This article began as a simple telling of how the Cleveland Browns managed to unceremoniously shoot themselves in the foot, as has become an annual tradition. It has turned into a love letter from a lifelong Steelers fan, detailing how their ineptitude has kept us all entertained for decades. I know we are supposed to hate the Browns from here in Pittsburgh. But really, what’s to hate? Here are some classic Cleveland catastrophes, starting with the most recent.
The Browns Fail To Nab A.J. McCarron
I think my favorite part of this story is that A.J. McCarron isn’t even a big name. No, wait, my favorite part is that the Browns’ front office was allegedly late submitting the trade because they were too busy celebrating. Actually, I think my real favorite part was that the Bengals, professional football’s halfway house for reformed criminals, submitted the trade at 3:55 with 5 minutes to spare. When the Bengals make you look unorganized, you are struggling.
There is an obvious disconnect between head coach Hue Jackson and upper management. The team is obviously in desperate need of talent, and those two groups are not on the same page about where to find it. The question remains, why staff your front office with analytics experts and hire a head coach with a traditional mindset? My prediction is that Browns fans might want to make a little extra room on the back of their Couch/Detmer/Wynn/Pederson/Holcomb/McCown/Garcia/Dilfer/Frye/Dorsey/Gradkowski/Anderson/Quinn/DelHomme/Wallace/McCoy/Lewis/Hoyer/Weeden/Campbell/Manziel/Griffin/Kessler/Kizer jersey.
Browns Move To Baltimore
The Browns moved to Baltimore in 1996. The Ravens won the Super Bowl at the end of the 2000-2001 season and the 2012-13 season. Not only is it classic Browns that the organization that had been in Cleveland for decades without a Super Bowl won one so quickly after leaving, but the way in which the team left was equally absurd.
Art Modell demanded 175$ million in taxpayer dollars to renovate the Browns’ stadium. He moved the team a single day before the city approved the funding. If Art Modell had a jersey, we would have a lot of B-roll of Clevelanders burning it in parking lots.
In case you missed it, the evil genius, AKA The Hoody, AKA Senator Palpatine, has won 5 Super Bowls, 3 NFL coach of the year awards (should probably be more like 15), 26 postseason games, and that’s just as a head coach. He also won 2 Super Bowls as a defensive coordinator. He is probably the greatest coach in NFL history and possibly the greatest coach in the history of any professional North American sport.
The Browns fired that guy.
Tragic Death Of Ernie Davis
It would be easy to put “the fumble” or “the drive” on this list, but there have been a few instances of genuine heartbreak in Browns history. In 1962, Ernie Davis was the first African American player to be selected number one overall in the NFL draft. Jim Brown was still head honcho in Cleveland. The thought of that backfield tandem would have kept opposing defenses up at night.
Before Davis got on an NFL field, he was diagnosed with aggressive Leukemia and passed away a year later at the age of 23. At a time of political and social strife surrounding race relations in the U.S., Davis won the Heisman trophy and wanted to be treated like any other player. His story inspired the film The Express.
2002 Divisional Loss To Steelers
This one might not seem like a big deal. I was there, and believe me, it was. The “new” Browns were a solid team for the first time and they had dominated the Steelers through three and half quarters. Pittsburgh had turned the ball over 3 times and could not convert on third downs to save their lives.
The Browns were up 17-7 at halftime, 24-7 in the 3rd, and 33-21 with 10 minutes remaining. That is of course, before Tommy Maddox, the first, last, and the only MVP of the XFL (look it up kids) led the Steelers to victory in Heinz field.
The Browns were refused their first playoff win since returning to Cleveland in 1999. Guess how many they have since then?
I find absolutely nothing hatable about the Browns. They’re a little brother in the AFC North. Hopefully, they can turn it around in some capacity. Maybe LeBron is available in the offseason?