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Jim Ray Smith–2005 inductee to the Cleveland Browns Legends. 205 - page 2 / 50





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Team History



Just how did the Cleveland Browns get their name?

One myth is that the team was named after the popular boxing champion, Joe Louis, “The Brown Bomber”. The truth, according to several published reports, is this:

When Owner Arthur McBride brought an AAFC team to Cleveland in 1945, he held a newspaper contest to name the team and offered a $1,000 war bond to the winner. Most of the entries submitted wanted the name Browns, because the extremely popular Paul Brown was the team’s head coach.

Coach Brown thought it wouldn’t be proper to name the team after him, and the entry “Panthers” was select- ed. A few weeks later, a man approached McBride and said he owned a semi-pro team in the 1920s called the Cleveland Panthers and he still owned the rights to the name.

McBride could have bought the man off, but Brown vetoed the idea. The coach didn’t want the new team to be associated with a losing franchise. Instead of holding a new contest, Brown reluctantly agreed to name the team Browns. But, in sticking with his original ideals, Brown suggested publicly that since Louis was “The Brown Bomber”, that was how the team got its name. Not a single entry in the contest listed Louis or his nick- name as a reason for choosing “Browns”.



The Cleveland Browns were originated by Owner Arthur (Mickey) McBride as a member of the All- America Football Conference. Paul Brown was named coach and general manager, and the first player he signed was then-tailback Otto Graham, who was con- verted to quarterback with the Browns. The Browns won the Western Division title with a 42-17 victory over the Buffalo Bisons and then defeated the New York Yankees, 14-9, in the championship game.

Paul Brown was released from his duties after 17 seasons as head coach of the franchise. Blanton Collier, a Browns’ assistant, was named head coach.


The Browns won the Eastern Conference title with a 52-20 victory over the New York Giants and defeated the Baltimore Colts, 27-0, in the NFL Championship Game.


The Browns continued their domination of the AAFC, winning three more championships.



In his last season, Jim Brown won NFL MVP honors and led Cleveland to the NFL Championship Game, where the Browns were defeated by the Green Bay Packers.

Following the merger of the AAFC and the NFL, the Browns tied the New York Giants with 10-2 records for a share of the Eastern Division title. The Browns defeated the New York Giants, 8-3, in a playoff game and then stopped the Los Angeles Rams, 30-28, for the championship.


An eighth round pick in 1964, Leroy Kelly became the club’s dominant threat, rushing for 1,141 yards, but the Browns finished second in the Eastern Conference to the Dallas Cowboys.



The Browns won three consecutive Eastern titles, but lost each time in the league’s title match, once to the Los Angeles Rams and twice to the Detroit Lions. In 1953, McBride sold the club to an organization head- ed by David Jones.

With newly acquired quarterback Bill Nelsen (from the Pittsburgh Steelers), the Browns won the Century Division title and beat the Dallas Cowboys in the play- offs, but lost to the Baltimore Colts in the NFL Championship Game.



Led by quarterback Otto Graham, the Browns won back-to-back NFL championships, defeating the Detroit Lions and Los Angeles Rams.

The Browns won the Century Division title for the third straight year, but lost to the Minnesota Vikings in the NFL Championship Game.


1956 At 5-7, the Browns suffered their first losing season.


Jim Brown was selected in the first round by the Browns and earned rookie-of-the-year honors while helping Cleveland to the Eastern Division title.


The Browns became members of the AFC Central Division and finished second. The Browns beat the New York Jets, 31-21, on Monday Night Football’s first-ever telecast.


Nick Skorich, a Browns’ assistant, was named head coach. The club won its first AFC Central crown.

Art Modell purchased the Browns for the then un- heard sum of $4 million.

1972 The Browns lost to the eventual Super Bowl Champion


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