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Browns should be a strong candidate for Hall of Fame Game

With Joe Thomas set for enshrinement as a member of the Class of 2023, the NFL should give the nod to the Browns for a spot in the annual game.

Cleveland Brown fans, led by John “Big Dawg” Thomp Photo credit should read DAVID MAXWELL/AFP via Getty Images

Cleveland Browns fans may be getting a bonus this summer as the team should be a strong candidate to play in the annual Pro Football Hall of Game in August.

The Browns last played in the game, which takes place in Canton during the run-up to the induction ceremonies for the latest Hall of Fame class, in 1999. With Joe Thomas being named on Thursday as a member of the Class of 2023, it would be a no-brainer for the league to select the Browns as one of the teams for the game.

Cleveland needs an opponent, of course, and the New York Jets appear to be a strong candidate as former Jets players Darrelle Revis and Joe Klecko are joining Thomas as members of this year’s enshrinement class, according to’s Mary Kay Cabot:

Having the Browns and Jets play in the game makes so much sense that the NFL should just announce the pairing before they find a way to mess things up. Canton will be packed with Browns fans, who have not seen a player enshrined in the Hall of Fame since Ozzie Newsome in 1999, and a large number of Jets fans should also be in attendance.

It has been 31 years since the Jets last played in the game, so this would be the perfect opportunity to bring them back.

The first Hall of Fame Game took place in 1962 with the New York Giants taking on the St. Louis Cardinals. The Browns made their initial appearance in the game the following season, which coincided with the official opening of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, and lost to the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 16-7.

Cleveland returned to the game in 1967, where they lost to the Philadelphia Eagles by a score of 28-13, again in 1981 with a 24-10 win against the Atlanta Falcons, in 1990 with a 13-0 loss to the Chicago Bears, and in 1999 with a 20-17 defeat of the Dallas Cowboys.

The game has been an annual event on the NFL calendar except for 1966, when no game was scheduled, 2011, when the game was canceled due to the NFL lockout, 2016, when poor field conditions led to a cancellation, and in 2022 because of the pandemic.

The Hall of Fame game will take place on August 3 at Tom Benson Stadium in Canton. The Class of 2023 will be enshrined on August 5.