On November 6, 1995, NFL fans in Cleveland received news that stunned the football world. The owner of Browns, Art Modell, announced he was moving the team to Baltimore after being unable to secure a new stadium deal in Cleveland. The decision to uproot a beloved NFL franchise with deep historical roots in Cleveland sent shockwaves through the NFL and the city itself.
The Browns’ move to Baltimore marked the end of a storied era in Cleveland sports. The franchise had a rich history, dating back to its founding in 1946 and was known for its passionate fan base and storied rivalry with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The sudden departure of the team left fans heartbroken and feeling betrayed, as the Browns had been an integral part of the city’s identity for decades.
WJZ’s Mark Viviano, a reporter in Baltimore, was the first to learn about the relocation of the team to Baltimore. On The 25th anniversary, he reflected on the experience of reporting out the biggest surprise in NFL history.
In Baltimore, the team was renamed the Baltimore Ravens and went on to achieve significant success, including winning Super Bowl XXXV in 2001. The move also led to the construction of a new stadium, M&T Bank Stadium, which became the team’s home. However, the Baltimore Ravens’ success was met with mixed emotions by fans in Cleveland, who continued to mourn the loss of their beloved Browns.
After three years without an NFL team, the city of Cleveland was awarded an expansion franchise in 1999, and the Browns were officially reinstated. This return of the Browns was met with jubilation and fan support, helping to heal some of the wounds caused by the team’s earlier departure. The move of the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore in 1995 remains a significant and contentious chapter in NFL history, with the two cities forever linked by the franchise’s turbulent relocation saga.