The Cleveland Browns did not fire Bill Belichick

Art Modell fired the coach after NFL approved move to Baltimore and Browns were placed in a trust

Daryl Ruiter
February 15, 2019 - 11:06 pm

Credit USA Today Images

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Cleveland, OH (92.3 The Fan) – Friday marked the anniversary of one of the most inaccurately reported fact in NFL history.

The Cleveland Browns fired Bill Belichick on Feb. 15, 1996.

It makes for a good story, if only it were true.

Both ESPN and Yahoo!Sports commemorated the 23rd anniversary of Belichick’s firing, inaccurately Friday.

There are a million things the Browns can be blamed and laughed at for – starting with their record since returning to the NFL in 1999 or being the second 0-16 team in league history – but this is not one of them.

The timeline of Belichick’s firing is as follows.

On Feb. 9, 1996, NFL owners approved Art Modell’s request to move his franchise from Cleveland to Baltimore, but the Browns name, colors, records and history would remain behind for a new Browns franchise to assume in 1999 either as an expansion club or relocated team.

Upon that announcement, Modell’s team ceased being the Cleveland Browns.

Modell announced the move on Nov. 6, 1995 at a press conference in Baltimore, Maryland where he uttered the infamous words, “I had no other choice,” setting off protests followed by lawsuits from the city of Cleveland and Browns fans to block the move and retain the team.

After three months of negotiations, a compromise was reached.

The NFL placed the Browns into a trust, suspending operation of the franchise for three years while a new stadium was built on the site of Cleveland Municipal Stadium, paving the way for Modell to name his Baltimore team the Ravens following a fan contest.

Belichick was fired six days later by Modell, who has the distinction of firing two of the greatest coaches in NFL history in Paul Brown and Belichick.

So, for the millionth time, the Cleveland Browns didn’t fire Belichick. Modell did.

Maybe next year they’ll finally get the story straight.