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tags:The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) North division. The Browns play their home games at FirstEnergy Stadium, which opened in 1999, with administrative offices and training facilities in Berea, Ohio. The Browns’ official colors are brown, orange and white. They are unique among the 32 member franchises of the NFL in that they do not have a logo on their helmets and are the only team named after a specific person, original coach Paul Brown.
The franchise was founded in 1945 by businessman Arthur B. McBride and coach Paul Brown as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). The Browns dominated the AAFC, compiling a 47–4–3 record in the league’s four active seasons and winning its championship in each of them. When the AAFC folded after the 1949 season, the Browns joined the National Football League along with the San Francisco 49ers and the original Baltimore Colts. The Browns won a championship in their inaugural NFL season, as well as in the 1954, 1955, and 1964 seasons, and in a feat unequaled in any of the North American major professional sports, played in their league championship game in each of the Browns’ first ten years of existence. From 1965 to 1995, they made the playoffs 14 times, but did not win another championship or appear in the Super Bowl in that period.
In 1995, owner Art Modell, who had purchased the Browns in 1961, announced plans to move the team to Baltimore, Maryland. After threats of legal action from the city of Cleveland and fans, a compromise was reached in early 1996 that allowed Modell to establish the Baltimore Ravens as a new franchise while retaining the contracts of all Browns personnel. The Browns’ intellectual property, including team name, logos, training facility, and history, were kept in trust and the franchise was regarded by the NFL as suspended. A new team would be established by 1999 either by expansion or relocation. The Browns were announced as an expansion team in 1998 and resumed play in 1999.
Since resuming operations in 1999, the Browns have struggled to find success. They have had only two winning seasons (in 2002 and 2007), one playoff appearance (2002), and no playoff wins. The franchise has also been noted for a lack of stability with quarterbacks, having started 26 players in the position over the past 18 seasons. To date, the Browns’ overall win-loss record since 1999 is 88–200.
In January 2016, the Browns made headlines when after firing Farmer and Pettine, promoted general counsel Sashi Brown to Executive VP of Football Operations, and hired longtime baseball executive Paul DePodesta as chief strategy officer. These moves were viewed nationally as the Browns trying to take a more analytics intensive approach to building the team, taking a page from the “Moneyball” style of Major League Baseball teams like the Oakland Athletics – of which DePodesta helped pioneer during his time as an assistant to Athletics GM Billy Beane. With Brown essentially taking over GM duties, this marks the fourth different head of personnel (either as GM or similar job title) under the Haslam ownership era, which began in 2012.
On January 13, 2016, the Browns hired Bengals offensive coordinator (and former Oakland head coach) Hue Jackson as head coach – making him the eighth full-time head coach since the team’s return in 1999 and fourth since 2012, when the Haslam ownership era began.
On January 28, the Browns hired Andrew Berry – a longtime scout with the Indianapolis Colts – as VP of Personnel. Berry, being a Harvard alumnus like DePodesta and Sashi Brown, has been noted as furthering the Browns new analytic approach, and the trio has been dubbed as the “Harvard Connection” (and other similar monikers) by local and national media.
On March 4, team president Alex Scheiner announced he would be stepping down from his post effective March 31, and would remain with the team as a consultant for the rest of the year. With this move, Paul DePodesta essentially became the top ranked executive of the team in his role as Chief Strategy Officer. This makes DePodesta the fourth different top executive of the team under the Haslams’ ownership.
On March 11, following two seasons of inconsistent play on the field and numerous highly publicized incidents off the field, the Browns waived quarterback Johnny Manziel.
On March 24, the Browns signed quarterback Robert Griffin III to a two-year contract.
Going into the 2016 NFL Draft, the Browns had the #2 overall pick. They traded that pick to Philadelphia in exchange for the #8 pick in the first round (along with various later round 2016 picks, and Philadelphia’s first round pick in 2017).