The last time the Cleveland Browns made the playoffs, coach Kevin Stefanski was still in college and Baker Mayfield was in elementary school.
Michael Jordan was still in the NBA, and LeBron James didn’t give up.
Mark Zuckerberg hasn’t invented Facebook yet, and Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears have just split up.
But on Sunday, at home with their archrivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Browns can snap a play-off spot for the first time in 18 years and end the longest post-season drought in the NFL.
A drought that turned into an eternity for the Browns. In many ways it has been an eternity.
How was the last time the Browns played in the playoffs different? Here’s a look back at what happened and what life was like in 2002, the last time Cleveland went into the post-season:
Jim Tom, completion of 52 home runs
Fault! The file name is not specified. Clevelandbatter Jim Thome hits his 26th homer of the season. Home run, one shot twice, against the New York Yankees at Yankee Stadium on 2. July 2002. He hit 52 home runs that season. Linda Cataffo/New York Daily News Archive through Getty Images
A pillar of Cleveland’s five consecutive play-off teams in the 1990s, Thome saved his best season in Cleveland by far. He set a franchise record with 52 home runs and became the 21st player to do so. A player in the history of baseball to break the 50-hour barrier. He also leads the LA in walks and legumes and is the winner of the Roberto Clemente Award for Sportsmanship and Social Engagement. But Cleveland missed the playoffs and Fome left after the season and signed an $85 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies.
USA World Championship Strike
Fault! The file name is not specified. Columbus Crew star Brian McBride led the U.S. team with a goal in the knockout phase winning Mexico before the Americans placed their best USMNT World Cup result in 72 years with a 1-0 loss to Germany. Tony Marshall/EMPICS via Getty Images
The U.S. national football team opens the World Cup with a 3-2 victory over the favorite Portugal, behind the strong heads of Columbus Crew star Brian McBride (apparently not related to Arthur McBride, the original owner of the Browns). In the knockout phase, the Americans beat Mexico thanks to another McBride goal before losing to Germany 1-0 in the next round – USMNT’s best World Cup performance in 72 years (and since).
Kelly Clarkson wins American Idolfor the first time
Fault! The file name is not specified. Kelly Clarkson wins the first season of American Idol out of 4. September 2002 at the Kodak Theatre in Hollywood. SGranitz/WireImage via Getty Images
American Idol will premiere with Simon Cowell, Paula Abdul and Randy Jackson in the Reality TV Singers Competition. Out of around 10,000 contestants in the first season, Clarkson beat Justin Guarini in the finals with Before Your Love, Respect and A Moment Like This, which became the number one song on the Billboard Hot 100 and the best-selling song of the year. Clarkson landed a record deal with RCA, American Idol soon became a TV show host, and Clarkson’s first concert tour included a stop in Cleveland during Browns’ Week 10 bye.
Buckeyes win thenational title
Fault! The file name is not specified. Ohio State guard Maurice Hall (28) celebrates the victory of the Buckeyes’ National Championship over Miami at the Fiesta Bowl in Tempe, Arizona. 3. January 2003. Photos by Jamie Schwaberow/NCAA through Getty Images.
Led by sophomore head coach Jim Tressel, who played varsity basketball in Baldwin Wallace, less than a mile from the Browns’ training center, Ohio enters the regular season with a 13-0 record, winning six of those games by a touchdown or less. Then, in the BCS National Fiesta Bowl Championship against Miami, the 12-point lead of the state of Ohio creates one of the biggest surprises in the history of college football. A controversial fourth period pass against Miami gave the Buckeyes another chance to win the first overtime before winning 31-24 in the second to win the school’s first national championship since 1968.
Michael Vick participates in his first Pro Bowl.
Fault! The file name is not specified. In 2002, Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick played in his first Pro Bowl and eventually made the cover of the Madden ’04 video game. Todd Rosenberg/NFL Pictures
First place overall in 2001 was chosen for the Pro Bowl a year later after running almost 3,000 meters and 777 other meters. In December, Vick set the NFL record for most yards by a quarterback in a game with 173. But in the regular season finals, the Browns kept Vick at bay and beat the Falcons to move on to the playoffs. The Falcons also reached the play-offs with a win against the Packers before losing in the league round. Vick later appeared on the cover of Madden with a speed rating of 95, making him the most dominant player in the history of video games.
European Union adopts the euro
Fault! File name not specified. On the 1st. As from 1 January 2002, euro notes and coins will officially replace the currencies of a dozen EU Member States, making them superfluous. Fairfax Media through Getty Images
Euro notes and coins officially replace the currencies of a dozen EU countries, making the German mark, the French, Belgian and Luxembourg franc, the Dutch guilder, the Irish pound, the Austrian schilling, the Finnish mark, the Greek drachma, the Italian lira, the Portuguese escudo and the Spanish peseta obsolete. 5 (Greek/Roman), € 10 (Romanesque), € 20 (Gothic), € 50 (Renaissance) and € 100 (Baroque).
Nokia has its best selling mobile phone
Fault! The file name is not specified. Once upon a time, in the not so distant past, there was a world without iPhones. In 2002, the Finnish telecommunications equipment manufacturer Nokia dominated the mobile phone market with the launch of its first colour display and sales of over a million units. Siemens AG/Getty Images
The most popular phone of the day does not come from Apple, which is five years away from the first edition of the iPhone. Instead, the Finnish company Nokia continues to dominate the mobile phone market and launches the first colour phones, more than a million of which are sold. Nokia also launches its first phone with an integrated camera, which appears in the science fiction film Minority Report as Tom Cruise’s futuristic device.
Friends, Everyone Loves Raymond Dominate the Ranking
Fault! The file name is not specified. Despite the penultimate season in 2002, NBC’s Friends is still at the top of the Nielsen rankings, together with CSI and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. NBCU photo bank via Getty Images
Among the top 5 films of the year are Spider-Man, Star Wars: Episode II. The clone attack, Harry Potter and the room of secrets, the plates and my big Greek wedding. On the small screen is the penultimate season of Friends and CSI: Crime Venue Investigation covers Nielsen’s TV ratings, while the TV Guide 24, Buffy adds Vampire Butcher and Sopranos to his list of shows of the year. Everybody Loves Raymond is the second best sitcom starring native Patricia Heaton from Cleveland, whose father, Chuck Heaton, was a sports writer for the Cleveland Plain Dealer for a long time.
LeBron James to play on national television for the first time
Fault! The file name is not specified. St. John’s Senior Forward St. Mary’s, LeBron James, will play on the 12th. December 2002 at Cleveland State University Center against Oak Hill Academy. Sports wire symbol
Four days after the Browns retain their play-off hopes by scoring a Hail Mary against Jacksonville, James will make his national television debut on ESPN. As a senior at Akron St. Vincent-St. in St. Mary’s James lost 31 points and 13 rebounds to the Oak Hill Academy No. 1 team and immediately became an even bigger star. The Cleveland Cavaliers are holding James in northeast Ohio next summer, selecting him with the overall first choice in the NBA design.
Getting Lost – Number.
Fault! The file name is not specified. Rapper Eminem performs his hit Lose Yourself at the MTV Video Music Awards 2002. The song, from the 8 Mile soundtrack, won an Oscar for Best Original Song. J. Shearer/WireImage via Getty Images
When the Browns reach the end of the playoffs, Lose Yourself becomes rapper Eminem’s first single to reach the top of the Billboard Hot 100. Before the injured Tim Couch was replaced as quarterback of Cleveland and a play-off victory against Atlanta was achieved, Kelly Holcomb shouted lyrics during the warm-ups. Good song, he said afterwards. You only get one chance in life, and you have to take it. Good news. Lose Yourself, from the soundtrack to the movie 8 Mile, wins the Oscar for Best Original Song.
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