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Broncos History: The Curse over the Browns

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  • Broncos History: The Curse over the Browns

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    "I don't ever want to see the Denver Broncos play in my stadium," said then Cleveland Browns owner Art Modell when the NFL was in talks with the rival AFL for merging the two leagues.

    The merger did happen, the Broncos joined the NFL in 1970 along with the other AFL teams, and the team had a surprise for Modell when the Broncos visited Cleveland Municipal Stadium in 1971.

    The Broncos totally destroyed the Browns 27-0. To this day one of the most dominant Bronco performances I have ever seen and so unexpected. Cleveland was a contender that year (the Browns ended up 9-5) while the Broncos struggled (with a 4-9-1 record in 1971). Over the years I have saved newspapers of great Bronco victories, and this was one (see the photo above)

    Years later I talked to Broncos great Floyd Little about that game at a Denver Broncos Quarterback Club meeting. "That win meant a lot to Lou," Little said about Broncos head coach Lou Saban. Little went on to tell me that Saban had played for the Browns in the late 40's.

    It was to be Saban's last win as Broncos head coach. He resigned midseason as the Broncos failed to have a winning record during his five year tenure.

    But Denver's "curse" over the Browns lived on. Three Broncos AFC Championship victories vs Cleveland, including the famous "Drive" game in that same stadium, made Art Modell regret his words disparaging the Broncos. Overall the Broncos have 11 wins against 2 losses against the Browns for games played in Cleveland, and an overall record of 24 Broncos wins vs 6 losses in games against the Browns.

    Will the Broncos curse over the Browns strike again this Thursday night when the two teams meet in a nationally televised game? The Browns are favored by three points and the Broncos are in the midst of a three game losing streak. If the Broncos do win, perhaps the curse has struck again!

    More details about the Broncos 1971 victory over the Browns can be found in this Sports Illustrated story about the game.