The Cleveland Browns are the absolute fast starter among the NFL teams: In the first five years of their existence, they won the championship five times. However, the first four seasons, they didn’t play in the NFL, but in the AAFC (All-American Football Conference), a short-lived NFL competitor league. But even after their change to the NFL, the Cleveland Browns were one of the most successful teams for decades.
In 1944, the successful businessman Arthur B. McBride out of Cleveland acquired a franchise of the newly formed AAFC, which should start operations in 1946. First of all, McBride hired a successful college coach as head coach and general manager: Paul Brown. Thanks to his good connections, they managed to attract some of the best players of their time to Cleveland: Quarterback Otto Graham, fullback Marion Motley or tackle / kicker Lou Groza. The team could also count on the unconditional support of the football fans of the city, who were still in shock about the move of the Cleveland Rams to Los Angeles after the 1945 season. The Cleveland Browns dominated the AAFC almost at will and won all the championships of the league in the four years of its existence.
Before the AAFC was closed in 1950, the Cleveland Browns managed to find shelter in the NFL along with two other teams – the San Francisco 49ers and the Baltimore Colts. Many didn’t take the new arrivals very seriously; they could not imagine that good football could be played outside of the NFL. But they were quickly taught differently: In the very first game in the NFL the Browns defeated the reigning NFL champion Philadelphia Eagles with 35:10. And they also closed the season with a win, with a 30:28 victory over the Los Angeles Rams in the NFL Championship Game. This way, the Browns won their first NFL title just in their first NFL season. The Browns also reached the final in the following five years and won the title in 1954 and 1955, during this time, it was a pleasure to watch Cleveland Browns games.
In 1961 Art Modell bought the team and the Paul Brown era came to an end in 1962. However, the successful times did not end there: Between 1950 and 1990, the Browns reached the playoffs 22 times thanks to players like fullback Jim Brown, running back Leroy Kelly, wide receiver Paul Warfield or tight end Ozzie Newsome, however, they only managed to win the championship one more time in 1964, although they reached the AFC championship game three times in 1986, 1987 and 1989, but lost to the Denver Broncos three times.
In 1995, Art Modell surprised the football world by announcing the relocation of the team to Baltimore. He had fierce resistance, though: fans and politicians organized protests to prevent to the move. With success: The NFL found itself forced to intervene. Model was allowed to leave the city with his management and his players and to start over in Baltimore as the Baltimore Ravens. However, the name of the team, its history and records remained in Cleveland and the NFL guaranteed the city the return of the Browns, if a new stadium would be built within three years.
The leaders went to work and in 1999 the team was revived on the shores of Lake Erie, with the old name and the old look. As if the Cleveland Browns had never been away.