Cleveland Browns Perfect Season 1948

Cleveland Browns 1948 - A Truly Perfect Season

With the New England Patriots having a perfect regular season, there has been a lot of talk lately about perfection and undefeated seasons.  When those conversations come up, most mention the 1972 Miami Dolphins as the “only” team in NFL history to be perfect.  During the 1972 season, the Dolphins finished the regular season 14-0 and then won all three playoff games including the Super Bowl to finish with a record of 17-0.

 Otto Graham and Dante Lavelli of the Cleveland Browns Dynasty

In 1934 and 1942, the Chicago Bears had a perfect regular season only to lose in the NFL Championship Game.  The 1948 Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) came on the scene with an unbeaten regular season.  Unlike the Bears, they would win their Championship Game over the Buffalo Bills 49-7 to become the very first Pro Football team to achieve the monumental task of a perfect season. 

To this day, the NFL does not recognize the Browns great accomplishment as they mention only the 1972 Dolphins when they talk about perfect seasons.  They do recognize AFL stats as NFL stats even though the AFL played for ten seasons before the merger.  The AFL was definitely inferior to the NFL especially in the early years.  The same cannot be said about the AAFC and the Cleveland Browns.  Based on what Cleveland accomplished when they joined the NFL in 1950-1955 going to the NFL Championship Game every year, winning three times, it is easy to see that their accomplishment belongs in the annals of the National Football League.

Part of the reason for the Browns and the AAFC’s success was the fact that they let black players play when the NFL did not have any black football players.  The Cleveland Browns had two black players in Bill Willis and Marion Motley who ended up in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  With the greatness of these players and the likes of Otto Graham, Dante Lavelli, Mac Speedie, Lou Groza, and many others, the Cleveland Browns may have been Pro Football’s Greatest Dynasty.  Graham is one of the greatest quarterbacks to play the game (He is on the NFL 75th Anniversary Team).  In all, the Browns have six players from that team in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.  To get more information about the 1948 Cleveland Browns, I would recommend reading the book called, “The Best Show in Football,” by Andy Piascik. 

It will open your eyes to the greatness of the Cleveland Browns when they played in ten consecutive Championship Games.  Although I am not a Browns fan, I can appreciate what the 1948 Cleveland Browns accomplished and hope one day it will be recognized by the NFL and the world of football as it should be.  They were the first team to be “Truly Perfect.”

By A. Goodin,
January 1, 2008

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