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The Grumpy Gambler compares the Old Cleveland Browns vs the New Browns for the NFL Week 14 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens

Why One of These Things is Not Like the Other

Looking over the week 14 slate of NFL Games, two matchups jumped out at me. First there’s Sunday’s tilt between the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns and then there’s Monday night’s matchup of the LA Rams vs the Arizona Cardinals.

Both games are chock full of history. There’s the Ravens who used to be the Browns versus the Browns who are now currently the Browns.

In the other game you have two teams who used to be the football franchise in St. Louis and have a history dating back to 1937, when the Cardinals were located in Chicago and the Rams were located in, you guessed it, Cleveland.

I think there’s a good probability the Rams and Cardinals may see each other again in the playoffs, so I’m going to save that story for a later date and today we’ll focus on Ravens vs Browns or Old Browns vs New Browns.

Old Browns/Ravens vs New Browns/Browns

When most people look at the Baltimore Ravens Cleveland Browns game, they see just another game and wonder whether the Browns will cover the spread as -2.5-point favorites at home or whether Lamar Jackson will finally get his head out of his ass and lead the Ravens to the cover and potentially a straight up win. On a side note, Lamar Jackson is the starting QB in my fantasy football league and he has totally screwed me the past few weeks. But I digress, back to Browns vs Browns.

You see for me this game will always be the Old Cleveland Browns vs the New Cleveland Browns. That’s right, the Baltimore Ravens are the Cleveland Browns, and the Cleveland Browns are well some new team that came along in 1999 and are now the New Cleveland Browns.

It’s kind of like KFC Original Recipe vs KFC Crispy Chicken or Original Coke vs New Coke, just in this case we have Old Browns vs New Browns.

Apologies to The Who, but in this case The New Browns are not the same as The Old Browns and unfortunately for everyone in Cleveland, just like KFC and Coke, the Original is much better.

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‘The Move’

Stop me if you’ve heard this story…

Ok I’ll keep going. You see there was this guy named Art Modell who owned the Cleveland Browns and was kind of a prick. Anyway, Modell and the city of Cleveland couldn’t come to terms on a new stadium so during the 1995 season he moved the team to Baltimore.  This is cleverly termed by Browns fans as ‘The Move.’

Why is everything in Cleveland Browns history called ‘The’ something? The Move, The Drive, The Fumble. I mean come on people, can’t you come up with anything better to describe three of the worst things that ever happened to your NFL franchise?

Anyway, thanks to Art Modell (did I mention he was a prick?) it was goodbye Cleveland Browns who had been a franchise since 1944 named after original coach and co-founder Paul Brown. Paul F’ing Brown. A legend. And Art Modell just shat on all of that history and the NFL said yeah sure that’s fine.

Of course, Modell, who took over control of the Browns franchise in 1961, fired legendary coach Paul Brown in 1963, another thing he’s hated for in Cleveland, so why stop there. Let’s really fuck over everyone in Cleveland and move the team to Baltimore.

So, Modell moved the team to Baltimore and the Ravens were established in 1996. He was allowed by the NFL to retain all the contracts with players and football personnel and simply change the name of his corporation from Cleveland Browns, Inc to Baltimore Ravens, Inc.

Meanwhile Cleveland was left with no team, no players, no nothing.

So, what did Cleveland Get Out of This Fiasco?

Well Modell was required to leave the Browns’ name, history, team colors, and records in Cleveland and the NFL agreed to reactivate the Cleveland Browns team either through expansion or another team moving from their current home to Cleveland that would resume play in 1999.

He can move the team and leave behind all the loserness the Browns had been associated with over the years from the John Elway drive to the fumble and so on? Man, Modell had to sign that agreement in a flash.

The Browns also had to agree to not establish a new franchise until 1999. They would have to wait years to become the Cleveland Browns again.

Oh, and Cleveland would have to build a new stadium before any of this could happen. So, if they had just built the damn stadium for Modell, they would still be the Original Browns, but instead Cleveland lost that team forever, had no football for years and planned to come back in 1999 with the New Browns.

Who negotiated this deal for Cleveland? Marcia Clark & Christopher Darden?

The New Cleveland Browns were almost the Cleveland Broncos/Buccaneers

That’s right, several teams including the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Denver Broncos used this opportunity as a relocation threat against their cities, but no team ever pulled the trigger and in 1998 the NFL decided the New Browns would be formed as an expansion team.

So, in 1999 the Browns were back, their 51st season overall and 47th in the NFL. But isn’t the 51-season thing a Baltimore thing now because you know this Browns team just started?

In reality yes but based on NFL semantics the New Browns are technically still the Old Browns franchise. Getting confused yet?

Quibble over the details, one thing’s for sure the 1999 Browns led by QB Tim Couch, who they drafted #1 over Donovan McNabb, Torry Holt and Hall of Famers Edgerrin James & Champ Bailey, came back to continue their tradition of loserness. Not only totally f’ing up the draft but going 2-14 in the process.

In 2000 the New Browns record was 3-13 and in 2001 they’d go 7-9. In fact, the New Browns have only three winning seasons since their return (I guess you can call it a comeback) in 1999, going 9-7 in 2002, 10-6 in 2007 and 11-5 in 2020.

How About the Old Browns?

Cleveland fans must have been thrilled when the Old Browns/Baltimore Ravens went 4-12 in 1996, 6-9-1 in 1997 and 6-10 in 1998. They were probably laughing their asses off thinking how ‘The Move’ blew up in Art Modell’s face and everyone in Baltimore could go pound sand because in 1999 the New Browns of Cleveland were going back to the Super Bowl!

Oh, wait the Browns had never been to the Super Bowl. Mostly thanks to some guy named John Elway.

Well, the New Browns have still never gone to the Super Bowl. But they do have two playoff appearances since 1999, making it twice as Wild Cards.

You know who has been to the Super Bowl? That’s right, the Old Browns/Baltimore Ravens.

Since stumbling around in their first few seasons the Old Browns have gone on to make the playoffs THIRTEEN TIMES, and won the Super Bowl TWICE, beating the NY Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV and San Francisco 34-31 in Super Bowl XLVII.

Yeah, I guess they’re not laughing in Cleveland anymore.

Well after all that, Art Modell ended up dying on September 6, 2012, so maybe there was some laughing on that day. I guess Cleveland got their revenge when they were the only NFL team to neither acknowledge or commemorate his death during their game the following Sunday. Way to go Cleveland. That’s one for the home team.

What does any of this mean for today’s matchup up between the Old Browns and the New Browns from a wagering standpoint, I have no idea. But it was fun to reminisce, wasn’t it? Well maybe not for anyone in Cleveland who’s reading this…

RIP Demaryius Thomas

Before this week’s picks, I’d like to take a moment to send my condolences on the passing of Demaryius Thomas. Not only was he a great wide receiver. He was a great man. We need more people like Mr. Thomas in this World. He will be missed.

Grumpy’s Pick(s) of the Week

After going 2-0 last week, I’m back to try and get my season record back above the Mendoza line.

My first pick is all about the line. The Panthers have been up and down at home, they don’t have Christian McCaffrey and Cam Newton is their QB. And they’re favored? Give me the fighting Superman’s -2- over Atlanta.

Another team from Cali invades Paul Brown Stadium for the second straight week this Sunday. You remember Paul Brown; he was the one that prick Art Modell fired as Cleveland Browns coach in 1963. Well, he went on to found the Cincinnati Bengals in 1968 and become their first coach. Take that Modell.

The Niners are 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in games east of the Mississippi this year, beating the Jaguars, Bears, Lions and Eagles. Oh My! Not exactly the cream of the NFL crop.

This is the third straight game at home for Cincy and the second on the road for the Niners. I think Burrow and the Bengals get it done so I’ll take Cincy +2.

Lastly, I’ll take the Broncos -10 at home versus the Detroit Lions. The Lions finally won their first game of the season. That streak ends today.

If you’d like to check out the game, total and props lines head over to the NFL Pro Football league page on The Props Network

Enjoy week 14. I hope you are fortunate.