BEREA, Ohio – While the phrase ” Cleveland Browns Super Bowl champions” has never been uttered, the team has won eight championships.
Four from All-American football conference and four from the NFL.
But they don’t have a single original trophy to show in Berea’s team headquarters for its storied history.
Or, it didn’t until earlier this week when the grandson of an original Browns team owner sent the first championship trophy back home.
That first championship came back in 1946. It was the AAFC Championship. The Browns head coach was Paul Brown, the majority owner was Mickey McBride and Daniel Sherby was a minority owner.
More than 41,000 fans watched the Browns beat the New York Yankees 14-9 in the cold on December 22, 1946, on the strength of Otto Graham’s 213 yards in the air.
In those days, Browns manager of alumni relations Tony Dick says, the players only got what amounted to a lapel pin and the owners didn’t get anything. So the players themselves chipped in for a trophy to commemorate their victory. One for McBride and one for Sherby.
Dick told Baskin & Phelps that there was a trophy when the Browns started winning NFL championships.
But—like the Stanley Cup—it traveled, moving around with the winning team.
Those earlier trophies fell into the crevices of time, leaving the team missing a tangible part of its legacy.
Then the 1946 Championship trophy, found in North Carolina by Sherby’s grandson, made its way home thanks, in part, to… …reality TV.
When Greg Cole and his family started packing up their home to move, they contacted “Garage Gold” on the DIY Network to help them auction off their hidden treasures.
The family knew the trophy existed—somewhere—but didn’t know it was in their attic. When the show’s producers had the trophy’s value appraised, they handed it to a Cleveland native.
“He was almost in tears,” Dick said.
As Dick put it, the family had a tough choice to make: Sell the trophy at auction—probably for a lot of money—or give it back to the Cleveland Browns.
“They are a tremendous family,” Dick said, “and they decided it belonged back in Berea with us.”
Now, the only question that remains is whether this squashes all the team’s curses, clearing the way for a Super Bowl championship in that trophy case too.
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