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Cleveland Browns – Established 1946


The story of the Cleveland Browns can be traced back to 1944 when local businessman Arthur C. McBride secured a franchise in the new All-America Football Conference to start in 1946. He hired Paul Brown to run the show and named the new franchise after him. The Browns were an immediate success and won four straight AAFC Championships between 1946 and 1949. The Browns boasted a 52-4-3 record in that time but were forced to join the NFL after the AAFC dissolved before the 1950 season.


The move did nothing to slow down the Browns and Cincinnati went on to reach the NFL championship game every year from 1950 until 1955. The Browns won three of those five NFL title games. The team, led by Otto Graham at the time, made it to 10 consecutive championship games, between 1945 and 1955 before his retirement.


The Browns would make it back to the NFL Championship three times over the next decade, winning once in 1964. This run was thanks in large part to the Browns drafting future Hall of Fame player Jim Brown out of Syracuse in 1957. Brown’s time in the league was short, but he set the all-time rushing record which stood until 1988.


When the AFL and NFL merged before the 1970 season, Cleveland was assigned to the AFC conference where they made the playoffs in 1971 and 1972. However, they fell in tough times in the mid-70s and early 80s before drafting Bernie Kosar in 1985. Kosar led them to three AFC Championships games in the 1980s but lost to the Denver Broncos each time.


Then, in 1995, then owner Art Modell announced he would be relocating to Baltimore to play alongside the Orioles. Cleveland fans were outraged and a deal was struck that allowed Modell to move the franchise but leave the Browns’ brand behind. All of the logos, colors, history, and records would remain on hold until a new team could be brought into Cleveland.


After three years in limbo, the Browns franchise was reactivated in 1999 under new owner Al Lerner. Since then, the Browns struggled throughout the 2000s and 2010 with a record of 101-234-1 since 1999. In that span, the Browns have just three winning seasons and two appearances in the playoffs. The tipping point was during the 2016 and 2017 seasons when the Browns went 1-31 including an 0-16 season in 2017. It was the worst a team has ever played in back-to-back seasons.


However, in 2020 the Browns managed to reach the playoffs for the first time since 2002 and finished with an 11-5 record in the regular season. They followed that up with an 8-9 season in 2021 and will be fighting to avoid another losing season in 2022.