The Cleveland Browns have been a punchline in the NFL for the better part of its existence. Since returning to the league in 1999, the team has had a revolving door of quarterbacks and coaches. The Browns are well known throughout the NFL for their simple uniforms and logo-less helmet. So, what’s the story behind the Browns’ lack of a logo?
The Cleveland Browns’ history
The Browns first began playing in 1946 in the now-defunct All-American Football Conference. The only team to ever win an AAFC championship — they won four — the Browns’ dominance was a big reason why the league folded. The Browns, San Francisco 49ers, and Baltimore Colts jumped ship to join the NFL in 1950.
The Browns won four NFL titles between 1950 and 1964. Sadly, the team has not won another since 1964, and they have yet to even qualify for a Super Bowl.
While Cleveland has struggled mightily in recent years, they still have a loyal fan base and one of the most recognizable color schemes in all of pro football. One of the most recognizable aspects of the Cleveland Browns’ logo is that they don’t really have one.
The Browns’ colors, mascot, and logo
The team has had two logos throughout its time in the league: the current logo featuring an orange football helmet and Brownie the Elf. According to USA Today, the team adopted Brownie the Elf as its mascot from 1948-69. Brownie resembled a children’s cartoon character.
It was an odd choice for a pro football logo. The character looked like it would be more comfortable at Santa’s workshop than on the gridiron:
“The association of the elf and the gridiron Browns begins in the late 1940s with Arthur McBride, who was the team’s owner at the time … McBride sought to make his team more recognizable and marketable with music, parades, marching bands, and so on. He also asked for submissions for mascot logos, and after careful consideration chose Brownie as the new face of the team.”
Brownie was a big hit with fans. For whatever reason, the character resonated with the Cleveland faithful. Unfortunately for Brownie fans, owner Art Modell hated it. He bought the team in 1961 and had the mascot eliminated by 1969.
In 1970, the Browns shifted to a logo featuring its football helmet, which remains largely unchanged (though it’s featured small, almost indistinguishable changes throughout the years).
The Browns’ current logo and mascots
The Browns recently changed logos, though the changes were about as subtle as one can be. According to a statement from the team via USA Today, “Our updated helmet logo is reflective of today’s modern Cleveland — the design honors the past while evolving into the future.”
The only real change? The color brown is featured more prominently with a brown stripe and facemask added to the helmet on the logo. Other than that, it remains mostly the same.
According to the Browns, however, the helmet’s new shade of orange “matches the passion of the Dawg Pound” and “the new brown facemask represents the strength and toughness of Cleveland.”
While Brownie the Elf has long been discontinued as the Browns’ mascot, the team currently has two: Swagger and Chomps. Both are dogs, though one is real and one is a more traditional sports mascot you’d see at Disney World. Swagger, a 120-pound bulldog, was born in 2013.