The CLEVELAND RAMS were the first prolonged and well-financed attempt to establish a professional football team in Cleveland. Damon "Buzz" Wetzel, star fullback at Ohio State Univ., organized the Rams in 1936 as part of the new 6-team American Football League. Financed by a group of local businessmen headed by attorney Homer H. Marshman, the team was a success on the gridiron, finishing 2nd in the league, but it struggled financially. After the Boston team canceled the AFL championship game because its unpaid players refused to participate, the Rams moved from the poorly managed league to the National Football League on 12 Feb. 1937.

Marshman and the other Rams stockholders paid $10,000 for an NFL franchise, then put up $55,000 to capitalize the new club. The new league was much tougher, however, and the Rams fared poorly on the field. Between 1937-42, the Rams' best finish was 3rd place in the Western Division, with 5 wins and 6 losses in 1942. In June 1941, Marshman and his partners sold the Rams to Daniel F. Reeves and Frederick Levy, Jr. for about $100,000. The club suspended operations in 1943 while both Reeves and Levy served in the military, and Reeves later purchased Levy's share of the team. After another poor season in 1944, the Rams had an excellent year in 1945. Under new head coach Adam Walsh and behind rookie quarterback Bob Waterfield, they were 9-1, finished 1st in the Western Division, and earned a narrow victory over the Washington Redskins in the NFL championship game. Despite its success in 1945, the club continually finished its seasons in debt. As the CLEVELAND BROWNS prepared to bring a well-publicized second professional football team to the city in 1946, Reeves decided to move the Rams to Los Angeles, opening the West Coast to major sports.


Cleveland Historical Logo

View more on Cleveland Historical


Sulecki, James C. The Cleveland Rams: The NFL Champs Who Left Too Soon, 1936–1945. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 2016.

Article Categories