This Day in Browns History: Feb. 5

Posted by Matt Florjancic on February 5, 2012 – 9:33 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Cleveland Clinic presents This Day in Browns History.  If you call 1.800.274.2009, Cleveland Clinic will schedule an appointment for either the same day or the next day, including Saturdays.  Call to learn more.

In his second go-around as an NFL head coach, Bill Belichick has had tremendous success with the New England Patriots.

In fact, tonight he will try to take the Pats to their fourth Super Bowl crown – all under his watch — when they face off against the New York Giants.

But his first go-around was with the Browns, and it started Feb. 5, 1991 when then team owner Art Modell hired him to rebuild the franchise.

Belichick had been defensive coordinator of the Giants when they won the Super Bowl following the 1986 and ’90 seasons. It was about a week before when the Giants, on the strength of their defense, upset the Buffalo Bills, 20-19, in Super Bowl XXV.

Just as much as Belichick’s acumen on defense, Modell was sold on the 38-year-old’s attention to detail. He laid out a precise, specific, five-year plan to get the Browns back on track.

The Browns had had a great five-year run from 1985-89, making the playoffs every season, winning four Central Division titles and advancing three times – in a four-year span – to the AFC Championship Game. But they had fallen way off to a 3-13 finish in 1990, causing coach Bud Carson to be fired halfway through the season after just 1½ years on the job.

The Browns did get better that first season under Belichick in 1991, doubling their wins total from the previous year in a 6-10 finish. They improved on that a bit the next two seasons, going 7-9 both times, before breaking through in 1994, a year ahead of Belichick’s original plan to Modell. They finished 11-5, getting their most regular-season wins since 1986, and earned their first playoff berth in five years by making it as a wild card. They also won a playoff game in the first round – over the Patriots.

Not surprisingly, the impetus for that success was built largely on the defense, as the Browns gave up just 204 points, a franchise record for a 16-game season.

Sports Illustrated predicted in its 1995 preview issue that the Browns would make it to the Super Bowl for the first time, and, following a 29-26 comeback win in overtime over the Bengals at Cincinnati on Oct 29, they were still hanging in there at 4-4. While it wasn’t the record they expected to have at the midway point of the year, the Browns hoped that emotional victory would get them jump-started.

As it turned out, though, things changed dramatically five nights later when news leaked that the Browns were going to relocate to Baltimore after the 1995 season.

There was nothing in the coaching handbook for keeping a team together after a bombshell announcement like that, and, as a result, the Browns went 1-7 in the second half of the season to finish 5-11.

Belichick was dismissed after the season and spent the next four years as an assistant with first the Patriots and then the New York Jets before being hired by New England as head coach in 2000. He won the Super Bowl the following year.

Also on this date, Feb. 5, in Browns history:

*In 1957, the Browns players voted 100 percent – 35-0 – to support the new NFL Players Association, which had been established in Cleveland just a little more than two months earlier, on Nov. 29, 1956.

*In 1966, Keith Jones was born in Omaha, Neb. A sixth-round choice of the Los Angeles Rams in the 1988 NFL Draft out of Nebraska, he played his lone season in the NFL with the Browns in 1989. He rushed for 160 yards and a touchdown and caught 15 passes.


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This Day in Browns History: Feb. 4

Posted by Matt Florjancic on February 5, 2012 – 9:32 pm

By: Steve King, Contributor to ClevelandBrowns.com

Cleveland Clinic presents This Day in Browns History.  If you call 1.800.274.2009, Cleveland Clinic will schedule an appointment for either the same day or the next day, including Saturdays.  Call to learn more.

Playing in the NFL is the dream of nearly ever college football player.

But sometimes those dreams change.

That was the case with Oklahoma center/linebacker Kurt Burris, the Browns’ first-round pick in the 1955 NFL Draft.

It was on Feb. 4, 1956 that Burris, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1954, announced he would not be signing with the Browns because he was about to be inducted into the Navy.

Ironically, Browns coach Paul Brown drafted Burris to replace Tom Catlin, Cleveland’s starting left linebacker in 1954, who was already in the Navy. Cleveland Benedictine High School and University of Dayton product Chuck Noll had played that spot in 1955 as the Browns won their second straight NFL championship and third in six years.

As it turned out, while Noll stayed at left linebacker for the Browns through 1957, then moved to offense to become Brown’s messenger guard, Burris ended up playing in the Canadian Football League for five years (1955-58 and ’60) with first the Edmonton Eskimos and then the Saskatchewan Roughriders and Calgary Stampeders. He won Grey Cup titles in 1955 and ’56 while with the Eskimos.


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