Today’s National Football League fans and bettors know one version of the Cleveland Browns — the league’s lovable losers. There are certainly more layers to Cleveland’s history and relationship with professional football though. A list of the Top 5 players in Cleveland Browns history paints the picture of a proud and successful franchise.
It’s easy to point and laugh at the struggles the Browns have endured across recent decades. Heartbreaking playoff losses, a 1-31 record from 2016-17, and the infamous jersey. Those are just a few of the franchise’s unfortunate claims to infamy.
Long-time professional football fans and Ohioans appreciate the heights the Browns reached during their heyday. The current version has a steep hill to climb to replicate those winning ways, but if the likes of Nick Chubb and Myles Garrett can put the organization on its shoulders, they’ll reverse the “lovable loser” narrative and find themselves on future “best Cleveland Browns in history” lists.
Top 5 Players In Cleveland Browns History
No. 5 Lou Groza, LT/K
Groza played for the Cleveland Browns from 1946 to 1967, earning All-Pro honors for four consecutive seasons from 1952 to 1955. Groza’s NFL tenure predated the Super Bowl era, but he played a central role in four NFL championships. Groza entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1974 and still owns the franchise’s career scoring record.
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No. 4 Len Ford, DE
Ford spent eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns and entered the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1976. Ford’s illustrious NFL career included four All-Pro bids and three championships. Ford was central to a dominant Browns defense that led the league in scoring defense six times.
No. 3 Ozzie Newsome, TE
Newsome has a complicated relationship among Browns fans. He was one of the best players in Browns history and stands as the Browns’ career leader in receptions and receiving yards. Newsome earned one All-Pro bid and played in three Pro Bowls before his 1999 Pro Football Hall of Fame induction. Newsome joined Cleveland’s front office after his playing career and moved to Baltimore with the franchise after the 1995 season. He subsequently helped lead the Baltimore Ravens to 13 playoff appearances, six division titles, and two Lombardi Trophies.
No. 2 Otto Graham, QB
Graham is on the short list of best quarterbacks of his era. He was a serial winner, leading the Browns to seven championships across 10 title games. Graham ranks second in Browns history in career passing yards in spite of playing during a run-dominant era. From team success to individual honors — he was a three-time MVP and seven-time All-Pro — Graham’s career in Cleveland speaks for itself. He was selected into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1965.
No. 1 Jim Brown, RB
It’s fitting that Brown tops the list of best Browns players of all time. He’s one of the best ever to play professional football and is still revered by today’s analysts and pundits. Brown was a dominant force out of Cleveland’s backfield, leading the league in rushing eight times, touchdowns five times, and yards per carry twice. His career mark of 104.3 rushing yards per game still ranks No. 1 all-time. Brown was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971.