Before I say anything else, thank you for stepping up and buying tickets for the Browns’ last home game of the season. Our players appreciate that support and agree that you (loyal Browns fans) make playing in Cleveland great.
There is a fair amount of excitement around Sunday’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals. While much of the hype is directly related to recent chapters in the “Battle of Ohio,” these teams’ enmity for each other is deep-rooted.
Decades before we had a Baker Mayfield/ Hue Jackson controversy, there were two other men who held the future of the Cleveland Browns in their hands: Cleveland’s head coach, Paul Brown, and the team’s owner, Art Modell.
From the team’s beginnings in 1946, Paul Brown was at the helm of his namesake team. As a result, the team dominated in its early days. Cleveland was a happy place and championships were almost commonplace.
In 1961, Art Modell purchased the Cleveland Browns, at the time no one would have predicted the convoluted journey the team and its fans would embark upon with Modell. In 1963, Modell fired Brown. Many close to the situation said the parting of the ways was inevitable.
Fast forward to 1968 and Paul Brown was busy creating a new professional football franchise, this time in Cincinnati, Ohio. Brown’s new team, named the Bengals, had team colors and uniforms resembling those in Cleveland. Popular opinion held that Brown was engineering a team capable of taking over the shine of the Cleveland Browns.
The AFL-NFL merger in 1970 brought the two teams into the same division, where they meet twice a season. The constant clashes between former owner and coach fueled the fire of competition between two men. This spilled over into the playing field and the “Battle of Ohio” was born.
So, when you watch the teams take the field on Sunday, remember you are seeing is much more to this game than conflict between a fired head coach and a talented young quarterback. There is a shared history and do not really like each other.
Be sure and catch CST’s pregame podcast prior to kick off and GO BROWNS!