The Cleveland Browns have come a long way from those lean years.
In the span of 18 years, the Cleveland Browns sent just 18 players to the Pro Bowl. From 1999 to 2017, that’s all that went. This doesn’t count players who went multiple times, mind you, but just individual players who went at least once. That 18 players number may seem great until you realize that it’s essentially one every year. That’s not great.
In fact, the Browns only sent one player to the Pro Bowl from 1999 to 2007; Jamir Miller.
Those days are gone, thankfully. The Browns had five representatives in the Pro Bowl this year with Nick Chubb (third time), Wyatt Teller (first time), Myles Garrett (third time), Joel Bitonio (fourth time), and Denzel Ward (second time).
They even had another four players selected as alternates, with Jadeveon Clowney, Andy Janovich, JC Tretter, and Jedrick Wills in the wings if needed. None of them got to see action so they don’t get to call themselves Pro Bowlers for the 2021-2022 season, but it’s still a nice honor.
That’s nine players that got looked at and considered. That’s an impressive list. Gone are the days were only Joe Thomas and Josh Cribbs were going to the Pro Bowl. Times have changed indeed.
So why bring this up? Well, a lot of fans are riding the doom and gloom express for some reason. The Browns had a down year in 2021, marred by COVID and injuries, but they’re far from a bad team. After all, this was a team many saw high hopes for. That team is still there, nothing has changed other than a few fans growing frustrated and impatient.
It’s important to remember where this team was prior to 2018.
The Cleveland Browns are not the same team they once were
I mentioned before that from 1999 to 2017, the Browns only had 18 players make the Pro Bowl. Since 2018, seven have made it already. The collection of talent is impressive but it’s not the only thing that needs to be mentioned. The Browns are better equipped to develop talent as well.
This isn’t the same Browns franchise of years gone by. There’s stability and some sort of direction. Not every fan is on board with that direction and that’s ok, but if you’ve been around for the last 23 years of Cleveland Browns football, you cannot with any real validity, tell me that you would prefer 2005 or 2013 to right now.
Things are significantly better. There is so much more expected from this team than there has ever been since the team returned in 1999.
Sure, it’s frustrating to miss out on the playoffs, but not long ago winning eight games in a season was a pipe-dream. We’re in an era now where even our “bad seasons” are so much better than what we’ve known.
Don’t let recency bias blind you to just how bad things have been since 1999. This is a golden age of Browns football; whether you want to admit it or not. I for one am enjoying the ride because I remember when the Browns were a stain on the league – long before Hue Jackson ever arrived in Cleveland.
Now the team is seen as a playoff contender. This isn’t to say the team still can’t improve, they absolutely can, but let’s also acknowledge that this team has come a long way. Fans should be a bit more appreciative of what we have because it wasn’t too long ago our best player was Rueben Droughns.