The Cleveland Browns finished the 2016 season with a 1-15 record. The next year, they couldn’t even scrounge up a single win. In fact, the last time the Browns made the playoffs was in 2002. So, it’s hard to argue with the fact that the Browns objectively suck. But why?
The team was one of the great dynasties of the pre-Super Bowl era, with eight league championships. They also boasted one of the greatest running backs to ever play the game in 3-time MVP Jim Brown. So, what went wrong? Many chalk it up to poor management and draft choices, resulting in a single playoff appearance since the team returned to Cleveland as an expansion team in 1999 after the franchise was moved to Baltimore in 1995.
We asked NFL Hall of Famer Terry Bradshaw, who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl Championships. When Bradshaw signed with the Steelers in 1970, they were the worst team in the league. The living legend shared some aspects of the Browns organisation that make him optimistic about the team’s chances in the 2018 season.UPDATE: Since this video was published, the Cleveland Browns traded wide receiver Josh Gordon to the NewEngland Patriots.(Bradshaw spoke to Business Insider during his publicity tour for Pfizer’s “All About Your Boom” campaign, which educates Baby Boomers about pneumococcal pneumonia.)
Following is a transcript of the video.
Narrator: The Cleveland Browns have been struggling for a long time. In 2016, they went 1 and 15. In 2017, it somehow didn’t get any better, as they went 0 and 16, and they scored the least points of any team in the NFL.
Manny Ocbazghi: For the entirety of my life, it’s been a comical atrocity. My name is Manny. I’m from Columbus, Ohio and I’ve been a Cleveland Browns fan for my whole life.
[Manny was born in 1992.]
Ocbazghi:There’s been just no level of remote success for the entire time I’ve been alive.
Narrator:But the Browns didn’t always suck. In the pre-Super Bowl era, the team won eight league championships. And one of the greatest running backs of all time, Jim Brown, spent his entire career in Cleveland, where he was named MVP three times.
Ocbazghi:That’s like before my time. So all I know is failure.
Terry Bradshaw: You’ve got to have a vision how you want to develop your football team. And I don’t think the Browns ever had that.
Narrator: Terry Bradshaw is an NFL Hall of Famer who led the Pittsburgh Steelers to four Super Bowl wins. And he knows a thing or two about starting at the bottom. When the Steelers signed him in 1970, they were the worst team in the league.
Bradshaw:When you make bad drafts, when you don’t have a vision of how you want to build your football team. This is what you get into.
Narrator: In 1995, when Bill Belichick was the coach, the Browns packed up and moved to Baltimore, where the team became known as the Ravens. Four years later, the Browns were back in Cleveland as an expansion team. But since 1999, the Browns have only had one playoff appearance.
Tyler Lauletta:Their Badness has defied all logic. It’s been a combination of management, coaching, awful drafting. I think the easiest way to pin to pin down the Browns’ struggles since they moved back in 1999 is an inability to find a quarterback. They have a tendency to try and get the flashy player that isn’t going to succeed. Brady Quinn, Johnny Manziel, these were guys that were like big names in college football that like people were excited to see in the pros and really crashed and burned quickly.
Narrator:Whether it was through poor scouting or coaching, the Browns franchise has notoriously struggled with their first round picks over the years. And with the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, the Browns selected quarterback Baker Mayfield. But the team isn’t betting it all on their rookie QB. Instead, the team is focusing on the long game… letting Mayfield develop behind starting veteran Tyrod Taylor.
Lauletta: Those moves indicate to me that they’re finally planning and like thinking about the Cleveland Browns beyond the next eight weeks. That’s one of the reasons I think this iteration, the Browns might actually be the one to buck the trend.
Narrator:There was a slight glimmer of hope in Week 1 when the Browns tied the Steelers, in the first regular season game without a loss since 2004.
Terry Bradshaw:They’re on the right track. Just keep putting the pieces of it together. Josh Gordon came back, the wide receiver. You’re talking about a weapon. Their tight end is pretty good, their running back is pretty good. They’re slowly getting better. So don’t be surprised. The Browns could win five or six games, I think.
Ocbazghi:All I want this year is like five or six wins honestly. A lot of people are wanting the Browns to go to the playoffs this year, but for me… just get a couple wins. For some reason, I think this is one of those situations where it’s like the past 20 years have been horrible, but it’s darkest before the dawn.
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