Cleveland Sports “The Heartbreaking History”

My friend George, who is the biggest Browns fan I know came to me with an idea for an article.  The idea was to cover the negative history of sports teams in Cleveland.  I took that Idea and turned it into what you are about to read.  George, this is for you brother!

Cleveland has a history of bad luck and heartbreaking defeats when it comes to its sports franchises.  From the “Fumble” to Lebron’s “Decision”.  There have also been some incredible times for Cleveland’s sports franchises, however the bad far out way the good.  Cleveland is a city that loves it’s sports, unfortunately sports gods do not care for Cleveland very much.  I am going to take you on a trip through the history of Cleveland sports.  So sit back, relax and revel in Cleveland’s sorrows.

Cleveland Cavaliers

Michael Jordan celebrating the “Shot”
(Getty Images)

The Cleveland Cavs have had many Horrible season.  The team has held the franchise record for most loses in a season with 67, twice.  The first came in their inaugural season of 1970-71 and the second  during the 1981-82 season.   The team made a strong run in 1989 only to fall hard to Michael Jordan and the Chicago Bulls.  The game became known for the “Shot”, it was the final game in round one of the Eastern Conference playoffs.  The moment was considered one of the greatest clutch moments in the history of Michael Jordan’s career.  It was one of the worst moments in history of the Cavileers.  The Cavs have never won an NBA Title, not even with the great Lebron James.  The team has only made one trip to the NBA Finals, in 2007 the Cavs were swept by the San Antonio Spurs in 4 games.  The City has Lebron James to blame for one of their many horrible moments.  In 2010 Lebron had an ESPN special live from a Boys and Girls Club in his home town of Akron, Oh.  Many thought because of the location he would be announcing that he would be staying in Cleveland.  He instead announced he would be taking his talents to South Beach and play for the Miami Heat.  That infamous broadcast is known as the “Decision” The City was in an uproar and Lebron jerseys were quickly being thrown away and even burned in the streets of the City who’s heart he broke.  The team followed up the “Decision” with one of the worst seasons in the history of the NBA.  The team lost a record tying 26 games in a row in the 2010-11 season.  The Cavs are 2 years removed from that fateful night and have never been able to get over it.  The team may be destined to dwell in the sadness that is Cleveland sports forever.

Cleveland Indians

The Indians lose to the Marlins in Game 7 of the 1997 World Series
(Getty Images)

The Indians are one of the teams that have been successful at times but have had more bad seasons than good ones.  The team has two World Series Championships.  The first came in 1920 and the most recent was back in 1948.  The Indians have added to the cities history of heartbreak over the years.   From 1960-1993 the team never made the playoffs and spent most of their seasons in last place.  In 1995 the Indians were one of the best teams in the MLB, until they made it to the World Series and lost to the Braves in 6 games.  The team made another trip to the World Series in 1997.  The tribe lost the series to the Florida Marlins in a devastating late inning Game 7 affair in Miami.  The team has been through countless rebuilding periods, all with no success.  The team was even featured as lovable losers and misfits in the major motion picture “Major League”.  The Indians are only second to one other team in the city of heart break, The Cleveland Browns.

Cleveland Browns

The Browns Earnest Byner seconds after the “Fumble”
(Getty Images)

The city’s most devastating stories and moments have come from their football team, the Browns.  The team had early success in the 1950’s and 1960’s.  The Hall Of Fame Quarterback Otto Graham led the team to ten straight championship games with the Browns winning 7 of them.  The team found great success with Hall Of Fame running back Jim Brown.  Brown played with the team in the 60’s and 70’s and established himself as one of the best running backs in the history of the NFL.  The 1980’s brought the team some success. Led by their young quarterback Bernie Kosar, the team made it to the AFC Championship game twice.  Both meetings were against the rival Denver Broncos and their superstar QB John Elway.  The first of those championship meetings came in the 1986 AFC Championship game.  The Browns were leading the Broncos and had them pinned down on their own 2 yard line with 5 minutes and 11 seconds to play.  John Elway was about to show the world that he was one of the best of that era with the “Drive”.  Elway led his team all of the way down the field to score a touchdown and tie the game at 20-20.  The damage had been done and Cleveland lost the game 23-20 in overtime.  The “Drive” took place in Cleveland but that wasn’t the last quotable game to take place at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium.  In the 1987 AFC Championship Game the Broncos came into town again.  This time the Browns dominated the Broncos for most of the game and looked to be the AFC Champions.  Then the unthinkable happened again, this moment was to be known as the “Fumble”.   With the game tied 30-30 Kosar and the Browns were on the Broncos 8 yard line with 1 minute and 12 seconds left on the clock.  Kosar took the snap and handed the ball off to running back Earnest Byner for what looked like and open touchdown run.  Out of nowhere came the Broncos defensive back Jeremiah Castille who stripped Byner of the ball. The Broncos took the intentional safety and ended up scoring a touchdown with less than a minute to play in the game.  The Broncos defeated the Browns by a score of 38-33.  The city of Cleveland has never fully recovered from the “Drive” or the “Fumble”.  In 1995 The Browns played their final game in Cleveland before owner Art Modell moved the team to Baltimore to become the Ravens.  Modell claimed that he moved the team because he was losing money and could not keep the team the city without a new stadium.  He petitioned for a new stadium for years and saw a new ballpark go up and a new arena be constructed while he was left without tax payer support and a dilapidated stadium.  The Browns would return in 1999 as an expansion team but still had rights to the history of the team unlike other cities who lost their teams and history like Houston.  The “new” Browns have only made it to the playoffs once.  There was hope for the team with new ownership to turn things around in 2012.  The Browns were shut out of the playoffs for another season this year.

All of Cleveland’s major sports teams have gone through hardships. The Browns are by far Cleveland’s most heartbreaking team with a history that will not let the fans of Cleveland rest easy.  Any time something goes well for any of their teams disappointment is sure to follow.  Maybe one day the sports gods will treat the great fans of Cleveland to some success and happiness.

*UPDATE*

The Cleveland Cavaliers defeated the Golden State Warriors in game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals to become NBA Champions for the first time in their history.  They also ended the decades long championship drought for the city of Cleveland.  This event was aided by LeBron James returning to Cleveland in 2014.

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10 responses to “Cleveland Sports “The Heartbreaking History”

  1. Steven Jeffries

    Reblogged this on stevenjeffries and commented:
    Man, some real “Dawg days” in Cleveland! An entertaining story here!

  2. I want to cry right now. Don’t forget about the past decade for the Browns! After coming back from being SOLD (thats another one), they have been terrible. Let’s look at some high draft picks: Gerrard Warren, Tim Couch, William Green, Courtney Brown, Brady Quinn, Kamerion Wimbley, Charlie Frye….where are those guys now??? How about when we drafter Kellen Winslow and he decides to crush his legs in a motorcycle accident before the season? Braylon Edwards broke his leg in one of his first games as a rookie against the Jags. The Browns got one good season out of him and now hes gone…..same thing with Peyton Hillis. How about when Dwayne Rudd took his helmet off on the last play right before the Browns beat the chiefs and the refs threw a flag….you’re not allowed to end the game on a penalty…welp, the Chiefs ended up winning on the next play. What about the pro bowl center, LeCharles Bentley we got from N.O.? He comes to Cleveland and shreds his knee the first year. During his recovery he gets a staff infection, almost loses his leg, and his career is over. What about Orlando Brown (Zues)? The 6-7 360 pound beast of a tackle who was highly hyped coming into the league…..well, he get accidentally hit in the eye with a penalty flag at the end of a play and almost went blind in that eye. To add insult to injury, he decided to attack the ref and get suspended. A PENALTY FLAG IN THE EYE!? Let’s talk about this season real quick…..our stud nose tackle, Phil Taylor, who we drafted in the 1st round last year, rips a pectoral muscle in the off season and is out for the entire 2012-2013 season. Starting linebacker Chris Gocong got injured during training camp and is out for the season. Oh, and our #3 overall pick from this years draft, Trent Richardson, just had knee surgery and won’t even play in the preseason. How does that happen? Rant over.

    • eat points, I wanted to keep it condensed a bit so I left out some of what you brought up. I agree it is one of the worst bad luck franchises ever. Great comment and thanks for reading

  3. What an amazing article Justin! Gut wrenching if you’re a fan of Cleveland, a great read if you’re just a fan…

  4. I’m so depressed now, and I’m a Yankees fan. Seriously, great piece.

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