NFL Fans love winners.
That´s why bandwagons are so large.
As soon as a team starts winning, fans want to jump on.
Some stay for just a winning season.
Other teams threaten to create a dynasty and fans buckle in for the long haul.
If you were at a critical age, perhaps you became a lifelong fan of a team that makes no sense.
— 1970s NFL (@1970sNFL) August 27, 2017
When the New York Giants moved to New Jersey in the 1970s, I could see Giants Stadium from my house.
But most of my classmates and friends wore Dallas Cowboy caps and shirts rather than Giants gear.
The Cowboys won enough games back then to be dubbed “America´s Team.”
The Steel Curtain won over my cousins who never lived farther north than Georgia.
Millions of long-distance Patriots fans are confused now that Tom Brady lines up in Tampa Bay.
Before the last Super Bowl, 49ers colors from a bandwagon era gone by found their way out of drawers and boxes.
Patrick Mahomes has the keys to the Kansas City Chiefs bandwagon and expects to fill it before long.
Orange and Brown is the New Bandwagon Colors
Before any of those teams smelled success, the NFL had the Cleveland Browns.
Cleveland dominated the short-lived All American Football League.
But no one expected an AAFL team to win many NFL games.
Cleveland won enough to walk away with the NFL Championship in their first season.
There was a time when the Browns owned the biggest and fullest bandwagon.
The Cleveland Browns rolled their bandwagon out of the garage last season.
The Cleveland Browns have officially been eliminated from 2019 playoff contention. pic.twitter.com/7rraM9XA2u
— FOX Sports: NFL (@NFLonFOX) December 22, 2019
But it stalled on the driveway.
Now it has a new battery, fresh oil, and a new paint job.
It stands ready to carry a new wave of Browns Bandwagon fans.
Of course, the real fans who bled orange and brown during these middling years will spot the newbies immediately.
Real fans know the Browns are more than a team about to break out.
They are rich in history that includes more than losing.
True Cleveland Browns fans can probably answer these questions without my help.
1. Who Scored the First 2-Point Conversion in NFL History?
Well, they didn´t call him “Two-Point Tupa” for nothing.
Cleveland Browns punter Tom Tupa ran into the end zone with a fake extra-point attempt in 1994.
— #TodayInSports (@TodayInSports3) September 4, 2018
It was the first successful 2-point conversion in NFL history.
Tupa repeated the feat twice more that season to earn his moniker.
In 1994, extra points were still kicked from the 2-yard line.
Now that the NFL attempts 33-yard extra points, it is unlikely any holder tries three fakes in a season again.
At least, not with the intention of running the ball across for the score.
2. Who Opened a Season With 5 Different Game Outcomes?
There are five ways a team can finish an NFL game.
They can win, lose, or tie.
Or, they can win in overtime or lose in overtime.
Football fans had low expectations of the 2018 Browns team.
After all, they were coming off a 1-31 stretch and retained the head coach who got them there.
But they showed a lot of fight coming out of the gates.
Emmanuel Ogbah #90, Britton Colquitt #4, celebrate with Greg Joseph after his 37 yd FG with 2 sec left in OT to beat the Ravens on 10-7-2018.
My first NFL shoot, and page 1 sports print.@Browns #Browns #EmmanuelOgbah #ClevelandBrowns pic.twitter.com/G2qyHsqepI
— Mike Payne (@sportsMPP62) August 27, 2019
Cleveland played the hated Pittsburgh Steelers to a 21-21 tie in the season opener.
Then they lost by a field goal to another playoff-level team, the New Orleans Saints.
Week 3 brought the lowly Jets to Cleveland and the Browns won their first game 21-17.
They scored the 1-1-1 trifecta.
But then they dropped a memorable 45-42 decision in Oakland in overtime.
And returned to Cleveland to edge the Baltimore Ravens 12-9… in overtime.
The “quinfecta”… all five possible outcomes in five games to start a season.
If another team ever accomplished that feat, I can´t find the record.
3. Has a Cleveland Brown Ever Graced the Madden Cover?
In the early days of the video game craze, legendary coach John Madden threw his name on a football game.
Madden Football took on a life of its own and is currently the gold standard of electronic and internet sports games.
Eddie George of the Houston Oilers (now the Tennessee Titans) put his face on the first edition.
It is considered an honor to have your likeness chosen to grace the cover of a Madden game.
Madden 2015 carried the likeness of Browns wide receiver, Odell Beckham Jr.
THE PEOPLE'S PLAYMAKER.
— Madden NFL 20 (@EAMaddenNFL) May 13, 2015
But OBJ was in a Giants uniform that season.
Since 2001, 20 players from 15 NFL teams made the Madden cut.
That means 17 teams never put a player on a Madden cover.
Cleveland is not one of them.
How come we don’t talk about the fact that Peyton Hillis was on the cover of madden 12 more. pic.twitter.com/8vZwuyYDSX
— Matt Dennis (@matty_ice720) May 12, 2018
Peyton Hillis picked up 1654 yards from scrimmage in 2010 for the Cleveland Browns.
He wore the orange and brown in 2011 in Cleveland and in video games across America.
Unfortunately, Hillis is considered an example of the legendary “Madden Curse.”
He played in only 10 games that season and moved on to his third team in 4 years by 2012.
4. Who Scored the “New” Browns First Rushing Touchdown?
When Cleveland returned to the NFL in 1999, their roster included few standouts.
Running back Karim Abdul-Jabbar led the league in rushing touchdowns for Miami once.
But his efforts in 1999 didn´t earn him a new contract… with anybody.
There was nobody to remind Browns fans of the elite rushing attack of their last championship team.
14 years with the Browns, 305/363 field goals for 84%. Phil Dawson! pic.twitter.com/Ot8Iu8eSWX
— CST Throwback (@CST_Throwback) April 8, 2019
So who scored the new Browns first rushing touchdown?
Terry Kirby finished the season with 6 rushing touchdowns.
But Phil Dawson scored the first one.
Dawson went on to score the second-most points in overall Browns history… as a kicker.
But early in the 1999 season, Dawson took a pitch from punter/holder Chris Gardocki on a fake field goal.
Dawson beat a pack of stunned defenders to the end zone for a 4-yard rushing touchdown.
The Browns kicker finished his run in Cleveland with 1271 points, second only to Lou Groza´s 1608.
5. What is the Most Successful Sports Franchise in Cleveland History?
When people talk about winning sports franchises, the Cleveland Browns don´t usually come up.
In fact, the whole city of Cleveland escapes mention.
It took Lebron James several attempts and a miracle comeback to break the 52-year old drought for the city.
The Indians last won a world series in 1946.
But at least they have an entertaining movie that lets them dream of another.
The Cleveland Browns are one of four NFL teams without a single Super Bowl appearance.
When the team lost three AFC Championship games in 4 years, it looked like destiny.
But before the Super Bowl came about, there were still NFL championships.
1964 NFL Championship game, Cleveland Stadium 12/27/64 – Cleveland Browns 27, Baltimore Colts 0. You can still see baseball diamond & lines pic.twitter.com/SdehLsZUxo
— Old-Time Baseball Photos (@OTBaseballPhoto) January 7, 2017
And the Cleveland Browns won a bunch of them.
Besides winning all four championships in the AAFL.
Cleveland won the 1950 NFL Championship in their first season in the league.
But they weren´t finished.
Cleveland also won the NFL titles in 1954, 1955, and 1964.
Their 8 combined championships rank them among the top ten championship teams in the country.
Even if you discount their AAFL run, the Browns four NFL championship makes them Cleveland´s most successful sports franchise.