THE OPTION | Will the Browns Ever be Good Again?

If History is to Be Believed, the Answer is No.

The Cleveland Browns are the worst team in American sports but this wasn't always the case.

And no, this is not hyperbole. The trouble started back in the mid-eighties when the Browns were still a respectable franchise. Their owner, Art Modell, was having some financial issues. Back when he was making money, Modell bought $625,000 worth of land, a plot for a newly renovated stadium. He purchased this land via his company Stadium Corp, which owned the Browns' arena at the time.

Unfortunately for Modell, his fortune took a turn for the worse and to ameliorate his debt, he sold the land back to Stadium Corp for $3 million. Then, he sold Stadium Corp itself to the Cleveland Browns, which he also owned, for $6 million. His partner later sued him, and Modell was forced to reverse the deal. With a damaged reputation, Modell and his team absconded to Baltimore in 1996, leaving a football-starved Cleveland behind. After a three year hiatus, the Cleveland Browns were resurrected in 1999, but the new team was, in a word, horrible. While Modell's Baltimore Ravens went on to win the Super Bowl in 2001, the new Cleveland Browns started an era of unprecedented struggle.

Since their reintroduction to the league 19 years years ago, the Browns are a pitiful 88-216 in the regular season. They've only had a winning record twice and have only made the playoffs once (they lost in the first round to Pittsburgh) during that span. Over the past few decades, the team has become something of a running joke, the expectant last place finishers in a league that's specifically designed for parity, giving weaker franchises an advantage during the draft and imposing the same salary cap on every team. Realistically, over the course of two decades, the Browns should have lucked into a decent team, but while they've had some standout players like Josh Gordon and Peyton Hillis, the latter of which suffered the full ramifications of the Madden Curse, the Browns haven't been able to put together any sustained success. Here are some numbers to put things into perspective:

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