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Happy anniversary, return of pro football to Cleveland

Chicago Bears v Cleveland Browns Getty Images

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.

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45 Responses to “Happy anniversary, return of pro football to Cleveland”
  1. shackdelrio says: Mar 23, 2014 11:55 AM

    I don’t believe in sports curses. But Cleveland has caused me to rethink that a few times.

  2. idontliveinmymomsbasement says: Mar 23, 2014 12:29 PM

    The only factory to open in America in the last sixteen years. The Factory of Sadness. How sad indeed.

  3. cmiller282828 says: Mar 23, 2014 12:30 PM

    The laughing stock of the NFL for 16 years

  4. ballboy48 says: Mar 23, 2014 12:31 PM

    One of the best places to see an NFL Game.

  5. loyalraven says: Mar 23, 2014 12:32 PM

    When’s the anniversary of LeBron’s departure?

  6. tribefever says: Mar 23, 2014 12:40 PM

    Still unsure if this is a blessing or a curse.

  7. ✦ Pittsburgh is the City of Champions ✦ says: Mar 23, 2014 12:47 PM

    And one playoff appearance (no wins) to show for it.

  8. klroot says: Mar 23, 2014 12:55 PM

    The culture is changing, Jimmy Haslam has made changes to the front office, we are going from the ,” factory of sadness ,” to the, ” factory of gladness”.
    Look out NFL, here come the the CLEVELAND BROWNS!

  9. groundpounder95 says: Mar 23, 2014 1:08 PM

    Let’s not forget that the team assembled in ’99 was not organized like an expansion team. They got a raw deal with this, and the Browns team that was moved to Baltimore, but built in Cleveland won a Super Bowl. You can’t argue that, and on top of it, everybody wants to bash Cleveland. Basically, you are what you make of where you live, either happy or miserable. There are many great things to do in Cleveland, just like many other great cities around the world. To be honest, when the team left Cleveland, after being there for decades, was devastating. I’m just happy to have football in Cleveland, and a time will come when they can get back on track.

  10. ballin99999 says: Mar 23, 2014 1:08 PM

    The steelers appreciate the 2 guaranteed wins each year the browns bring

  11. deflateddome says: Mar 23, 2014 1:19 PM

    I don’t care when anyone says, Cleveland deserves to be here, regardless of record. The NFL would not be the same without Cleveland. The fans have shown over and over that they love their team, not matter what the record of circumstances are. I am pulling for them this year, even though I am not a fan..

  12. seattlerogueburner says: Mar 23, 2014 1:43 PM

    With the addition of talent this year plus a QB in the draft, the Browns could EASILY become division contenders. Sooner or later, Cleveland will take advantage of how the other 31 NFL teams view them. Watch out.

  13. slippery1 says: Mar 23, 2014 1:44 PM

    Pro football has returned to Cleveland???

  14. rdking20019 says: Mar 23, 2014 1:48 PM

    Browns are a Modell, ah model franchise !

  15. f1restarter says: Mar 23, 2014 1:55 PM

    The real tragedy here is that for three years, Cleveland didn’t have a team but Minnesota did.

  16. cguy7 says: Mar 23, 2014 2:01 PM

    At this time I would like to thank the Steelers for their third round pick this year, in exchange for our fourth round pick last year. We beat Cinci and Baltimore at home last year, and will add the Stillers to the list this year. We will assume our rightful place in the NFL.

  17. gbp4ever says: Mar 23, 2014 2:13 PM

    Browns are a storied team but brought down by inept ownership, front office, and coaches. The team needs to find a owner who knows how to find good front office talent who can then hire good coaches to use talent they have.

  18. jmac34 says: Mar 23, 2014 2:22 PM

    Some would say they are still waiting for football to return to Cleveland.

  19. eojtrid says: Mar 23, 2014 2:32 PM

    It would have been nice if the NFL would have done the right thing 15 years before that and rewarded Baltimore with a franchise after Bob Irsay left under the cover of darkness with no warning . But seeing how well it worked out for Cleveland and the NFL over the last 16 years……….nevermind.

  20. elwaysmilehighdenver says: Mar 23, 2014 2:41 PM

    “The Drive”! “The Fumble”! Thanks Cleveland. Great memories.

  21. Ed Bandell says: Mar 23, 2014 3:06 PM

    Let’s not forget that the team assembled in ’99 was not organized like an expansion team. They got a raw deal with this, and the Browns team that was moved to Baltimore, but built in Cleveland won a Super Bowl…”

    Not exactly. That team that arrived here in 1996 certainly was the Cleveland Browns, but 5 years later when the Baltimore Ravens won the SuperBowl, there was nearly nobody on the team from that original roster (can’t count Ray or Jermaine Lewis and Ogden as they were Ravens draft picks)….so that team was built in Baltimore. In fact, the ONLY player on the starting roster from that Browns team that was on the team in 2000 was the Kicker, Matt Stover.

    What isn’t pointed out is the shaft that Baltimore got with the Colts leaving town as that franchise was STOLEN from this city. With the Browns, it was not exactly a secret what happened. Cleveland decided to build a new park for the Indians, the horrible Cavaliers, and a new Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, yet left Art Modell with a dump of a place that was 70 years old and couldn’t bring in revenue. At least when Art left, he had the class to leave behind the legacy of the colors, the name, and your history books.

    Perhaps one of the best QB’s in the game of football; Unitas, has his records sealed away in a city in which he never set foot in.

  22. gadgetking2010 says: Mar 23, 2014 3:31 PM

    Modell left because of poor fiscal management and poor estate planning. He no longer had the Indians paying rent and providing customers for his share of the concession stands Also, he saw what happened to the Brown family in Cinci when Paul died and realized that his estate planning was just as bad. The move to Baltimore gave him a quick infusion of cash and allowed him to re-organize his estate to protect more of the money for his family when he died.

  23. enjoymoreradio says: Mar 23, 2014 3:40 PM

    I agree that what happened to the Colts was a travesty. But Irsay only left in the middle of the night because the City of Baltimore was planning on using eminent domain to take over the team, so he left the jurisdiction.

    As far as new facilities for the Indians and Cavs, Modell was offered a new stadium as part of the Gateway Project, and he turned it down. Then he realized he couldn’t make money in Municipal Stadium any more and bolted. And he didn’t “leave behind” anything. The City of Cleveland sued him, and he only gave up the history as part of NFL arranged settlement.

  24. nickinneohio says: Mar 23, 2014 3:46 PM

    Modell did not leave behind anything. The people of Cleveland fought for those colors and that history. No such passion from the city of Baltimore, or you may still have your Colts and legacy there.

  25. stevez51 says: Mar 23, 2014 4:30 PM

    And to all this happiness could come an owner put in federal prison

  26. j0esixpack says: Mar 23, 2014 4:30 PM

    No offense, but Pro Football has YET to return to Cleveland

    … and I make that snarky comment with a degree of sadness

    It’s awful what the NFL allowed Art Modell to do, turning a once proud football town, with loyal knowledgeable fans (well, all those that didn’t defend MangIdiot) and turning them into the punchline of a running joke

    Just my opinion, but I think the NFL is lacking something when Cleveland is a perennial joke, instead of the tough gritty team it had been for much of the NFL’s history.

  27. denverdude7 says: Mar 23, 2014 4:32 PM

    Football may have returned to Cleveland in 1999.

    However, the city is still awaiting the return of PRO football.

  28. dabmasterhap says: Mar 23, 2014 4:38 PM

    It’s coming back. Coach Pettine is Bill Cowher 2.0

  29. Ed Bandell says: Mar 23, 2014 4:38 PM

    It was only after Art Modell announced his plans to move the team to Baltimore that Cleveland decided to issue the funds to either renovate or rebuild the stadium. Maybe if they had done so sooner, this would have never happened.

    Modell said that he didn’t want the naming rights or history of the Browns, that it belonged in Cleveland. I don’t think there was much of a fight in any “settlement.” Quite frankly, I agree with that. The Browns franchise has a rich and solid history in the NFL and I would be ashamed if that name came to Baltimore because it does indeed belong in Cleveland.

    I think I speak for many, many fans in Baltimore that this is not how we wanted football back in our city. There is no way in the world that Carolina and Jacksonville put out better bids for an expansion team. The Carolinas are a rather untapped market so I can see expanding there. But Florida already had two teams and we see just how poorly that Jacksonville franchise is doing. Meanwhile in Baltimore, we’re selling out all the time. We should have gotten one of those expansion teams.

    The NFL wanted to give us the finger instead of the ball.

  30. pftbro says: Mar 23, 2014 4:52 PM

    Cleveland is the only city that got their heritage and colors restored after the team was moved. No other city who lost a team was able to do this. It is a tribute to the fans of Cleveland who fought hard to make it happen. As for the poor performance since 1999 it was due to bad ownership. Al Lerner bought the restored franchise and died a few years later. He left the team to his son Randy who didn’t want it, owns a soccer team in England. Randy kept trying to get someone to run the team while he was away and all they did was steal Randy’s money. Now, with new ownership, the Browns are back on track after dissolving the NFL shotgun marriage between him and Joe Banner.

  31. ravensbob says: Mar 23, 2014 4:54 PM

    Interesting that nick feels Baltimore had no passion when the colts left. Cleveland and Baltimore have similar fan bases. memorial Stadium was known as the worlds largest outdoor insane asylum when the colts played there. Cleveland had the same passion when they played at the mistake on the lake. Unfortunately for Cleveland, they have no passion for the browns anymore. The nfl GAVE a stadium to Cleveland because mayor white had no money left to build anything. The new browns fan is a wine and cheese eater, not a true fan, as before. Perhaps whine and cheese might actually be more appropriate.

  32. cguy7 says: Mar 23, 2014 4:57 PM

    Denver if it wasn’t for Terrell Davis you would have -0- Super Bowls. Bucky Beaver got you there prior to that, but stunk it up when it counted. Manning will not win another Super Bowl.

  33. ballboy48 says: Mar 23, 2014 5:39 PM

    Ed, Modell just didn’t want to wait for the November election. He was a terrible money man, and was in the verge or losing his charter membership (ownership) in the NFL. They approved the plan for funding, but he thought he would escape his financial troubles by moving to Baltimore. Guess what, three years later, the NFL made him sell his membership because he was going broke again.

  34. demstopper says: Mar 23, 2014 5:59 PM

    Also don’t forget, the stadium financing Modell took in Baltimore was the financing that the state of Maryland put in place to lure an expansion team in 1993. Had the NFL done the right thing and put an expansion team there in 1993, that funding would not have been available for the Browns. Instead, the NFL chose Jacksonville (how’s that working out) and left the pot of gold financing sitting on the table in Baltimore, there for the taking by another NFL team. (That funding was expiring too, so Modell had to move in 1995/96 or there would be no more financing.). The NFL had only itself to blame for leaving Baltimore’s superior bid in the table and picking a renovated Gator Bowl instead–while Baltimore’s Museum is sold out every week. It was all Tagliabue’s doing. So blame him, not Baltimore.

  35. j0esixpack says: Mar 23, 2014 6:24 PM

    Art Modell apologists may blame the City of Cleveland for not giving into his blackmail for money for a new stadium

    But Bob Kraft was able to build a stadium without Taxpayer dollars – Modell could have too

    Of course, Modell wouldn’t have made as much money

    I guess that’s what this all comes down to

  36. dickjagger says: Mar 23, 2014 7:00 PM

    Of all the teams who left major cities Cleveland still is the little baby about it! Sad how they are handled with kid gloves but the media largely ignores these other franchises.

  37. thetooloftools says: Mar 23, 2014 7:55 PM

    Modell deserved to walk away. The Indians got a great new yard, the Cavs got a really sweet barn, they built the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and then told Art they didn’t have any money for him.
    Hiring Mike Holmgren was a HUGE mistake. He never cared about Cleveland for two seconds… that’s why his salary was NOT included in the sale price because he was dead weight.

  38. barkinatbirdsinseattle says: Mar 23, 2014 8:39 PM

    STILL a fan out here, reping BROWNS Backers #239, in Seattle! NO BANDWAGON CHUMPS in this house. (Except most of the “fans” here) I am not trippin too hard. Just 5 (2009) years ago, the seahawks had the 4th pick. Sure, Curry was a bust. But they’re not now. Not saying our team is seattle, but it’s sure fun to think about. As ALWAYS… GO BROWNS!!!

  39. klroot says: Mar 23, 2014 8:40 PM

    Ed Bandell,
    You’re are incorrect, when the news broke out that Modell was moving to Baltimore, he was quoted , in the papers talking about the Baltimore Browns.
    After the fans bombarded the NFL offices, and the Mayor started legal litigation, is when Modell changed his mind about OUR NAME,OUR HISTORY, & OUR COLORS.
    And he was offered to have a shared stadium with the Indians, but he was quoted,” no let them have there own place.

  40. barkinatbirdsinseattle says: Mar 23, 2014 8:43 PM

    Sorry. Also, the seahawks “almost” left Seattle, a few years back. The “fans” here are sure glad they didn’t, now. :-)

  41. yyyass says: Mar 23, 2014 11:41 PM

    Baltimore fans had no intention of keeping the Browns name and god-awful colors. They might have moved as a business entity but they weren’t ever going to be the Baltimore Browns. We wouldn’t have because we knew how much it sucked to have our history stolen by Indianapolis – and nobody in the NFL agave a crap about us. And in no way was the SB winning Ravens team built in Cleveland. Only the kicker remained and the HOF draft choices occurred after the move. You got your crappy colors, name and team back – be happy and get off Baltimore’s case. We’re too busy winning Super Bowls and making playoff appearances to bother with you.

  42. audient says: Mar 24, 2014 7:24 AM

    Yeah, we got to keep our name, colors, and records, so they all could be profaned, defamed and otherwise ruined by a half-baked expansion franchise that is merely dressed like the team we once knew.

    We didn’t get a team, we got a settlement.

    Will this year be any different? I sure hope so. But if the last fifteen seasons are any indication, then not likely.

  43. thegloriousone says: Mar 24, 2014 9:06 AM

    I do a lot of business in Baltimore. I must say, the Baltimore media has done a wonderful job of brainwashing Ravens fans on the events that took place when the Browns moved from Cleveland to Baltimore.

    For what it’s worth Ravens fans, Modell was stone broke. He mismanaged his money to the point where he either had to move the Browns or sell them. Cleveland asked that that he sell, but Modell swore he would never sell until he did, of course, when he went broke again in Baltimore.

    Modell did not leave the colors behind. He was forced to leave them behind. It was either that, or he was going to have to play for three years in a lame duck stadium because he was under contract to play in Cleveland Stadium until 1999.

    Cleveland agreed not to litigate as long as the NFL guaranteed them a team in the next three years.

    The NFL agreed, Modell begrudgingly agreed to leave the colors, and Cleveland backed off so the Browns could move in 1996 instead of 1999.

    Tass and Pravda are envious of the spin job the Baltimore media has done on this chain of events. Modell screwed Cleveland with the NFL’s blessing, and now we are saddled with some of the most unwatchable football in history.

    I had a party the day Modell died. If he ever makes the Hall of Fame, it will be a dark day for sports.

  44. jlmill15 says: Mar 24, 2014 11:13 AM

    Let’s not forget to thank the Pittsburgh Steelers owner Dan Rooney for voting against that move when Modell decided to put the screws to Cleveland. That’s a man that understands the value of a rivalry. Let’s hope that sometime soon the Browns can make it a rivalry again on the field instead of a yearly embarassment.

  45. michaelcarol75 says: Mar 24, 2014 11:50 AM

    ED ED ED you need to stay in Baltimore, you know nothing about C-Town only what you have read…modell was broke and all the years we filled the stadium he jack-off the money…then moved the franchise so he could start over…..and yyyass you or the people had no say in our colors or anything if we didn’t fight for our name and colors it would have been the Baltimore Browns..what makes you think you or the lame fans think you had any say.

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