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TBT: What happened the last time the Browns played in London?

Months before the Browns were to face the Eagles in London for the 1989 American Bowl, Bernie Kosar flew overseas on the Concorde to promote the preseason matchup.

He was quickly taken aback by what he saw and experienced -- and it had nothing to do with Big Ben or London Bridge.

"It was amazing how they knew me,' said Kosar, according to a 1989 UPI article. "We ran a clinic for some kids 11 or 12 years old and they knew all about me. They knew statistics. They knew all about the Central Division. One kid even asked me why the Cincinnati Bengals didn't sign any free agents. Nobody in Cleveland ever asked me that question." [



Kosar was one of the Browns' star attractions the last time Cleveland played a football game in London, a preseason opener dubbed "American Bowl IV" at Wembley Stadium. He didn't have much of an impact on the game -- he was pulled early with the rest of the Browns' starters -- but he was a part of an experience he'll never forget.

The Browns, of course, head to London later this evening to prepare for their Sunday showdown with the Minnesota Vikings at Twickenham Stadium. Browns offensive lineman Joel Bitonio went on a media tour this past summer similar to the one Kosar experienced. Needless to say, it was a much different set of circumstances, as NFL games in London are now old hat for the city's natives, who will watch the fourth of four this season play out Sunday.

The Eagles and Browns were the fourth set of teams to play a preseason game at London's Wembley Stadium in as many seasons when they took the field more than 28 years ago. It was a relatively high-profile matchup, as the Buddy Ryan-led Eagles were coming off a 10-6, first-place season while the Browns, under new head coach Bud Carson, were also entering the 1989 season with strong reason to believe they'd be back in the playoffs.

It marked the Browns' second of three international preseason games from 1988 (Montreal) to 1993 (Toronto).

The Browns arrived a week before the game and were welcomed by unseasonably cold temperatures. Within a few hours of landing, the team was practicing at London's famous Hyde Park. Offensive tackle Cody Risien was the only player to not make the trip because of an elbow injury.

''This is a great opportunity for us to work against another team in pre-season rather than just practice among ourselves,'' Browns public relations official Bob Eller told the New York Times.

By the time the game started, order was restored with the weather. Temperatures soared into the 80s for the afternoon kickoff. Charlie Jones and Merlin Olsen called the game on NBC Sports. The U.S. and British national anthems were sung before the game, "the wave" happened at some point and there was a streaker.

As for the game, it was "marked by the usual preseason blend of turnovers, penalties and occasional flashes of youthful brilliance." For Philadelphia, the young star was Henry "Gizmo" Williams, who played the previous year in the Canadian Football League. He caught the game-winning touchdown and punctuated it with a flip into the end zone.

For the Browns, third-string quarterback Mike Pagel tossed two touchdown passes in the second half. The first went 22 yards to running back George Swarn and the second was a short, 2-yarder to Derek Tennell.

Twenty-eight years later, the Browns will look to get back in the end zone across the pond against the Vikings.

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