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The 1995 Cleveland Browns, DEAD Team Playing (VIDEO)

Posted on October 04, 2012 by Joe Gill

Browns Fans Had Their Football Hearts Torn Out

Never has a professional sports team announced they were moving DURING a season. No owner has ripped the hearts out of his franchise’s fans, players and coaching staff like Art Modell did in Cleveland during the ’95 season. In essence, the ’95 Cleveland Browns became a “DEAD Team Playing”.

Bill Belichick came to Cleveland in 1991 fresh off a Super Bowl victory with the New York Giants. He came to the Browns to bring respectability back to the once proud franchise that could never get over the hump. He instilled a system and assembled a staff (which included 3 future GM’s, 2 successful college coaches and one NFL coach) that would lead the Browns to their first Super Bowl.

Belichick took a team from a 3-13 season to a 6-10 record in his first year at the helm. In 1992 & 1993, the Browns posted back to back 7-9 campaigns and were showing progress. However, progress was not without pain and scrutiny.

Bill Belichick made a controversial and risky decision by benching Cleveland icon Bernie Kosar early in the ’93 season in favor of Vinny Testaverde. A mere eight weeks later, Kosar was released due to his “diminished skills” as described by Belichick. Browns fans were enraged by Kosar’s dismissal as they wore Bernie Kosar masks to the following home game.

The head coach survived the fire and brimstone to lead the Browns to the playoffs in 1994 after posting a 11-5 record. Belichick would face his mentor, Bill Parcells and the New England Patriots in the playoffs. Cleveland won the wild card match-up 20-13 before falling to their hated rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers 29-9 in the divisional round.

Hope was breeding eternal in the “Dawg Pound” as their Browns were back to respectability. NFL pundits such as the Sporting News and Sports Illustrated were picking the Browns to go to the Super Bowl in 1995.  And the team was believing in the hype as they started the season 3-1.

Cleveland was riding high….

Then IT happened…………..

Money Prevailed Over Loyalty & Tradition In Cleveland.

Owner Art Modell addressed the staff and the players telling them that the team was being moved to Baltimore. Everyone was SHOCKED & STUNNED. As Bill Belichick stated in the NFL Network’s A Football Life/Cleveland ’95, “What was happening to the team was UNFAIR.”

Modell stated his reason to moving was “To Win A Championship”, but it was purely financially. He had lost over $21 million over the previous two seasons. Modell didn’t feel he was getting the support from the city of Cleveland for a new stadium.

In just one day, Art Modell went from hometown hero to public enemy number one.

When word got out of the move, the city was turned upside down. Bill Belichick and Art Modell received death threats. Bomb scares were called into the stadium. Fans burned their once beloved Browns merchandise.

It was absolute BEDLAM.

The Browns drowned in the angry seas of emotion swirling around them as their owner basking in Baltimore.

They would go on to lose nine of their next ten and a season of HOPE was stamped out. However, during the last home game on 12/17/95, the players rallied and played INSPIRED football to give their fans a one last victory to thank them for all their SUPPORT over the years. They defeated their cross state rival, the Cincinnati Bengals 26-10.

At the end of the game, the players said goodbye to the “Dawg Pound”. They jumped into the stands and hugged the fans they LOVED so dearly. Offensive lineman Steve Everitt was consumed by the fans and they didn’t want to let him go. He said, “People just wanted pieces of tape, bloody sweaty pieces of jersey, people wanted SOMETHING to hold on to. I remember just losing it.”

One of the storied franchises in NFL history were NO MORE.

Bill Bechick was fired and most of his staff was retained by the newly dubbed, Baltimore Ravens.  Browns legend, Ozzie Newsome became the GM for owner Art Modell.  Ray Lewis would be drafted by Baltimore on a pick they inherited from the now defunct Cleveland Browns.

Football did come back to Cleveland in ’99, but just one year later the “Old Browns” won the Super Bowl. The “New Browns” have only had two winning seasons since and one playoff appearance which ended with an EPIC collapse.

But all Cleveland fans have to live with WHAT IF……the Browns NEVER would they have won a Super Bowl under Bill Belichick?

Probably….

 

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