The Cleveland Browns Are Founded
The Cleveland Browns were founded in 1944 by owner Arthur 'Mickey' McBride and head coach (and Ohio coaching legend) Paul Brown and started play in 1946.
At the time, Cleveland was home to the 1945 NFL champion Cleveland Rams, led by the NFL's hottest star, MVP quarterback Bob Waterfield, who was married to star actress Jane Russell. However, fans supported the Browns over the Rams from the moment they were created, and the Rams ended up fleeing to Los Angeles before the Browns had ever played a game.
The franchise conducted a team naming contest in 1945. The most popular submission was "Browns" in recognition of Paul Brown, already an established and popular figure in Ohio sports. Brown at first objected to the name and the team selected from the contest entries the name "Panthers." However, after an area businessman informed the team that he owned the rights to the name Cleveland Panthers from an earlier failed football team, Brown rescinded his objection and agreed to the use of his name.
As a franchise, the Browns were immediately successful. Dominating the new All-America Football Conference, the Browns won all four league championships, including the 1948 season in which they became the first pro football team to finish the season and playoffs unbeaten and untied - 24 years before the NFL's first perfect team, the 1972 Miami Dolphins. Cleveland's undefeated streak (including ties) reached 29 games, including 18 straight wins. In an effort to increase league parity, the Browns were forced to relinquish the rights to some of their younger players, such as quarterback Y.A. Tittle, who went to the Baltimore Colts in 1948.