Who owns a team's history and championships?

Say the Cleveland Browns won the Super Bowl in 95, would the Baltimore Ravens have been the reigning Champs in 96? Could the Browns have then reclaimed the title back when they were reestablished in 99?

As a Browns Fan I feel I’m qualified to speak on this subject.

I suppose the 96 Ravens would be considered reigning champs until the Browns returned in 99 because-this is the only time it has ever happened in professional sports-when the Browns returned they kept all of the records of the previous Browns. So in the 96, 97, and 98 seasons the Ravens would have been considered the 95 champs, but in 99 the Browns would have taken back the title.

The Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Ravens, but everything Browns stayed in Cleveland. This is what the NFL declared. The Ravens essentially had everything from a move except the history. The Browns were essentially on a three year hiatus.

However if the Browns had won the Superbowl in the 95 season, they probably would not have moved. Had Art Model moved them after this he would have chased by half of Cleveland by torchbearers reminiscent of Frankenstein’s monster and tarred and feathered. He nearly was after the 5-11 95 season.

Another team that this issue miught apply to is the Tennessee Titans, formerly the Houston Oilers.

Of course, it wasn’t until I saw the movie Castaway that I knew that the Titans weren’t an expansion team.

I can’t think of a single franchise in the four majors that won a championship and changed cities before the start of the next season. Maybe the Lakers back in Minnesota? Although, I’m pretty sure LA Laker fans consider Mikan their own.

I don’t think any North Stars fans were celebrating when the Dallas Stars won it.

As someone who grew up in St. Louis, I sure as hell won’t celebrate an Arizona Cardinals Super Bowl victory. Because I’ll be ice skating in hell with everyone else.

I’m guessing that the Baltimore Ravens don’t consider the old Colts championships part of their history. I would think Indianapolis would. From the NFL standpoint I think the team that won the Baltimore Colts championships now resides in Indy.

How did baseball handle the multiple Washington Senators?

Of course, they made it easy for us by having maybe one good player ever between two teams (Walter Johnson).

I thought that the NFL considered the Browns-Ravens as one franchise. I could have sworn that they decided everything went to Cleveland except the name and colors and such. Because didn’t Shannon Sharpe break a team record held by Ozzie Newsome?

A very timely comment. Just this past week the Lakers got around to “officially” recognizing the achievements of the Minneapolis Lakers and hoisting championship banners into the rafters of the Staples Center.

They wore replicas of the old Minneapolis uniforms for the game, and in a big halftime to-do hoisted the banners. I believe Mikan and whoever else from the old team they could dig up were present as guests of honor.

I haven’t been paying all that much attention, but I believe the Lakers as an organization had, up until now, thought of their team history as beginning when they moved to California.

I guess only a team with a pretty storied recent history would more-or-less pooh-pooh past championships that it could, by most accounts, claim as its own… :slight_smile:

Goose Goslin. Mickey Vernon. Joe Judge.

Anyway, when the original Senators moved to Minneapolis, the NEW Senator franchise adopted the history of the old. So although all the Senators players, equipment, and records went to Minnesota, their history was officially transplanted onto the Senators 2.0.

When the Senators 2.0 moved to Texas, the history of the Senators went into limbo. Both the Twins’ and the Rangers’ online history pages start at 1960. Serious baseball researchers do consider the Senators 1.0 and the Twins to be the same franchise, because they were, and it gives continuity to the careers of players like Bob Allison and Harmon Killebrew.

That was an NFL record Sharpe broke, not a team record. Shannon Sharpe now has the most receptions in NFL history for a tight end. The former record-holder was Ozzie Newsome.

As part of the settlement of the lawsuit the City of Cleveland filed against the NFL and the franchise owned by Art Modell, for breaching the Cleveland Stadium lease (which still had several years to run after 1995 and in which the team had agreed to play all its home games in Cleveland Stadium), it was agreed that the name, colors and history would stay in Cleveland. The City’s suit was a strong one because Modell clearly breached the existing lease when he signed papers to move to Baltimore. (The same legal theory is being used to keep the Minnesota Twins alive for this season.) Modell got to keep the NFL franchise, which is the right to have a team play NFL games and share in the NFL’s swag - along with the player contracts, equipment and jockstraps. Modell’s Baltimore franchise started in 1996 with the former Browns’ players but without the Cleveland team’s history. The settlement also provided that Cleveland would have another NFL team by 1999 either via expansion or by stealing - er, I mean “relocating” - one from another locale.

An interesting sidelight is that the Cleveland team’s 1964 NFL championship trophy, which was to remain in Cleveland, hasn’t been found. Modell has claimed that the trophy was misplaced some time before, but who knows? I half expect Modell’s son David to hock the thing on EBay in 20 years after the statute of limitations has run out.
Getting back to the OP, it seems to me that a team’s history, which should remain with its’ customers in the city where the memories were created, has, with the exception of the Browns’ settlement, traveled with the franchise. When bad teams move, such as baseball’s two versions of the Washington Senators, or Bidwell’s incompetent NFL Cardinals franchise, no one really cares about the team’s history. Do you think anyone in Phoenix gets jacked up fondly recalling the Chicago Cardinals’ 1948 NFL title? I don’t think so either.

There’s also the Milwaukee Braves, who moved to Atlanta, and now Milwaukee has the Brewers. Who claims Hank Aaron?

You are correct - the Colts stuff is in Indy. The only thing we got to keep in Baltimore was the Baltimore Colts Marching Band, which was around for many years after the Colts left.

Quoth The Great Zamboni:

As opposed to only a third of the city, moving them when he did? :slight_smile:

The NJ Devils came very close to moving to Nashville right after they won the Stanley Cup in 1995. They did not move and Nashville got an expansion team instead

I’ll avoid any further comment on Art Model as he’s recovering from the shock of a heart attack, and we in Cleveland are recovering from the fact that Art Model does in fact have a heart.

Been a while but in 1946 the Rams moved to L.A. months after winning the NFL championship. And the city they left was alas,…Cleveland.

Aaron is claimed by the Braves. He played for the Braves when they were in Atlanta too, and in fact broke Babe Ruth’s career home run record in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium. He works for the Braves today. The Braves have always considered their history continuous from the Boston Braves through the Milwaukee Braves to the Atlanta Braves.

The Brewers claim Aaron too, though, like the Braves having retired his number 44, even though he only played there 1975-76, at the end of his career.

The Braves have retired numbers for players who played in Boston (Warren Spahn), Milwaukee (Aaron, Mathews), and Atlanta (Niekro, Murphy).

The Dodgers and Giants each lay claim to their earlier histories in Brooklyn and New York, having retired numbers from that era.

The A’s have no retired numbers from players that played in Philadelphia, possibly because their last pennant winner there was in 1931, just about the time numbers began to be worn. And their history in Kansas City was unmemorable.

Likewise, the Orioles have no retired numbers from their days in St. Louis as the Browns. Although some Hall of Famers (e.g. Sisler)played for the Brownies, they were mostly before numbers started to be worn.

Historians of sports usually keep track of the team through their franchise moves. So when the Dodgers moved to LA, their history went with them.

Baseball fans consider Washington-Minnesota and Washington-Texas to be two different franchises. Even those teams that moved a lot (Milwaukee-St. Louis-Baltimore) are considered one franchise.

An expansion franchise, even one in a city where a team left, is considered a clean slate. Thus the NY Mets have no claim on the NY Giants or Brooklyn Dodgers (except for ex-Giants or ex-Dodgers who played for them, like Willie Mays or Gil Hodges).

A listing of how things are considered in baseball can be found at Baseball Reference. Interestingly, the Chicago White Sox and Detroit Tigers are the only two non-expansion franchises never to have changed their city or their name.

Several cities have had teams leave and then had teams either move back, or expansion teams to replace the lost franchises. These include Seattle, Milwaukee (twice), Kansas City, New York (NL), Baltimore (twice), and Washington.

The Senators, BTW, had were an AL power in the early 30s, though they only had one pennant to show for it. From 1930-34 they won over 92 games a season, but with the Athletics and Yankees in the league, it was hard for them to win.

It should be the same in football. Cleveland Browns-Baltimore Ravens is one franchise and the new Cleveland Browns is another. The lawsuit may or may not make a difference – Model might be bound by it, but a football historian is not and it would be likely that they will be considered two franchises.

The lawsuit does make a difference. The Browns left Cleveland for Baltimore and left everything behind in Cleveland. The new Browns picked up where the old Browns left off. The Ravens never officially claimed Browns history. It all stayed in Cleveland. Strange but true. Historians are bound by that.