The phantom ’40s

The official site’s Steve King, whose pieces on Browns history are generally pretty decent, strikes a Browns-versus-the-NFL note in reporting on the league’s rebuff of Senator Sherrod Brown’s request to have AAFC statistics recognized by the NFL.
Funny, though, he never mentions the records kept by the team itself. Yes, it’s true. The Cleveland Browns themselves all but ignore their first four years of greatness.

The team’s own version of its franchise records, as kept on the official site and its own media guide, pay absolutely no heed to anything that happened from 1946 through 1949. Attendance, yes. Touchdowns, interceptions, and all that hard-fought yardage? Nada.

Most wins in a season? The perfect 1948 team won 15, but the team itself bestows the record on its 1986 edition, which won 13.

Individually, who played the most games for the Browns? Was it Lou Groza (52 AAFC plus 216 NFL) or Clay Matthews (232)? Why must one visit an independent site to compare?

In one place (pdf) they seem almost apologetic about the issue, when Hall of Famer Dante Lavelli ranks just 10th in career receiving yards because his first four seasons are excluded. If an explanatory asterisk is deserved there, it should, for consistency’s sake, be peppered liberally throughout the team’s record book for all the feats omitted.

No wonder Mac Speedie never made the Hall himself, despite a more accomplished career than his contemporaries who were inducted.

If the Browns themselves can’t see fit to reflect the full reality of their own heritage, it seems silly for their employees to bemoan the continuing snub at the hands of “the corporate offices of the NFL.”

If the organization is truly serious about honoring the full breadth of its own history, the next media guide will include all the AAFC statistics, with or without asterisks.