While the current Cleveland Browns struggle to achieve respectability, the 1948 Browns were the first pro football team to turn in a perfect season. After going 14-0 during the regular season, they crushed the Buffalo Bills 49-7 in the championship game. This occurred in the All-America Football Conference, a rival of the NFL, so it’s a chapter of the sport that is sometimes overlooked but is thoroughly reviewed in “Just Too Good.” The team’s superiority could not be ignored and was a factor in the absorption of three AAFC teams into the NFL. In bringing the Browns into the fold, the NFL acquired one of the most innovative coaches of all-time, Paul Brown, and six future Hall of Fame players, including Bill Willis, who broke pro football’s color barrier.
Here’s an excerpt from Just Too Good:
“The Browns were no stranger to championships. They were born in 1945, when sportswriter Arch Ward created the All-America Football Conference to compete with the NFL. Coached by and named after Paul Brown, the team won the AAFC titles in 1946 and 1947. Unfortunately, the Browns’ 15-0 record in 1948 has been buried beneath the sands of time, and isn’t even recognized by the NFL, which thumbed its nose at the AAFC and to this day refuses to acknowledge that the league ever existed. As far as the NFL is concerned, the 1972 Dolphins are the only team to win all its games, including the championship game, in pro football history. Denying there’s an elephant in the room, however, doesn’t mean it isn’t there.”