Kardiac Kids: The Story of the 1980 Cleveland Browns

Kardiac Kids: The Story of the 1980 Cleveland Browns

Kardiac Kids: The Story of the 1980 Cleveland Browns

Kardiac Kids: The Story of the 1980 Cleveland Browns

Synopsis

A heart-pounding journey through the most exciting season in Cleveland Browns' history

Every longtime Cleveland sports fan knows about "Red Right 88," the play that ended the Browns' 1980 season. Quarterback Brian Sipe's ill-fated throw, intended for tight end Ozzie Newsome, was intercepted by Oakland in the end zone, bringing to a halt Cleveland's "kardiac" campaign.

In Kardiac Kids Jonathan Knight paints a portrait of the Browns' storybook 1980 season and its impact on the city of Cleveland. Knight takes us through that unforgettable year from beginning to end, describing in great detail how the city simply fell in love with this team.

Though the Cleveland Browns boast four world championships and possess a rich and respected past, the magical 1980 season was clearly the most memorable in team history. Kardiac Kids is a tribute to that team.

Excerpt

Why do so many people remember the Kardiac Kids so fondly?

First, it was like a good movie. People will still watch classic movies and classic television shows. It was like the good guys against the bad guys, and there would always be that late charge after we were counted out. It just happened time after time. We saw it first in 1979, and it certainly peaked in 1980.

Second, it was the dramatics we provided in the way we won. It was incredibly exciting and entertaining. I’ll be at the grocery store today, and people will come up to me and say “thanks.” Whenever I’m at an airport or a mall, people are always, always reminding me of how wonderful it was. It was so much fun. It was a great run, and it means a great deal to me.

People tell me that the 1980 season provided the best times in Browns’ history. How ridiculous can that be after having Paul Brown and Blanton Collier as former coaches? People put us up there with those guys. People really enjoyed how we played, week after week. It was magic, and people would just sit and wait for it to happen.

Another reason why I think so many people identified with that team was that the nation itself was in need of a comeback. The unemployment percentage in the United States was in double digits at the time. In Youngstown, unemployment was at 20 or 25 percent. With so much going wrong in so many people’s lives in Northeast Ohio, they rallied around that team. It provided a great sense of community pride. Winning Coach of the Year in 1979 and 1980 was a great honor, but the most important thing to me was sharing the success with the city. It taught me a great lesson about coaching. I probably enjoyed myself more in those years than a lot of coaches who did a lot better than me ever enjoyed themselves.

I think Brian Sipe was the epitome of that team. He was a thirteenth-round draft choice and came in when the Browns were going with Mike Phipps. The necessity for Phipps to perform well was even more dramatic than it has been with Tim Couch in recent years, because not only was Phipps the No. 1 pick in the draft in 1970, but the Browns had given up Paul Warfield, a Hall-of-Fame receiver, to get him. So automatically, Brian Sipe became the underdog. He became the . . .

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