The Cleveland Browns were established in 1946 by Paul Brown, who was also the team’s first head coach. The NFL club plays in the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC).
The Browns were first in the renegade All-American Football Conference (1946-1949), playing in the league’s Western Division. They joined the NFL in 1950 and were in the American Conference from 1950-1952 and the Eastern Conference from 1953-1969. Staring in 1967, the Browns were in the Century Division (1967-1969) of the Eastern Conference.
The team became part of the AFC in 1970, playing in it until 1995 and then again from 1999 to the present. They were first in the AFC Central (1970-1995 and 1999-2001) and became associated with the AFC North in 2002. The name “Browns” went through a period of inactivity when owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore. Although Modell was allowed to take his team to Maryland, the NFL stipulated that the city of Cleveland would retain the name “Browns” for a new expansion franchise. Therefore, the Browns were renamed the Ravens, but it was the same team, simply in a new city and new uniforms. The historical records of the team would remain in Cleveland. This resulted in an established team moving, and having the history of an expansion team, while an expansion team began play, but it had the record of an established team.
There was no team known as the Browns between 1996-1999, when the expansion team began play. In order to remember which team is which, the Baltimore Ravens are often referred to as the “Old Browns,” while the expansion team in Cleveland is often referred to as the “New Browns.”
The team has won 13 Division Championships (AAFC 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949; NFL Century 1967, 1968, 1969 and AFC Central 1971, 1980, 1985, 1986, 1987, 1989), 11 Conference Championships (NFL American 1950, 1951, 1952 and NFL Eastern 1953, 1954, 1955, 1957, 1964, 1965, 1968, 1969) and eight League Championships (AAFC 1946, 1947, 1948, 1949 and NFL 1950, 1954, 1955, 1964). The Browns are one of the oldest teams never to have won a Super Bowl.
The Browns have had several players and coaches inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, including quarterback Otto Graham (1946-1955), head coach Paul Brown (1946-1962 Browns and 1968-1975 Cincinnati Bengals), fullback Jim Brown (1957-1965), offensive tackle and placekicker Lou Groza (1946-1959), wide receiver Paul Warfield (1964-1969 and 1976-1977 Browns; 1970-1974 Miami Dolphins and 1975 Memphis Southern WFL) and tight end Ozzie Newsome (1978-1990). The past two decades, however, have seen no potential Hall of Famers wear the orange and brown.
Hall of Famer Graham tossed the ball for 23,584-yards, hitting for 174 touchdowns and earning a rating of 86.6. Coach Paul Brown ended his career with a record of 170-108-6 and seven championships. Running back Jim Brown, who became a successful movie actor after retiring from the NFL, gained a total of 12,312-yards, averaging 5.2 yards per carry. He crossed the goal line 126 times and was a Pro Bowl and All-Pro selection every one of his NFL seasons. Groza, who like Jim Brown spent his entire career with the Browns, went to nine Pro Bowls and as a kicker scored 1,349 points and a total of 1,608 points overall. Warfield had 427 receptions for 8,565-yards while making 85 touchdowns. Newsome, who is presently an executive with the Ravens organization, garnered 47 touchdowns while making 662 catches for 7,980-yards.
The Browns first played in Cleveland Municipal Stadium from 1946-1995. Since the team was reconstituted in 1999, they have called Cleveland Browns Stadium home. The team’s present owner is Randy Lerner, who bought the team in October 2002. Since January 6, 2005, Phil Savage has been the club’s General Manager and Senior Vice President. Romeo Crennel joined the organization as head coach on February 8, 2005.