The Cleveland Browns played their inaugural season in 1946 as members of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), the rival league to the NFL. After winning all four AAFC championships, including a perfect 14-0 season in 1948, the Browns were one of three AAFC teams (original Baltimore Colts, San Francisco 49ers) admitted into the NFL.
The Browns continued their dominance in their inaugural NFL season, defeating defending NFL champion, the Philadelphia Eagles in their first regular-season game. They went on to win the NFL championship in 1950, 1954, and 1955, while appearing in the 1951, 1952, and 1953 NFL championship games.
The Browns saw one more NFL championship in 1964 under the leadership of head coach Blanton Collier, before appearing in the 1965, 1968, and 1969 NFL championships, the latter two being just one game away from the Super Bowl.
Throughout the 1970s, they saw their chief rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers, dominate the NFL while the Browns fell into mediocrity. It would be short-lived, however, as they found their way back in league with the NFL’s elite with playoff appearances in 1980, 1982, 1985, 1986, 1987, and 1989.
However, bad luck would crush the Browns’ Super Bowl aspirations in events like Red Right 88 in 1980, The Drive in 1986, and The Fumble in 1987, with the latter two coming against the Denver Broncos. The Browns went on to lose the 1989 AFC Championship Game, also to Denver, a year in which the team also won its last division championship to date.
The team hit another dead zone in the early 1990s under the leadership of new head coach, Bill Belichick before breaking out in 1994. After several sports outlets predicted the team would contend for the Super Bowl in 1995, former owner Art Modell stunned the City of Cleveland when he announced the team would move to Baltimore in 1996, setting off a controversy that saw the City of Cleveland challenge Modell, who breached his lease agreement on Cleveland Municipal Stadium, and the NFL.
A settlement was reached that kept the Browns’ name, colors, and history behind in Cleveland so a new team would continue the rich history of Cleveland Browns football in a new stadium, to begin play in 1999 through either expansion or relocation.
The ‘new’ Cleveland Browns returned in 1999 but struggled on the field over the past two decades. Since the team’s return, they have made one playoff appearance, a loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers, and bottomed out with an 0-16 record in 2017.
In 2018, however, the Browns made splashes in the draft and in free agency, and after a 2-6-1 start to the season, they rallied to finish 7-8-1 under the leadership of rookie quarterback, Baker Mayfield. The Browns were also mathematically in contention for both the AFC North Championship and the playoffs until Week Sixteen.
In 2019, the Browns made even more splashes, trading for Pro Bowl defensive end Olivier Vernon to pair with Second Team All-pro, Myles Garrett and made a second trade for All-Pro wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr.
While 2019 didn’t go as planned for the Browns, they continued to build throughout the 2020 offseason, adding talents like Austin Hooper and Jack Conklin to make even further improvements in hopes of contending once more.
Cleveland Browns Quick Hits
First Energy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
Chomps, Swagger, Brownie the Elf
Otto Graham, Jim Brown, Brian Sipe, Bernie Kosar, Joe Thomas
Won NFL Championship in Inaugural NFL Season.
Named after their first coach, Paul Brown.
Main Article: Cleveland Browns Helmet History
2006-2014 (variations used from 1960-1974)
Main Article: History of the Cleveland Browns Jersey
2016-2019 Color Rush