The year was 1964. Quarterback Frank Ryan was flanked by wide receivers Gary Collins and Paul Warfield. In the backfield stood one of the greatest NFL players to ever live: Jim Brown. The Cleveland Browns won the NFL Championship, defeating head coach Don Shula, quarterback Johnny Unitas, and the Baltimore Colts, 27-0. That was the last time the Browns won an NFL championship.
Things haven’t been great in Cleveland since. The franchise’s last playoff appearance was 2002. Their last division title was 1989. The Browns have had two winning seasons since 1999.
In 2018, the winds of change are blowing across Lake Erie. There’s a different vibe following Cleveland’s winless 0-16 campaign in 2017; let’s be honest, it can’t get any worse. Right?
HBO chose the northeast Ohio city as its subject for this season of their documentary series; “Hard Knocks: Training Camp with the Cleveland Browns” will premier August 7 on HBO.
The network released another official trailer for the new season, and it offers the passion and excitement oozing out of Cleveland, Ohio ahead of this season.
Following a dismal 2017 season, Cleveland chose to retain head coach Hue Jackson despite a two-year, 1-31 coaching record. The organization did splash in free agency, when they traded for Pro Bowl wide receiver Jarvis Landry and subsequently signed him to a five-year, $75 million contract extension. Pairing Landry and a revitalized Josh Gordon gives Cleveland receiving weapons they haven’t had in years past.
A young defense led by Myles Garrett and new defensive back Denzel Ward projects to be one of the NFL’s best units. Add into the mix running backs Carlos Hyde and rookie Nick Chubb, and you’ve got a recipe to for a balanced offensive attack. Now, throw into the mix veteran starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor and No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield, and you’re looking at a recipe for either a solid future, or one heck of a great story.
Either way, HBO plans to capitalize on every piece of this Cleveland drama with ‘Hard Knocks.’
Five teams to appear on a season of ‘Hard Knocks’ have gone on to make the playoffs. Coincidentally, three of those teams played in Cleveland’s AFC North division (the Baltimore Ravens in 2001 and Cincinnati Bengals in 2009 and 2013).
The Cleveland Browns are on the verge of the NFL spotlight shining down on their franchise. If ever there was a time to overthrow the curses of the past, 2018 would be the year to do it. The pieces are in place for the biggest turnaround in pro football history. All that’s left is to look inside training camp with ‘Hard Knocks’ to see how the culture is changing.
Then again, it is the Cleveland Browns.