Book “The Cleveland Rams” Wins Nelson Ross Award from PFRA

nelson-ross-award-iiAuthor James C. Sulecki has won the 2016 Nelson Ross Award from the Professional Football Researchers Association (PFRA) for his book The Cleveland Rams: The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon, 1936–1945.

The Nelson Ross Award has been presented annually since 1988 for “outstanding achievement in pro football research and historiography.” Previous winners include Dan Daly for National Forgotten League (2012), Michael MacCambridge for America’s Game: The Epic Story of How Pro Football Captured a Nation (2004), and Tod Maher and Bob Gill for The Pro Football Encyclopedia (1997).

The Cleveland Rams was published in late 2016 by McFarland.


2016 Browns Surpass the 1937 Rams As Cleveland’s All-Time Worst NFL Team. But There Is Hope

Take heart, Cleveland. As the new book “The Cleveland Rams” recounts, the city’s previous all-time losers went from worst to first in seven seasons.

January 8, 2017  |  Cleveland — For 79 years, the 1937 Cleveland Rams and their 1–10 record (.090) stood as an exemplar of futility for NFL football in Cleveland.

 No more. The Browns’ just-completed 1–15 season (.067) not only is the worst for the franchise, it also set an all-time new low among Cleveland NFL franchises dating back nearly 100 years.
Yet for the historically minded football fan, the Rams and their turnaround should offer some hope.
Admitted to the NFL as an expansion team, the Rams did even worse in their inaugural year than did the Browns of 1999 (2–14, .125). To make matters worse, they started the following season by going 0–3. It was a dismal 1–13 beginning for today’s L.A. Rams franchise.
But then in just seven seasons pockmarked by World War II, the Rams went from worst to first, winning the 1945 NFL Championship Game at Cleveland Municipal Stadium behind Bob Waterfield, who to this day is the only quarterback ever to win an NFL title in his rookie year.
Yet even then, there was a very Cleveland-like reversal of fortune. Only 27 days after the title game, Rams owner Daniel F. Reeves announced he was transferring his franchise to L.A. under circumstances not unlike Art Modell’s move of the Browns to Baltimore precisely 50 years later.
Cleveland-area author James C. Sulecki recounts these astounding stories and others in his newly published football history book, The Cleveland Rams: The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon, 1936–1945 (McFarland, 2016)—the first full accounting of the origins of today’s billion-dollar Rams franchise in 1930s and 1940s industrial Cleveland. It’s a story whose tragedies and lessons still resonate today.

Author to Recast the Legacy of Cleveland’s, and the NFL’s, Most Forgotten Champions

The Cleveland Rams won an unexpected NFL title in 1945 and moved 27 days later—and for reasons that will reshape the historical narrative about today’s L.A. Rams

July 5, 2016  |  Mentor, Ohio — James C. Sulecki, author of the forthcoming book The Cleveland Rams: The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon, 1936–1945 (McFarland & Company, $35.00), has used deep archival research to set straight a story that has haunted many Cleveland sports fans for three-quarters of a century: Why and how the pro football team could leave the city only 27 days after winning the 1945 championship.

The reasons were far more complex than the start-up of the new Cleveland Browns of the All-America Football Conference, Sulecki learned. The Rams were gelling rapidly as an organization, support for the team was galvanizing in the city, and Cleveland fans fully expected to enjoy watching not one but two winning pro football teams in 1946. But then young Rams owner Daniel F. Reeves pressured his fellow NFL owners into granting permission to do something he had intended from the moment he bought the team five years earlier: move it to another city.

Turmoil and enduring change erupted in the wake of Reeves’s decision even as a citywide newspaper strike muffled public reaction in Cleveland. The Rams wandered from Cleveland to Los Angeles to Anaheim and then to St. Louis. And now as the rootless Rams settle back in Los Angeles this autumn to begin another chapter, “the timing of the book’s publication couldn’t be more ideal,” Sulecki said. “Fans of the team and of the NFL in general never will see today’s Rams franchise in the same light again.”

McFarland & Company has set an October 2016 release for The Cleveland Rams. Print and e-book editions will be available online through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and IndieBound and through the publisher’s website at