The Cleveland Browns are a professional Football team based in Cleveland, Ohio. They are currently members of the North Division of the American Football Conference (AFC) in the National Football League (NFL). The team began play in 1946 as a charter member of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) and joined the NFL in 1950 after the AAFC folded.
Cleveland has won a total of eight league championships. They won all four AAFC titles (including a 15-0 undefeated season in 1948), and after joining the NFL won four additional championships prior to the league’s merger with the American Football League (AFL) in 1970. Following the merger, the Browns were one of three NFL teams which joined the ten former AFL teams to form the new American Football Conference. Despite having the sixth-highest winning percentage of all NFL franchises, the Browns have not played in a league championship game since the merger; however, they have competed for the AFC Championship three times.
Having lost all three games, along with two NFL Championship Games of the Super Bowl era prior to the merger (in 1968 and 1969), Cleveland is one of four NFL teams that has yet to reach the Super Bowl. Furthermore, Cleveland has never hosted a Super Bowl, making it the only NFL city to have neither hosted nor sent a team to the Super Bowl.
Perhaps the most visible Browns fans are those that can be found in the Dawg Pound. Originally the name for the bleacher section located in the open (east) end of old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, the current incarnation of is likewise located in the east end of Cleveland Browns Stadium and still features hundreds of orange and brown clad fans sporting various canine-related paraphernalia. The fans adopted that name in 1984 after members of the Browns defense used it to describe the team’s defense.
Retired cornerback Hanford Dixon, who played his entire career for the Browns (1981/1989), is credited with naming the Cleveland Browns defense ‘The Dawgs’ in the mid-80’s. Dixon and fellow teammates Frank Minnifield, and Eddie Johnson would bark at each other and to the fans in the bleachers at the Cleveland Stadium to fire them up. It was from Dixon’s naming that the Dawg Pound subsequently took its title. The fans adopted that name in the years after ; The most prominent organization of Browns fans is the Browns Backers Worldwide (BBW). The organization has approximately 93,100 members and is considered the largest sports-fan organization in the USA, Browns Backers clubs can be found in every major city in the United States, and in a number of military bases throughout the world, with the largest club being in Phoenix, Arizona.
In addition, the organization has a sizable foreign presence in places as far away as Egypt, Australia, Japan, and Sri Lanka. According to The Official Fan Club of the Cleveland Browns, the two largest international fan clubs are in Alon Shvut and Niagara, Canada, with Alon Shvut having 129 members and Niagara having 310.
A 2006 study conducted by Bizjournal determined that Browns fans are the most loyal fans in the NFL. The study, while not scientific, was largely based on fan loyalty during winning and losing seasons, attendance at games, and challenges confronting fans (such as inclement weather or long-term poor performance of their team). The study noted that Browns fans filled 99.8% of the seats at Cleveland Browns Stadium during the last seven seasons, despite a combined record of 36 wins and 76 losses over that span.
Following Browns owner Randy Lerner’s succession of English football club Aston Villa, official Villa outlets have started selling Cleveland Browns goods such as jerseys and NFL balls. This has raised interest in England and strengthened the link between the two sporting clubs. Aston Villa supporters have set up an organization known as the Aston (Villa) Browns Backers of Birmingham.
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