Reading is Fundamental – Browns edition
Today we’re passing along some book recommendations for Browns fans.
Some of these books may no longer be in print, but if you can find a copy it will be well worth your time:*
- Sundays in the Pound: The Heroics and Heartbreak of the 1985-89 Cleveland Browns by Jonathan Knight: (This book) traces quarterback Bernie Kosar’s winding path from Youngstown to Florida to Cleveland, explains why there was so much more to running back Earnest Byner than one unforgotten fumble, and reveals how cornerback Hanford Dixon created a canine phenomenon in the end zone stands that has persevered to this day. Knight delves into the Drive and the Fumble; examines the fairy-tale performance of an aging veteran quarterback who directed the Browns through the snow and into the playoffs in his final game at the old, cavernous Cleveland Stadium; and recounts an epic playoff saga in which the Browns staged one of the greatest comebacks in the history of Cleveland sports.
- When all the World was Browns Town: Cleveland’s Browns and the Championship Season of ’64 by Terry Pluto: The 1964 Browns were truly Cleveland’s team; Terry Pluto recreates this ear with the words, thoughts and reflections of the men – Jim Brown, Frank Ryan, Dick Modzelewski and Bernie Parrish, among others – for whom team pride was not just a slogan, and who gave their all for themselves, for their teammates and for the fans who loved them.
- Classic Browns: The 50 Greatest Games in Cleveland Browns History by Jonathan Knight: Classic Browns counts down the 50 greatest Cleveland Browns games, from unexpected upsets to incredible comebacks to titanic championship battles. The rich, six-decade history of the Browns is layered into these tales, tying together the gritty All-American Football Conference games played in the shadow of World War II to the sleek Sunday battles at shimmering Cleveland Browns Stadium today. Knight ranks heartbreakers like The Fumble and The Drive alongside championship duels and epic confrontations with heated rivals. Included in these pages are the heroics of Browns legends like Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Jim Brown, Brian Sipe and Bernie Kosar to name just a few. Whether it was because of the score, the weather, or an amazing individual performance, each game included in Classic Browns is worth remembering and revisiting.
- False Start: How the New Browns were set up to Fail by Terry Pluto: It was supposed to be the dawn of a grand new era of football in Cleveland. Instead, it was a rude wakeup call. When the new Cleveland Browns took the field in 1999, legions of loyal fans—once heartsick, abandoned, and disgusted at the loss of their team in 1995—were ready to forgive the past and embrace the future . . . a new owner, a new team, a new stadium. They just wanted their Browns back. They didn’t get what they bargained for. In the five years since a new team called the Browns arrived to play on Cleveland’s lakefront, this has become clear: Browns fans got a bum deal. The NFL traded one of the most storied teams in football history for a franchise mired in mediocrity. These were the fans who, after owner Art Modell skipped town with their beloved Browns, became the only fans ever to take on the NFL, demand their team back—and win. Yet while they were celebrating the supposed victory that kept “our name, our colors, our team” in Cleveland, fans should have been looking over their shoulders and keeping a close watch on the NFL. There would be few reasons to celebrate in the years to come.
- Kardiac Kids: The Story of the 1980 Cleveland Browns by Jonathan Knight: In Kardiac Kids, Jonathan Knight paints a portrait of the Browns storybook 1980 season and its impact on the city of Cleveland. Knight takes us through that unforgettable year from beginning to end, describing in great detail how the city simply fell in love with this team. It was the year long-suffering Cleveland sports fans finally had something to be proud of. Tickets were at a premium, players were pursued like rock stars and songs were written about their on-field heroics.
- On Being Brown: What it Means to Be a Cleveland Browns Fan by Scott Huler: What is this madness all about? Ask anyone who has experienced it: being a Cleveland Browns fan is just different. Scott Huler looks at this 50-year love affair between town and team in 33 essays recounting his personal saga of “becoming Brown.” Searching out those special elements of shared experience that define what being a Browns fan has meant for us all, he also holds conversations with the true legends of Cleveland Browns history – Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Lou “The Toe” Groza, Brian Sipe, Ozzie Newsome and others – in which they share their own thoughts about just what made this relationship between town and team so special. This odyssey for Browns fans takes them back to some wonderful places. It revives some truly awful moments. And it looks to the future with great hope. Those who are truly Brown will enjoy the ride.
- Cleveland Browns History by Frank M. Henkel: There was little fanfare when Art “Mickey” McBride flew into Chicago in 1945 to purchase a professional football team for Cleveland. But that act set in motion a tradition that has brought the city of Cleveland together on Sunday afternoons for (most of) the 60 years to follow. Cleveland Browns History is the story of championship seasons, legendary coaches and Hall of Fame players. Coach Paul Brown led his teams to seven league title games in their first 17 seasons. Running backs Marion Motley, Jim Brown and Leroy Kelley each rushed over opposing defenses and straight into Canton, Ohio, along with fellow Browns like Otto Graham, Ozzie Newsome and Len Ford. The Kardiac Kids in 1980 had too many nail-biters for some fans, but won the AFC Central in typical fashion – by three points in the final game of the season. All these stories, plus those of the many unsung heroes to don the NFL’s only logo-less helmet, fill the pages of this book, sure to delight any Cleveland Browns fan.
- Things I’ve Learned from Watching the Browns by Terry Pluto: Here’s a question for any Browns fan … Why? Why, more than four long decades after your team’s last championship … despite a relentless pattern of heartbreak, teasing, and more heartbreak … capped with a decade of utter futility … do you still stick with the Cleveland Browns? Good question. Veteran sportswriter Terry Pluto gets a daily barrage of e-mail from fans letting their hearts bleed out orange and brown. So he decided to ask his readers: Just what is it about this team that makes you love them, hate them and still keep coming back for more? A thousand fans responded – in detail. Their stories – along with interviews with former players and Pluto’s own expert analysis – deliver the answer. Answers, actually. Because like any intense relationship, it’s a little complicated … Covering the Browns from 1964 through present day, this book does for Cleveland football what Pluto’s classic about the Indians, The Curse of Rocky Colavito, did for Cleveland baseball: It won’t make the pain go away, but it might help you remember why it’s worth enduring.
- Glory for Sale: Fans, Dollars and the New NFL by Jon Morgan: Morgan, a sports business writer for the Baltimore Sun, believes the major factor behind the flight of professional football franchises from city to city is stadium economics. Items such as skyboxes, retractable roofs, concession contracts, and scoreboard advertising have replaced fan allegiance and municipal loyalty as the deciding issues in the relocation of teams. To illustrate his case, he chronicles in dollar-by-dollar detail the recent move of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore, an event determined in the end by the highest bidder. Like the league he targets, this study is more business than sport and thus is likely to frustrate traditional fans who cringe at the commingling of the two. Though the message he delivers may be depressing, it is also necessary for developing an understanding of today’s NFL. (summary courtesy of Library Journal)
- Fumble! The Browns, Modell and the Move: An Insider’s Story by Michael G. Poplar: The author is the former executive vice president-treasurer of Cleveland Stadium Corp, a company formed by Browns owner Art Modell, to operate the stadium under a 25-year lease with the City of Cleveland. The book “Fumble !” chronicles the difficulties that went with operating the aging and obsolete city-owned stadium, as the writer describes from the many diaries and transaction summaries which he maintained since 1975. Along with the interesting tales of the conditions of the building and the other interesting events held there, Poplar also weaves in 20 years of Browns football memories under five head coaches … ranging from Forrest Gregg in 1975 through the end of the reign of Bill Belichick in 1996. The book is sure to rekindle fond memories of those exciting Kardiac Kids finishes, and the not-so-memorable climaxes, including the Drive and the Fumble, along with the terminations of those five head coaches.
If you do decide to check one of these out, you won’t be disappointed. And remember to shop at your local bookstore. If you don’t have one in your area and are in the Hudson area, it’s worth a stop at The Learned Owl.
*Summaries are all taken from the individual book jackets, except where noted.
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