The NFL has listed their class of 2023 Modern-Era nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and nine former Cleveland Browns have landed on it. It has been a long while since the Browns have had a player inducted into the Hall of Fame, but this year sure feels like a surefire year to celebrate as a pretty popular name is amongst the group.
Young and old, the list of players we will dive into is filled with Cleveland history (both good and bad). Two quarterbacks, a couple of running backs, a wide receiver, two offensive linemen, a linebacker, and a kick returner all make the cut.
We hope one day to see the likes of Nick Chubb, Myles Garrett, and Joel Bitonio on this list down the road. In the meantime, we hit on all nine here and give a brief summation of their time with the Browns.
QB Jake Delhomme (2010)
December 12, 2010; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Jake Delhomme (17) calls an audible against the Buffalo Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Jake Delhomme spent just one lone season with the Browns at the backend of his career in 2010. In that season he started just four games, going 2-2 as the starter; he threw for 872 yards, including two touchdown passes and seven interceptions. Needless to say his better days were in Carolina when he took the Panthers to the Super Bowl.
QB Jeff Garcia (2004)
** FILE ** Cleveland Browns quarterback Jeff Garcia passes under pressure from New York Jets’ Shaun Ellis on Nov. 21, 2004, in Cleveland. Garcia was released Monday, Feb. 14, 2005, by the Browns, who cut ties with the three-time Pro Bowler after one disastrous season and with three years left on his contract. (AP Photo/Mark Duncan, File)
Like Delhomme, Jeff Garcia also spent just one season in Cleveland in 2004. He started 10 games for the Browns, throwing for 1731 yards, 10 touchdowns, and nine interceptions on the season. He was 3-7 as the starting quarterback in Northeast Ohio. His better days were also well before he came to Cleveland.
RB Jamal Lewis (2007-2009)
Cleveland Browns running back Jamal Lewis is shown against the Detroit Lions in the fourth quarter of an NFL football in Detroit, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009. Detroit won 38-37. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Jamal Lewis was so beloved during his three years with the Browns. Unlike most of the former Cleveland players, he came to the Browns after a long career in Baltimore. Lewis rushed for over 1,000 yards his first two years in a Brown and Orange uniform, finding the endzone 15 times in that span. His last season in Cleveland would turn out to be the last of his career in 2009.
RB Eric Metcalf (1989-1994)
Cleveland Browns Eric Metcalf. (USA TODAY Sports)
The Browns have had some explosive kick returners in their time, and Eric Metcalf might have been the best. The two-time Pro Bowler was even named an All-Pro return man in 1993 after he returned two kicks for touchdowns. All-in-all, he returned five kicks and two punts for touchdowns in a Browns uniform during his tenure alwhile adding over 700 total yards offensively in five of his years here (over 1,000 yards in two of those seasons!).
WR Andre Rison (1995)
Dec 3, 1995; San Diego, CA, USA; FILE PHOTO; Cleveland Browns receiver Andre Rison (83) in action against the San Diego Chargers at Jack Murphy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Peter Brouillet-USA TODAY NETWORK
Coming off of four Pro Bowls with the Atlanta Falcons, wide receiver Andre Rison made a one year pit stop with the Cleveland Browns in 1995. In his lone season in Northeast Ohio, Rison racked up 701 yards and three touchdowns on 47 catches.
OL Lomas Brown (1999)
Field judge Bob McGrath, center, seperates Cleveland Brown’s Lomas Brown, right, from St. Louis Rams’ London Fletcher, left, and Kieth Lyle during a scuffle after a fourth down in the second quarter Sunday, Oct. 24, 1999, during the Rams’s 34-3 victory in St. Louis, Mo.(AP Photo/L.G. Patterson)
Brown’s lone year with the Browns came after the expansion draft when the franchise rebooted in 1999. He had seven Pro Bowls and one All-Pro season to his name, but came to Cleveland at the age of 36 years old. The Detroit royalty then made stops with the New York Giants and Tampa Bay Buccaneers before retiring after the 2002 season.
OL Joe Thomas (2007-2017)
Cleveland Browns offensive tackle Joe Thomas (73) walks on the sideline during an NFL football game against the Tennessee Titans, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2017, in Cleveland. The Titans won 12-9 in overtime. (AP Photo/David Richard)
The Cleveland Browns have not had a first ballot Hall of Famer in quite some time, but Joe Thomas sure seems like one. Forced to retire after a nasty elbow injury during his 11th season in the league, Thomas had not missed a game prior for the Browns.
He had also not missed a Pro Bowl prior to the 2017 injury either, as he was named to 10 of them. Thomas was also named to six All-Pros in his career that was spent exclusively in Cleveland.
Thomas will never pay for another drink in Northeast Ohio as he is royalty to this city. The scene in Canton, Ohio is going to be packed with Brown and Orange if (when) Thomas is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame this summer.
Willie McGinest (2006-2008)
Cleveland Browns linebacker Willie McGinest (55) looks to the sidelines during a time out in an NFL football game against the Pittsburgh Steelers Sunday, Sept. 14, 2008, in Cleveland. (AP Photo/Tony Dejak)
Those bad Browns teams of the 2000s had a way of bringing in veterans who were at the end of their careers to try to at least get some talent on the field. Longtime New England Patriot Willie McGinest was one of those guys. Spending three seasons with the Browns, McGinest totaled eight sacks and 17 tackles for loss. He retired in 2008 after his third season in Cleveland.
KR Josh Cribbs (2005-2012)
Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Cribbs (16) walks of the field raising his helmet after an NFL game between the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cleveland Browns in Cleveland, Ohio November 25, 2012. (AP Photo/Tom Hauck)
A forever fan favorite, wide receiver and kick returner Josh Cribbs was a one-man offensive show through the majority of the putrid years of Browns’ football during his tenure. A local kid from Kent State (Washington D.C. originally), Cribbs converted from a college quarterback for the Golden Flashes into a return specialist and gadget player.
While he was never too solid of a contributor offensively outside of trick plays and manufactured touches, Cribbs made three Pro Bowls as a returner. He was even named as an All-Pro in 2009. Cribbs housed eight kicks for the Browns, including three during his All-Pro season.