Riches to Rags

In 1944, the All-America Football Conference was founded to rival the NFL following the end of World War II. When businessman Mickey McBride was awarded a franchise in Cleveland, his first move was to hire Paul Brown, a former National Championship-winning head coach at the high school and college levels, to coach the team. Brown was additionally given an ownership stake and control of player personnel. He became the team’s namesake, and the Cleveland Browns were born.

When the AAFC began its play in 1946, so did the Browns. Led by coach Paul Brown and quarterback Otto Graham, the Browns were dominant, winning four straight AAFC championships, including an undefeated campaign in 1948.

Following the 1949 season, the AAFC folded. However, the Browns joined the NFL and kept winning, reaching the NFL Championship Game in each of the next six seasons, winning three titles.