CLEVELAND — On the surface, and to outsiders, it does not make sense.
The Browns have one playoff appearance since they returned to the NFL in 1999. Dating back to 1990, the Browns have reached the playoffs twice in the last 15 seasons. And now, 2010 is off to disastrous 0-2 start.
Yet year after year, people flock to Cleveland Browns Stadium, people yearn for news on their team at websites like the Orange and Brown Report (shameless plug) and Browns apparel continues to sell.
Today's Ring of Honor Ceremony at halftime showcased why.
The ceremony began with a video from NFL Films President Steve Sabol.
"The Browns have a proud heritage built, in part, by these men who have been immortalized in Canton," he said. "It's the players, coaches and moments like these that makes the city proud and it brings to mind one phrase: Go Browns!"
For the next 10 minutes, highlights provided by NFL Films played while former Browns radio announcer Jim Mueller announced the Browns' 16 inductees into the Ring of Honor.
Jim Brown. Paul Warfield. Lou Groza. Ozzie Newsome. Len Ford. Frank Gatski. Leroy Kelly. Gene Hickerson. Mike McCoirmack. Joe DeLamielleure. Bobby Mitchell. Bill Willis. Marion Motley. Dante Lavelli. Otto Graham. Paul Brown.
"The Cleveland Browns have a long and stories history created, in part, by these 16 former Browns players currently enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton," Mueller said. "These 16 men helped create memories that have lasted for a generation. The Cleveland Browns are proud to honor them and the heritage of the team by unveiling for you the Cleveland Browns Ring of Honor."
With that, the tarps revealed the Ring of Honor, which is located between the club level and upper deck. The brown façade has the names in white letters followed by that player's number. The letters are outlined in orange.
Paul Brown, for who the team is named after, is located on the north side façade at midfield.
The event was a celebration of the Browns franchise, a franchise that is 1-11 in home openers since 1999. The names that encompass Cleveland Browns Stadium are names from an era long ago. DeLamielleure and Newsome are the only Browns hall of famer players who played in the 1980s while Newsome's career ended in 1990, which marked the beginning of the Browns' current struggles.
Since then, it has been one losing season after another a single season, double-digit win total occurring once a decade. It is the names that are now displayed at Cleveland Browns Stadium that bring fans back and keep fans wearing seal brown and burnt orange.
Sadly, the players and teams of yesteryear are all Browns fans have. The players include some who played before face masks were invented, as well as the player and coach who invented the facemask — Paul Brown and Otto Graham.
The players honored halftime Sunday produced consistent winning and even championship seasons. Until the present day team does the same, the players of yesteryear will continued to be celebrated. That makes sense.