Sixteen years ago Sunday, NFL owners did the right thing. They voted unanimously to keep their word and re-award Cleveland an NFL franchise to replace the one Art Modell moved to Baltimore.
With that, the Browns — with their classic uniforms and franchise history still in tact — returned to NFL play in 1999.
So this is the part where we mention the Browns haven’t exactly played well since coming back. The on-field product has left much to be desired, and the off-field decision-making has too often fallen short.
Nevertheless, Cleveland has a team. And on paper, it’s a pretty talented team. Four Browns — wide receiver Josh Gordon, left tackle Joe Thomas, cornerback Joe Haden and tight end Jordan Cameron — were Pro Bowl starters a season ago. Gordon, a third-year pro from Baylor, was simply dominant at times in 2013, even with sometimes shaky quarterback play.
Potential? The Browns don’t lack for it. Production? That’s another story. Alas, we know that story.
But at least Cleveland gets a chance to start authoring some happier endings.