The Cleveland Sports Scene Part 2: The NFL Championship Game 1964

This is Part Two of a series on Cleveland Sports. Read Part One here.

The Cleveland Sports Scene Part 2: The NFL Championship Game 1964 by @SRobbinsAuthor #football #cleveland #sports

The Cleveland Sports Scene

I’ve always been the world’s worst athlete. In basketball, I’m lucky to hit the backboard. In golf, I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve broken 100. Name a sport: I’ve tried it and failed.

I blame it on being from Cleveland.

With very few exceptions during my lifetime, the sports scene in Cleveland has been one of failure and disappointment.

Heck, even when the Cavaliers won a championship, LeBron ditched the city and never looked back.

Like any native Clevelander, even though I left the area, I’m a closet fan of all the teams. That’s hard to admit, but true. I still whine about Art Modell’s traitorous relocation of the Browns to Baltimore. I’ll never call the baseball team anything, but the Indians, and my Chief Wahoo sweatshirt and baseball cap will always have an honored place in my closet.

The 1964 NFL Championship Game

But of all my hometown sports memories, nothing can replace the one of December 27, 1964, when the Browns won their last NFL championship game against the great Johnny Unitas and the Baltimore Colts. I was 14 at the time, and although my family lived hand to mouth, my father was a diehard fan and somehow found the money to get season tickets for him, my brother, and me.

The game was held at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium, in front of 79,544 fans. To this day, I think it must have been one of the coldest, most uncomfortable days that I can remember as our seats were on the side of the stadium where the wind blew in from Lake Erie directly into our faces.

One of our family friends owned a small deli just down the street from the stadium where we could park, grab hot corned beef sandwiches and a thermos of hot chocolate before we walked down to the gates. Whoever designed the seating in that stadium had to be a masochist, as the seats were even hard for my teenage butt to put up with.

The game was the first NFL championship game to be broadcast nationally by CBS, and there are actually some cool audio and video tapes that can be viewed at the 1964 NFL Championship: Cleveland Browns vs. Baltimore Colts | FIRST DRIVE (TEST) – Bing video.

If you watch the video, there’s a great scene where one of the Colts picks up Jim Brown (Cleveland’s fullback) and dumps him on his head; a play that most likely would be called for unnecessary roughness today. Those guys were tough!

The Cleveland Sports Scene Part 2: The NFL Championship Game 1964 by @SRobbinsAuthor #football #cleveland #sports

After the game, my father’s best friend somehow purchased a football that was autographed by the entire team as well as Blanton Collier, the former coach. Thanks to a very close friend, it’s now one of my most treasured possessions.


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