Cleveland Browns Team History
The Browns origins date to 1944, when taxi cab magnate Arthur B. “Mickey” McBride secured the rights to a Cleveland franchise in the newly formed All-America Football Conference. The AAFC was to compete with the dominant National Football League once it began operations at the end of World War II, which had forced many professional teams to curtail activity, merge or go on hiatus as their players served in the U.S. military. The name of the team was at first left up to Paul Brown, who rejected calls for it to be christened the Browns. The franchise then held a naming contest to publicize the team, promising a $1,000 war bond to the winner. In June 1945, a committee selected “Panthers” as the new team’s name. McBride, however, changed it to the Browns two months later, the result of another naming contest that suggested Browns, not after Paul Brown himself, but as a shortened version of Brown Bombers, a reference to the nickname of boxer Joe Louis. Some sources say McBride was asked for thousands of dollars in compensation from a businessman who owned the rights to the name Cleveland Panthers, an earlier failed football team.
Art Modell, a 35-year-old advertising executive from Brooklyn, purchased the team in 1961 from a group of shareholders led by National Insurance Company. The beginnings of a power struggle between Paul Brown and Art Modell took its toll. Journalist D.L. Stewart recounted in Jeff Miller’s book on the AFL, Going Long, “As you well can imagine, Jimmy Brown and Paul were not thick. The buzz was that Jimmy had Modell working for him, and Paul took exception to that.” The season otherwise was typical: a fifth consecutive league-leading season from Jim Brown and a half-decent performance in the standings, but again, at 8–5–1, they were two games out of a berth in the championship.
Modell announced on November 6, 1995, that he had signed a deal to relocate the Browns to Baltimore in 1996 a move which would return the NFL to Baltimore for the first time since the Colts relocated to Indianapolis after the 1983 season. The very next day, on November 7, 1995, Cleveland voters overwhelmingly approved an issue that had been placed on the ballot at Modell’s request, before he made his decision to move the franchise, which provided $175 million in tax dollars to refurbish the outmoded and declining Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Modell’s plan was later scrapped and taxpayers ultimately paid close to $300 million to demolish the old stadium and construct a new stadium for the Browns on the site of Municipal Stadium.
In February 1996, the NFL announced that the Browns would be ‘deactivated’ for three years, and that a new stadium would be built for a new Browns team, as either an expansion team or a team moved from another city, that would begin play in 1999. Modell would in turn be granted a new franchise, the NFL’s 31st, for Baltimore, the Baltimore Ravens, retaining the current contracts of players and personnel. The Browns ceased play at the end of the 1995 season when Modell relocated the organization to Baltimore. The Browns franchise was then reactivated, and its roster restocked via an expansion draft before resuming play in the 1999 season. There would be a new team, but the Browns’ name, colors, history, records, awards and archives would all remain in Cleveland. The move fueled a proliferation of 12 new stadiums throughout the NFL. Using the NFL–City of Cleveland agreement’s promise to supply a team to Cleveland by 1999, several NFL franchises used the threat of relocation to coerce their respective cities to build new stadiums with public funds.
Cleveland returned to the NFL in 1999 with high hopes and expectations, featuring deep-pocketed ownership in Al Lerner. When his father, Al Lerner, died in October 2002 – four years to the day after he was awarded the new Browns franchise – the ownership of the team passed on to Randy Lerner. Randy Lerner served as a member of the National Football League’s Business Ventures Committee. In 2012, Lerner sold the team to businessman Jimmy Haslam.
In July 2012, owner Randy Lerner announced that he planned to sell the Browns to businessman Jimmy Haslam. The sale was finalized on August 2, 2012 in excess of $1 Billion (USD). Haslam officially was approved as the new owner on October 16, 2012 at the NFL owners’ meetings, and the very next day former Eagles president Joe Banner was named as the Browns new CEO.
The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) North division. The Browns play their home games at FirstEnergy Stadium, which opened in 1999, with administrative offices and training facilities in Berea, Ohio. The Browns’ official colors are brown, orange and white. They are unique among the 32 member franchises of the NFL in that they do not have a logo on their helmets and are the only team named after a specific person, original coach Paul Brown.
1950 – Present National Football League
1946 – 1949 All-America Football Conference
Browns – There’s some debate about whether Cleveland’s professional football franchise was named after its first coach and general manager, Paul Brown, or after boxer Joe Louis, who was nicknamed the “Brown Bomber.” Team owner Mickey McBride conducted a fan contest in 1945 and the most popular submission was Browns. According to one version of the story, Paul Brown vetoed the nickname and chose Panthers instead, but a local businessman informed the team that he owned the rights to the name Cleveland Panthers. Brown ultimately agreed to the use of his name and Browns stuck.
1946 – Present Cleveland Browns
Super Bowl 0
All-America Football Conference Championships 4
1949, 1948, 1947, 1946
NFL Championships 4
1964, 1955, 1954, 1950
2013 – Present FirstEnergy Stadium
1999 – 2013 Cleveland Browns Stadium
1946 – 1995 Cleveland Municipal Stadium
2012 – Present Jimmy Haslam
2002 – 2012 Randy Lerner
1998 – 2002 Al Lerner
1996 – 1998 Cleveland Browns Trust (Operations suspended)
1961 – 1995 Art Modell
1953 – 1961 David Jones
1946 – 1953 Arthur B. “Mickey” McBride
14 Otto Graham
32 Jim Brown
45 Ernie Davis
46 Don Fleming
76 Lou Groza
1998 – Present Chomp
*Blue is this team’s history