The Cleveland Browns are a professional American football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. The Browns compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the American Football Conference (AFC) Northdivision. The Browns play their home games at FirstEnergy Stadium, which opened in 1999, with administrative offices and training facilities in Berea, Ohio. The Browns’ official colors are brown, orange and white. They are unique among the 32 member franchises of the NFL in that they do not have a logo on their helmets and are the only team named after a person, their first coach, Paul Brown.
The franchise was founded in 1945 by businessman Arthur B. McBride and coach Paul Brown as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC). The Browns dominated the AAFC, compiling a 47–4–3 record in the league’s four seasons and winning its championship in each of them. When the AAFC folded after the 1949 season, the Browns joined the National Football League along with the San Francisco 49ers and the original Baltimore Colts. The Browns won a championship in their inaugural NFL season, as well as in the 1954, 1955, and 1964 seasons, and in a feat unequaled in any of the North American major professional sports, played in their league championship game in each of the Browns’ first ten years of existence. From 1965 to 1995, they made the playoffs 14 times, but did not win another championship or appear in the Super Bowl during that period.
In 1995, owner Art Modell, who had purchased the Browns in 1961, announced plans to move the team to Baltimore, Maryland. After threats of legal action from the city of Cleveland and fans, a compromise was reached in early 1996 that allowed Modell to establish the Baltimore Ravens as a new franchise while retaining the contracts of all Browns personnel. The Browns’ intellectual property, including team name, logos, training facility, and history, were kept in trust and the franchise was regarded by the NFL as suspended, with a new team to be established by 1999 either by expansion or relocation. The Browns were announced as an expansion team in 1998 and resumed play in 1999.
Since resuming operations in 1999, the Browns have struggled to find success. They have had only two winning seasons (in 2002 and 2007), one playoff appearance (2002), and no playoff wins. The franchise has also been noted for a lack of stability with quarterbacks, having started 28 players in the position since 1999. Through the end of the 2017 season, the Browns’ win–loss record since returning to the NFL in 1999 is 88–216. In 2017, the Browns became only the second team in league history to finish a season with an 0–16 record, joining the 2008 Detroit Lions, and after the Buffalo Bills broke their 17-year playoff drought in 2017, the Browns now also hold the longest active playoff drought in the NFL, at 15 seasons.