The first editorial I did on this sight was “God hates the Cleveland Browns.” Now the NFL Channel admits that the Browns are the “most snake-bit team in the NFL.” One expert on the show indicated that the team suffered from the “Paul Brown curse.” But it is not Paul Brown that cursed the team and its fans to perpetual suffering, it was Art Modell!
The Modell curse started in 1961 when he bought the team. (My Dad believed that a fool and his money are soon parted. The question is how did they get together in the first place?)
On Jan. 9, 1963 Modell began to display his total ignorance of the game and his inability to evaluate talent when he fired long time GM and head coach Paul Brown. While there were a number of issues between Brown and Modell one thing is clear. Under Paul Brown the team had won four AAFC championships and three NFL titles. He had brought together a team that was always in the playoffs before there was a wild card. And yet Modell fired him.
Modell wanted to have control over the football side of the team. Modell was clearly not qualified for such a role. While Modell replaced Brown with a competent coach (Blanton Collier) he did not find someone qualified to replace Brown in the GM role. While there were issues with Brown’s coaching style, the team was in position to challenge for another championship which they won in 1963.
Brown went on to establish the Bengals in Cincinnati and they have appeared in two Super Bowls compared to 0 Super Bowl appearances by the Browns.
Modell went on to operate the team on a shoestring. He had to borrow money to sign free agent WR Andre Risen. That showed his lack of both business sense and knowledge of the game. His purchase of the stadium proved financially disastrous. When the Indians got a new stadium in Gateway, Brown was offered a deal there as well. He turned it down. The loss of the revenue from the Tribe and other bad business decisions eventually led to the team moving to Baltimore.
The Browns’ fans were still supporting the team despite having to suffer the worst stadium in the league. Not even the duplicitous Modell could blame the move on lack of fan support.
It is significant that Al Learner was a party to the team moving out of town. When the move was made Brown fired Bill Belichick. Belichick went on to a Hall of Fame coaching career.
The Modell curse continues to this day. Al Learner proved to be totally inept as the owner of the “new” Browns. When he died, his son took over the team. Randy had no interest in the team and made several bad moves including hiring Mike “the walrus” Holmgren.
One would think that the Modell curse would be broken when the team was sold to someone with no ties to the Baltimore move. But as we all are aware, the curse continues in the form of the investigation into the family business of new owner Jimmy Haslem.
Can the Browns turn it all around and become the winning team the fan base deserves? While I hope so I am not holding my breath. My prediction for the end of the world is day before the first Super Bowl in which the Browns will play! That would be the ultimate Modell Curse.
That’s what I think. Tell me what you think.
Bill Smith is a former coach of several semi-pro teams, has officiated both football and basketball, done color on radio for college football and basketball and has scouted talent. He edits http://fryingpansports.com. He has also published several novels on and a non-fiction work at http://www.merriam-press.com/. Follow him on twitter @NNRonDSN to get the schedule of Special News, Notes and Rumors broadcasts. You can hear the previous shows on http://fryingpansports.com/radio-show/.
He also edits http://fryingpanpolitics.org/.
To keep up with the News, Notes & Rumors podcasts, follow me on twitter @NNRonDSN.