In homage to their entry into the world of professional football, the Cleveland Browns famously sport helmets that are unadorned by a logo. It’s a proud look, representing the storied history of a franchise that can trace its roots all the way back to 1946. While some fans have called for a change, the vast majority of the “Dawg Pound” are just fine with letting their on-field product do the talking for them.
The Browns first debuted within the ranks of the All-America Football Conference, and distinguished themselves right out of the gate by capturing the league championship in each of their first four seasons. Under the watch of coach Paul Brown, Cleveland posted a record of 47-4-3 while competing in the AAFC. Players such as Otto Graham, Marion Motley, and Lou Groza emerged as some of the first all-time greats to ever step onto the gridiron. Graham mostly lined up at tailback while at Northwestern University, but he switched to quarterback when he suited up for the Browns and promptly led them to 10 title game appearances in 10 years. The trio of all-stars remained in Cleveland when the franchise joined the National Football League in ‘50.
Some outsiders believed that the Browns wouldn’t be able to duplicate their AAFC success in the new federation, but those doubters were quickly silenced when Cleveland thumped the reigning NFL champs, the Philadelphia Eagles, in their first game. The impressive introduction was merely the start, and the Browns took the title in their first season. With Graham at the helm, the club booked five more consecutive trips to the NFL championship game and triumphed in both ‘54 and ‘55. Two years later, the organization acquired their next once-in-a-generation talent when they selected running back Jim Brown with the first overall pick at that year’s draft.
Over the course of the next nine seasons, there was no player more dominant than #32. A four-time MVP, Brown racked up 12,312 career rushing yards and powered Cleveland to a league crown in ‘64. After he suddenly retired in ‘66, the Browns continued to enjoy moderate success and nabbed six AFC Central division titles between ‘71 and ‘89. However, each playoff campaign ended in heartbreak, with three particularly devastating instances caused by John Elway and the Denver Broncos.
In ‘95, woe, heartache and grief swept across the city when it was announced that the club would be moving to Baltimore. Fans rallied to make their voices heard, and the league responded by granting Cleveland an expansion franchise in ‘99. A stately new coliseum, FirstEnergy Stadium, opened that year to herald the return of pro football. The “Dawg Pound” picked up where it left off, and once again, Cleveland was one of the most intimidating places to play in the entire league.
In a lot of ways, Browns fans are the backbone of the franchise. Through thick and thin, they’ve stuck with the crew while keeping one eye fixed on the ever-elusive Lombardi Trophy.