Browns take trip back to future

Past not forgotten as expansion team debuts vs. Cowboys

August 10, 1999|By KNIGHT RIDDER/TRIBUNE

CANTON, Ohio -- It was a night for football, and a night for pageantry.

It was a night for tackles and passes and runs, and a night for emotions.

It was a night for the future, but more important for the Cleveland Browns and their fans, it was a night for the past.

After a three-season hiatus, the orange helmets and white uniforms returned to the field in Canton, the city where professional football was born.

The Browns' opponent in last night's Hall of Fame Game at Fawcett Stadium was the Dallas Cowboys, but the opponent meant little.

Last night's nationally televised game belonged to the Browns and their return, and their new coach knows it.

"You think about the history of the Browns," Chris Palmer said. "Paul Brown started the Cleveland Browns and the team is named after him. He's from the Canton area [Brown was born in Norwalk and coached in Massillon]. He coached at Ohio State. Came back in the '50s to merge with the NFL.

"This is a special deal for the Cleveland Browns. The fact that Ozzie Newsome, one of our great players, was inducted into the Hall, was special for everyone. For us to go down and be able to play as a local team in this setting, coming back new, I won't be the only one who has butterflies."

Newsome, the former Browns tight end and current Ravens vice president of player personnel, made the team's return a focal point in his Hall of Fame induction speech Saturday, concluding with the excitement about the team's return and saying: "Here we go again."

Thirty-six former Browns were on the field for the pregame coin toss with eight Cleveland Hall of Famers in the midfield huddle.

They are Frank Gatski, Otto Graham, Lou Groza, Leroy Kelly, Dante Lavelli, Mike McCormack, Paul Warfield and Bill Willis. Representing the Cowboys are five Hall of Famers: Roger Staubach, Mel Renfro, Bob Lilly, Tony Dorsett and Randy White.

The entire Hall of Fame class of 1999, including Newsome, were honored at the halftime.

The Browns wore will wear their traditional white shirts and pants.

Pub Date: 8/10/99

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