The Cleveland Browns went 1-15 last season for the worst record in the NFL, finishing 31st out of 32 teams in points scored and 30th in points allowed.

Still, if you squint you might be able to convince yourself they have a bright future. They have a respected coach in Hue Jackson and some multi-time Pro Bowlers like Joe Thomas and Joe Haden. Most importantly, they’ve got the top pick in the upcoming NFL Draft, with several potential stars on the board.

If you’re at all nodding along and thinking, “Yeah, maybe they do have a bright future,” you’re part of a long lineage of optimists. Since the Browns returned to Cleveland in 1999, someone has suggested almost every single year that the team had a bright future, only to be proven incorrect season after season.

Here’s the offending “bright future” comment, along with the team’s record the following season.

Before the 1999 season, the future was bright

“The new Cleveland Browns have done a masterful job of building the foundation for a bright future.”

– Pro Football Weekly headline, Aug. 10, 1999

Record the following season: 2-14

Before the 2005 season, the future was bright

“It’s going to get turned around now. You’re on the right track.”

– Jim Brown (via the Erie Times-News), Dec. 6, 2004

Record the following season: 6-10

During the 2006 season, the future was bright

“They’ve already proven to me that the foundation of this team is pretty strong. You’ve got a young quarterback [Charlie Frye] who can be a playmaker, and who has the trust of his teammates. You got a tight end [Kellen Winslow Jr.] who has backed up all his talk, and is clearly going to be a premier player in this league. And you have a defense that has lots of young talent, but is already pretty tough to play. So, yeah, I like where the Browns are going.”

– Sean Salisbury, via The Plain Dealer, Oct. 16, 2006

Record that season: 4-12

Going into 2007… no one really thought the future was bright

We legitimately couldn’t find any “future is bright” sentiments before the 2007 season, which is funny because…

Record the following season: 10-6

Before the 2008 season, the future was ‘finally’ bright

“With foundation in place, Savage sees bright future”

– Columbus Dispatch headline, Jan. 5, 2008

“Future finally bright for Browns”

The Lantern (Ohio State) headline, Jan. 10, 2008

Record the following season: 4-12

Looking ahead to the 2009 season, Brady Quinn was the answer

“The Browns’ future looks bright with Brady Quinn.”

– Butch Maier, The Plain Dealer, Nov. 7, 2008

Record the following season: 5-11

Entering 2010 the future was, you guessed it… bright

Record the following season: 5-11

The future was very bright heading into the 2011 season

Record the following season: 4-12

The future looked even brighter heading into 2012

Record the following season: 5-11

The future was bright with Brandon Weeden looking ahead to 2013

Record the following season: 4-12

That bright future still laid ahead in 2014

“Future looks bright for Cleveland Browns, Josh Gordon”

Bleacher Report headline, Dec. 1, 2013

Record the following season: 7-9

The future STILL felt bright going into 2015

“And when asked if the future is bright for the Browns at quarterback with Manziel, he said, ‘I definitely think so.'”, Sept. 24, 2015

Record the following season: 3-13

Yep, the future was bright entering 2016

Record the following season: 1-15

After all that, they still haven’t learned entering 2017

“Browns have reason to believe future is bright”

Fan Rag Sports headline, Dec. 1, 2016

“I think the track that we’re on, the trajectory, is a good one, starting with keeping the staff in place, keeping the management team in place,” Thomas said. “I think the stated goal this offseason is to start bringing in some free agents, resign some of our really quality young players, [and] obviously everybody knows about the number of draft picks we have.

“The path we’re on is great. We’ve got the right head coach. We’ve got the right management team. So I think definitely things are looking up for the Cleveland Browns.”

– Joe Thomas, via ESPN, Jan. 2, 2017

About Alex Putterman

Alex is a writer and editor for The Comeback and Awful Announcing. He has written for The Atlantic, VICE Sports,, and more. He is a proud alum of Northwestern University and The Daily Northwestern. You can find him on Twitter @AlexPutterman.