A Brief History
On October 7, 2018, the Cleveland Browns of the National Football League ended their incredible run of ineptness by finally winning a game on a Sunday, after losing 36 consecutive Sunday football games dating back to December of 2015! The victory did not come easy, as the Browns pulled off the historic win by making a field goal in overtime, winning 12-9. The Browns had previously ended their 17 game losing streak that stretched 635 days by tying the Pittsburgh Steelers 21-21 in overtime in the 2018 season opening game. On September 20, 2018, the Browns finally won a game by beating the New York Jets by a score of 21-17 on a Thursday night, ending a 19 game winless streak.
How significant is failing to win on 36 consecutive Sundays? The next most inept Sunday NFL team only lost on 25 consecutive Sundays. Since team owner Art Modell picked up and moved the Browns to Baltimore in 1996, renaming his team the Baltimore Ravens, a new Browns franchise was created in 1999, a far cry from the highly successful franchise it replaced. The “new” Browns have been the poster child of ineptitude, making the playoffs a lousy 1 time in 19 seasons, and suffering a 1-15 record in 2016 and a 0-16 record in 2017, the worst 2 year stretch in NFL history by any team. The 2018 draft seems to have made a difference, as picking former Oklahoma quarterback Baker Mayfield has energized the team and given it new life, with a record of 2 wins, 2 losses, and 1 tie so far in 2018, a record that save for a couple of missed kicks and bad referee calls could easily have been 5-0. (Really, no joke.)
The quarterback situation in Cleveland has been particularly ridiculous, capped off by the selection of Johnny “Johnny Football” Manziel in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. The Browns have used more starting quarterbacks since 1999 than any other team, by a lot (30 different starting quarterbacks). Besides Manziel, other first round picks gone bad included Tim Couch, Brady Quinn, Brandon Weeden, and Colt McCoy (3rd round) and Deshone Kizer (2nd round). Trades, experiments, and disasters at other positions drafted in the first round made the Browns seem cursed (or inept).
Things seem different now, and the fan base is energized for the first time in years. The kneeling for the National Anthem that put a damper on NFL football enthusiasm the past couple years seems to be over, and the revitalized Browns have an equally revitalized fan base. No longer are the Browns an easy “W” for other teams, as even in non-winning games so far this year the margins of victory and defeat have been razor thin.
Question for students: Can Browns fans dream of possibly making the playoffs in a weak AFC North Division? Give us your estimate of the chances of the Browns posting a winning record this year and whether or not they have a chance of making the playoffs.
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For more information, please see…
Crepeau, Richard. NFL Football: A History of America’s New National Pastime. University of Illinois Press, 2014.
Grossi, Tony. Tales from the Cleveland Browns Sideline: A Collection of the Greatest Browns Stories Ever Told. Sports Publishing, 2018.
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