obviously ticked off, saying that the team ran another play after the 4th down play and that play could not be changed. In response, Browns fans threw bottles onto the field in rage and the refs had no choice but to end the game. As the refs entered the tunnel they were pummeled by fans in the stands and the coaching staff was speechless.

  The next year, the Browns would finally make it into the playoffs, but would suffer a tough loss to a team picking up steam, the Pittsburgh Steelers. They would begin their first of two rebuilds, including firing butch davis in the middle of the 2004 season.

  In 2007 they would have a year to remember. The Browns had their best record to date 10-6 this would end the golden era of the Browns. The Steelers would once again have the last laugh as the Browns lost to them twice, hindering their chances at the playoffs. In 2008 the exact same players and coaches would fall flat on their faces and go 4-12

  Cleveland entered their second rebuilding era and would always be 4th in the AFC North, except for 2014 where the team lost 6 of their last 7 and missed the

(photo credit L.A. Times) This mannequin wears Tim Couch jersey with the names of all of the starter quarterbacks the Cleveland browns have had since 1999

playoffs. In 2017 they would reach an all-time low. They lost all 16 of their games being the 2nd team to do so, tying the 2008 detroit lions for utter incompetence on the football field.

  In 2018, they went 7-9 and were 3rd in the AFC North and fans have hope for 2019. The Browns have acquired players like Kareem Hunt and Odell Beckham Jr., and fired head coach Hugh Jackson for his ineptitude. With the Steelers future questionable, and the Cincinnati Bengals continuing their rebuild, there may not be much competition for the Browns. The following seasons may start slow, but the rebuild may be over and the Browns may be ready for their playoff run after 17 years of grinding and waiting.