With each passing year the Cleveland Browns extend their long playoff drought, moving ever closer to two decades without an appearance.
For even the heartiest of Browns fans, it’s getting harder and harder to stay optimistic.
That’s why we have to look for positive stories that can strengthen our resolve.
While the team continues to disappoint in the win column, individual players on the Browns roster can give us hope.
Last year the team once again underperformed despite a roster filled with stars and moderately tapped potential.
However, in the midst of the chaos, running back Nick Chubb was a feel-good story.
The second-year back out of Georgia racked up 1,494 yards rushing and eight touchdowns.
Eleven years ago, when the playoff drought was only in its ninth year, another Cleveland running back gave the city a reason for believing.
— Cleveland Browns Guys (@CleveBrownsGuys) August 14, 2019
In 2009, Jerome Harrison was in his fourth year as a running back for the Browns.
As a senior at Washington State in 2005, Harrison had rushed for 1,900 yards, leading all rushers in NCAA Division I.
His breakthrough season brought him consensus All-American recognition.
— Coug Equipment (@COUG_Equipment) June 14, 2019
Despite his record numbers, he lasted until the 5th round of the 2006 draft when he was finally selected by the Browns with the 145th pick.
His career with the Browns began slowly.
In his rookie year, he played in 10 games but only rushed for 60 yards.
In the 2007 and 2008 seasons he rushed for 142 and 246 yards respectively.
In 2008, he also recorded his first career touchdowns, one rushing and one through the air.
He eventually cracked the starting lineup in 2009.
During that season, Harrison played in 14 games and started seven.
He finished the season with a career-high 862 yards and added seven touchdowns.
Although Harrison was finally coming into his own in ‘09, the Browns, as usual, were floundering.
The team didn’t crack the win column until a Week 5 game at Buffalo.
The Browns were drastically underwhelming against the Bills in spite of their 6-3 victory.
Nine weeks would pass until Cleveland added another win.
However, that Week 14 defeat of the rival Steelers began a hot streak that the Browns rode for the rest of the season.
Even better, in Week 15, Cleveland put together a game that gave their fans a glimpse of what could be.
December 20, 2009, Cleveland v. Kansas City
For fans outside the Kansas City or Cleveland area codes, this game promised to be a snooze fest.
The two franchises had five wins between them that Sunday.
No one expected anything out of the ordinary, especially from these hapless teams.
Then, the game began and the fireworks commenced.
With only five days until Christmas, the fan bases for both clubs would receive an early holiday gift.
The two teams traded scores for most of the first half.
Browns receiver and return specialist Josh Cribbs put Cleveland into a frenzy with two 100+ kickoff returns for touchdowns.
Two 100-yard kick-return TDs… Before the game even hit halftime.@JoshCribbs16 was NASTY!!
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) October 31, 2018
The score at halftime was 24-20 in favor of the Chiefs, but neither team was done putting points on the board.
With 13:27 remaining in the 3rd quarter, and the ball at the Cleveland 29 yard line, Harrison took a handoff from quarterback Brady Quinn and headed toward the middle of the line.
Finding a significant amount of daylight, he burst through the pack and rumbled 71 yards for a touchdown.
The score put the Browns ahead 27-24.
— Trevor Selby (@selby56) March 28, 2020
Both sides continued to battle back and forth with no score change until the 4th quarter.
At 12:14 of the quarter, and the Browns sitting at the Kansas City 8 yard line, Harrison took a hand off and again attacked the middle of the line.
He found success once again and scored to put the game at 34-24.
The lead appeared safe for the Browns.
However, the Chiefs were not ready to throw in the towel.
After a missed field goal failed to extend Cleveland’s lead, Kansas City added a touchdown and a field goal.
That tied the score at 34 with only 2:26 remaining in the game.
Harrison once again put the Browns on his back.
Four times he was given the ball on the team’s next drive to chew up the clock and gain precious yards.
With only 1:01 left in the contest and the ball at the KC 28, Quinn turned around and pushed the ball into Harrison’s mid-section.
Harrison took his fifth carry of the drive and crashed through the right side of the line. 28 yards later he finally stopped, in the end zone, with the game in hand 41-34.
When the smoke cleared after the game, statisticians quickly did the math.
Harrison not only played well, he ended up breaking a significant team record.
— NFL Throwback (@nflthrowback) November 4, 2018
His rushing total placed him third on the all-time single-game rushing yards list.
The good times did not end that season for Harrison.
He kept up his rushing assault and ended with 561 yards and five touchdowns in just the last three games of the season.
Better yet, Cleveland also won each of those games to end the year on a four-win streak.
After the season, the Browns inked Harrison to a one-year, $2 million contract.
With new money in hand, he was set to become the starting running back in 2010.
Unfortunately, after gaining only 91 yards in four games, Cleveland traded Harrison to the Eagles in October of 2010.
Before the 2011 season, Philly let Harrison walk and he was signed by Detroit.
The Lions attempted to trade him back to the Eagles in October of 2011.
Sadly, the following day, Philly found out Harrison had flunked his physical and the trade was voided.
As it turned out, doctors discovered that he had a brain tumor that required immediate surgery.
Thankfully, the tumor was benign, but further complications ended his career.
Harrison was never able to maintain his promising career after leaving Cleveland.
But, for one small moment, he forever left his mark in NFL history and the hearts of Browns fans.