BEREA — The Browns have won eight championships in their history.
They finally have a trophy to show for them.
Alumni relations manager Tony Dick returned Wednesday from Raleigh, N.C., with a trophy – gold kicker on top, scores of the games below and names of the 38 players on the base – commemorating the franchise’s first title in 1946. It came in the All-America Football Conference in the organization’s first season.
“We did not know that this one existed at all,” Dick said Friday.
The AAFC didn’t hand out trophies to the owners for titles. The players got a lapel pin barely bigger than a dime, but the owners received nothing.
Dick learned that the players decided that wasn’t right and commissioned trophies for owner Arthur B. McBride and minority owner Daniel Sherby. They’re identical except for the owner’s name on each version.
McBride’s trophy belongs to his grandson and resides in his office at a Cleveland cab company. A tour of memorabilia there was the first time Dick realized a trophy from 1946 existed. No one with the Browns knew of Sherby’s until it was recently found in a garage in North Carolina.
Gary Cole, Sherby’s grandson, had the trophy in a box and it was discovered when he was moving. The discovery was captured on “Garage Gold,” a reality show on DIY Network. The episode is expected to air in late January or early February.
Cole contacted the Browns and agreed to turn over the trophy to the team. Dick borrowed a crate from the Pro Football Hall of Fame, drove to Raleigh and picked it up.
“It’s pretty special we actually have something physical that you can look at and it says we won a championship,” Dick said. “We’ll be able to display this now and you can see it. I think that makes a huge difference.”
A permanent location hasn’t been chosen. Dick said the team will confer with the Hall of Fame to make sure it’s safely displayed.
The 1946 championship was the first of 10 straight appearances in the title game for the Browns. They won four AAFC crowns and four in the NFL.
Before the Super Bowl, the NFL Championship trophy traveled each year to the winning team. The Browns won in 1964 – Cleveland’s last title – but lost to Green Bay in 1965, so it left the building.
Six Hall of Famers played on the 1946 team, which was coached by Hall of Famer Paul Brown. Thirty-one of the 38 players served in the military.
GIPSON STAYS HUMBLE
Defensive coordinator Ray Horton shocked his media audience Thursday when he declared second-year free safety Tashaun Gipson the team’s defensive MVP through nine games. Gipson, who was undrafted out of Wyoming, was considered a weak link heading into the year, but has started eight games with 62 tackles and two interceptions
“It’s a humbling experience for Coach Horton to speak that highly of me,” said Gipson, who shared the credit with his teammates. “I’m definitely grateful and gracious for his beliefs and I can just continue to go out there and grind and try to become a better pro and have a better second half of the season than I did in the first half.”
Gipson said he hasn’t reached any of the goals he set before the year.
“I’m not where I want to be,” he said. “I think that everybody’s their hardest critic. I personally feel like I left a lot of plays out there that I want back.”
Teammates weren’t going to let the resemblance between quarterback Jason Campbell and legendary singer Lionel Richie pass without recognition. Richie’s 1980s hit “Hello” was the first song played at practice Friday – a departure from the normal playlist – and an old picture of Richie was taped next to Campbell’s locker.
There was also a picture of actor Eriq La Salle, who was in “Coming to America” and “ER” and looks a lot like Campbell.
“I don’t know who’s doing that but that is awesome,” tight end Jordan Cameron said. “It is very, very funny. I think I have an idea of who is doing it but I will not divulge that information.”
Campbell, who took the ribbing in stride, has become a favorite in the locker room in his first year with the Browns.
“Me and Jason are real close,” receiver Josh Gordon said. “He’s a real good friend of mine. I look up to him, being in the league this long, knowing as much as he knows, he’s definitely teaching me a lot. He’s helped me become a better wide receiver.”
Cleveland or Cincinnati? was the question posed to Bengals coach Marvin Lewis this week on a conference call with Browns reporters. Which city’s stadium should have a statue of Brown, who was the first coach of both teams and founded the Bengals?
“You’re trying to get me in trouble,” Lewis said. “Politically (correct), there’d be two, right?
“You’d have to put it outside the stadium in Cleveland, wouldn’t you? It started with the Cleveland Browns and getting football going there like he did and at the standard and the level that it was played at when he was there. So I would think there. He’s got a stadium here still named after him. So let’s put a statue up there on the lake.”
The Browns visit Paul Brown Stadium on Sunday.
Tight end MarQueis Gray (hamstring) was ruled out for Sunday. Guard Jason Pinkston (ankle), activated from short-term injured reserve for the first time this season, was listed as questionable on the official injury report.
Coach Rob Chudzinski said Pinkston was sore but OK. He was limited in practice Thursday and Friday.
** Receiver/returner Travis Benjamin had surgery Friday to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament. Chudzinski said it went well, a full recovery is expected and hopefully he’ll be ready for training camp.
** The Bengals ruled out starting right guard Kevin Zeitler (foot) and backup defensive tackle Devon Still (elbow).
Middle linebacker Rey Maualuga (knee) and nickelback/backup safety Chris Crocker (hamstring) were listed as doubtful. Linebacker James Harrison (calf) is questionable after being added to the injury report Friday. He didn’t practice.
Nose tackle Phil Taylor had his No. 75 retired at Gwynn Park High School in Brandywine, Md., during the bye week. He was all-state as a senior with 77 tackles and 10 sacks.
** The Bengals will wear orange jerseys and white pants Sunday.