Being a Browns Fan: Connecting Generations

We see everyday how Cleveland Browns football brings people together from all over the country and planet on this website. What is true for geography is also true for time. Jeff Biletnikoff remembers his grandfather, and how Browns football brought three generations closer.

Sports connects generations.  Our families started with my grandfather. 

My grandfather was born in 1915, during WW I. He survived the Great Depression, served our country in WW II, came home,  then went back to work and along with my grandmother, raised two sons.

They were married 51 years and we lost him in 1990.

My grandfather was a Cleveland Indians, Cleveland Browns and Ohio State football fan. My dad remembers listening to the 1948 World Series on the radio with my grandfather. Cleveland won!

He also remembers the Cleveland Browns of the late forties and early fifties were coached by the legendary Paul Brown. The quarterback was Otto Graham. "Automatic Otto" they called him. 10 seasons. 10 championship games. Not bad.

The Cleveland Indians of the fifties were great.  Wynn, Garcia, Lemon and Feller were just a few of the outstanding players. Unfortunately there was Reynolds, Rashi, Mantle, Berra and the rest of those damn Yankees to contend with!

In the fifties there was Ohio State's Hopalong Cassidy and a guy named Woody.

My dad recalls every summer in the fifties because that meant an annual trip to Cleveland to see the Indians. There was no I-90 to make the trek easier from Erie.  The only option was two-way route 5 but it didn't matter because it was always a special treat to see the Tribe in those days.

Looking back, my dad doesn't remember the games as much as just being with my grandfather---his dad and real hero. 

As the years go by, those are treasured memories for my dad. 

There was one trip in particular that stands out.  In 1954 the Tribe beat the Yankees in a doubleheader. 80,000 people, including my dad and grandfather, witnessed that great pair of wins as the Indians attained the pennant that season.  

(We won't talk about the World Series and Dusty Rhoades).

In the sixties, Chuck Bednarik of the Eagles said Superman isn't on TV- he plays in Cleveland on Sundays. Of course he was talking about the great Jim Brown- the best running back in NFL history.

Cleveland enjoyed their last major championship team in 1964 - in any sport.  My dad still has a picture of that Sunday at our house - a picture of him and his friends with my grandfather right in the middle of it all. 

Cleveland 27, Baltimore 0. A great day!

The Cleveland Indians of the sixties.......let's move on.

Ohio State, 1968.  Great team, undefeated and national champion.  Quarterback Rex Kern and Coach Woody Hayes- the crest of Woody's coaching career. My grandfather and dad watched or listened to every game.

That was also the year I appeared.  1968.

I started becoming interested in the Cleveland Browns in the late seventies. I remember Brian Sipe and the Cardiac Kids but my best memories are of the Bernie Kosar era. 

Unfortunately there was a guy named Elway that ruined more than one Sunday for my family, and of course, the ever-present, in-our-face, Pittsburgh Steelers.

I was never much of an Indians or Ohio State fan but it didn't matter because Sundays with the Browns connected my grandfather, dad and me. They were great times.

Now its my dad and me.

Sundays are still special but we miss you grandpa.

Happy Father's Day.


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