Cleveland Browns fans are the most loyal and loving fan base in all of sports. We follow our team fervently and with a keen knowledge of the history of our franchise and the game of football. It hasn’t always been easy being a fan of the orange and brown. In fact, we’ve seen many highs and lows over the years.
We were there in 1944 when Arthur B McBride was awarded a franchise in the newly forming All American Football Conference. We watched with intrigue as he hired Paul Brown, a coach with plenty of ingenuity and no professional experience.
We were there in September of 1946 in the Browns first season to see Marion Motley and Bill Willis become the first African American players to play in a professional football game. They debuted before Jackie Robinson broke baseball’s color barrier. If we didn’t appreciate it then, we should all be filled with pride now at this great piece of history.
We rooted for our team with pride through an undefeated 1948 title season and in 1950 as the Browns transitioned into the NFL and kicked the naysayers in the teeth by winning the title on December 24.
We weren’t paying as much attention as we do today, yet we knew we had something special when on November 26, 1956, a running back named Jim Brown was drafted sixth overall out of Syracuse. The greatest of all time would play in Cleveland for his entire career.
We were stunned when the greatest coach of all time, Paul Brown was fired on January 9, 1963. That feeling turned to utter sadness at the death of running back Ernie Davis on May 18 that year. Davis was a Heisman Trophy winner and would have shared the backfield with the great Jim Brown.
We celebrated like never before when the Browns won the NFL Championship on December 27, 1964. The 1966 title game would be called the Super Bowl.
We read Jim Brown’s retirement announcement in disbelief on Jul 14, 1966. Brown had just led the NFL in rushing in 1965 and appeared to be in his prime. He essentially retired out of boredom and over his contract.
Some of us still aren’t over the Paul Warfield trade to the Miami Dolphins that occurred on January 26, 1970. Warfield was quite simply a Hall of Fame wide receiver who helped the Dolphins win titles. This is probably the first trade in history we would undo if we could. Yet, a few months later, on September 21, we watched the Browns defeat the New York Jets on a Monday night. Little did we know that football would take over prime time markets like it has.
We cheered when Turkey Jones dropped Terry Bradshaw on his head on October 10, 1976. It was the beginning of a period in which the Steelers would dominate, but the Browns would not sit idly by.
We watched innocently on May 2, 1978, as the Browns used their two first-round draft choices on a linebacker and a tight end. Clay Matthews, Jr, and Ozzie Newsome would go on to be all-time Browns greats and beloved by we fans. Ozzie is already in the Hall of Fame and Clay belongs there.
We experienced kardiac arrest on January 4, 1981 with Red Right 88.
We smiled when Bernie Kosar manipulated the system on July 2, 1985, and was selected by his hometown Browns in the supplemental draft; using the same intelligence that would serve him well in the NFL.
On January 3, 1987, we were there when the Browns beat the Jets in double overtime in the playoffs. It was one of the greatest games ever played and our Browns were the victors. Our emotions once again turned to sorrow on June 17, 1986, when Browns safety Don Rodgers died of a drug overdose.
Our hearts were broken yet again on January 11, 1987, when John Elway executed “The Drive”. It is a series that some of us would like to forget since it kept our Browns out of the Super Bowl.
We wept for Earnest Byner on January 17, 1988, when “The Fumble” happened. The play once again resulted in the Browns missing a trip to the Super Bowl. Byner was a hero in that game. He almost single-handedly willed the Browns back to victory in the game.
We hoped for recovery when Kevin Mack was arrested for cocaine possession on June 28, 1989. Our emotions turned full circle when the Browns lambasted the Steelers in Pittsburgh 51 – 0 on September 10.
We saw excitement personified on October 25, 1993, when Eric Metcalf returned two punts for touchdowns to defeat the Steelers. The “Eric Metcalf” game is still one of our favorites of all time.
We were caught in the grips of evil on November 6, 1995, when Browns owner Art Modell announced that our Browns would be moving to the city of Baltimore. Art Modell had already done many things which we didn’t appreciate. He would forever be enemy number one after “the move”.
We partied like a bunch of frat boys leading up to 1999 and the return of our team. We were excited by the prospect of seeing Chris Spielman in a Browns uniform. We went nuts when the Browns defeated the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game on August 9. We really felt like football was back when Tim Couch hit Kevin Johnson with a Hail Mary to defeat the New Orleans Saints on October 31.
We were completely outraged on December 16, 2001, by “bottlegate”. The Browns should have won that game and we all knew it.
The joy of seeing one of our favorite plays in a down era struck us on December 29, 2002, when William Green scored from 64 yards out. Jim Donovan’s call of “Run William, Run!” is a classic that will never be forgotten.
We knew we had something special when we saw Joe Thomas on a fishing boat as he was selected by the Browns on April 28, 2007. Thomas is one of our all-time favorites and a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
We were entertained beyond belief by the Browns and Bengals when we saw the Browns win a 51-45 shootout on September 16, 2007. It was a game we could watch over and over again.
We, the great fans of the Cleveland Browns, were embarrassed in 2017 when our team lost all 16 games, matching a record set by the Detroit Lions for futility.
We were intrigued and filled with expectations when the Browns hired John Dorsey as their GM on December 8, 2017. After all, we saw him have some success in Kansas City and he was the football guy many of us had wanted to be in charge.
Many of us weren’t sure what to think on April 26, 2018, when the Browns drafted Baker Mayfield first overall. In a rich quarterback class, Baker had his supporters and his detractors. The course of Browns history seemed to be changed when Baker entered the game against the Jets on September 20. His play spoke for itself.
We were amazed when Odell Beckham Jr was obtained in a trade with the Giants on March 12, 2019.
We’ve seen the ups and downs of this great franchise. We believe in this team and will continue to bleed orange and brown for as long as the NFL is in existence. The future feels as bright as the past. Go Browns!