Thursday, September 07, 2000

Bengals-Browns hatred has waned

Brown, Modell keyed rivalry

By Tom Groeschen
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        For sheer hatred, the Bengals-Browns rivalry is not what it once was.

        “I don't think so,” Bengals coach Bruce Coslet said Wednesday. “I think it could become that again because of the Ohio thing.”

        From 1970-95, before the original Browns left Cleveland, the annual two-game series often was nasty.

        There were angry words between the cities, the players. There was Thom Darden knocking Pat McInally cold in 1980. There was Cincinnati rubbing its two Super Bowls (1981, '88) in Cleveland's face and snickering when the Browns lost several AFC title games.

        But mostly, it was about two men.

        “That was a blood feud,” Coslet said. “Brown vs. Modell.”

        Paul Brown's Cleveland teams won three NFL titles in the 1950s. But in 1962, new Cleveland owner Art Modell fired Brown.

        “This can never be my team as long as you are here,” Modell told Brown.

        Brown returned to pro football in 1967, forming the Bengals. The team played in the old American Football League in 1968-69 and joined the NFL in 1970, where the Browns awaited.

        Before the Bengals were born, the Browns were Cincinnati's favorite NFL team. But when the Bengals arrived, most Cincinnati fans switched allegiances. And the media played up the Brown-Modell rivalry.

        “There were hard feelings there,” Coslet said. “It was serious business.”

        Coslet played tight end for the Bengals from 1969-76. He remembers Paul Brown never had to give a big speech during “Cleveland Week.”

        “He never came out and said it,” Coslet said. “But he'd kind of look at you and say, "You know, I'd really like to win this one.'”

        The rivalry lay dormant when Cleveland was without a team from 1996-98. In 1999, the Bengals beat the expansion Browns twice.

        Defensive end John Copeland, an eighth-year pro, is one of the few Bengals who played in the old Browns series.

        “It's a little different now,” Copeland said. “It's still a rivalry, but a lot of our young guys don't know what it's about. It's a game where you've got to control your emotions.”

        HEALTH WATCH: The


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