Note: This was our April Fools joke for 2018.
Last week at the NFL’s annual league meeting, Cleveland Browns owner Dee Haslam confirmed that the team has already been talking to the NFL about modifying the team’s uniforms for the 2020 season. She also acknowledged that “they haven’t been very popular with our fans, and obviously we serve at the pleasure of our fans.”
Paul Lukas of Uni Watch said that the team might be able to make slight modifications for the 2018 season, such as removing the word “Cleveland” from the front of the jerseys and the word “Browns” from the pant legs. But now, in marketing-related news, we’ve learned something else: the team will reportedly phase out the Brownie the Elf mascot by 2019, leaving Chomps as the team’s sole mascot once again.
“We always try to be aware of public perception of our football team,” said Browns owner Jimmy Haslam. “Much like our baseball team has decided to phase out Chief Wahoo over the next season, we felt it would only be appropriate to do the same with Brownie the Elf, due to how it is perceived by some organizations.”
One of those organizations is the NCSP, which reportedly has tried to appeal to the NFL for years about the mascot mocking the height of certain individuals. It hasn’t gained any traction compared to what Native American groups did with Chief Wahoo at the opener every year, but it sounds like Cleveland wanted to nip something in the bud before it brought further embarrassment to the club.
“At the end of every season, part of my role of facilitating improved business processes also includes facilitating improved perception,” said Paul DePodesta, the team’s Chief Strategy Officer. “In a survey sent to 100 fans, 80% of them felt our product was offensive, which was staggering. One of the comments brought to light Brownie the Elf, so at least we can take that down to 79% now.”
This isn’t the first time that Brownie the Elf has been phased out of the team’s assortment of mascots. Popularized in 1946, the concept of using the elf came to a screeching halt in 1961 when former owner Art Modell purchased the club and said, “My first official act as owner of the Browns will be to get rid of that little (elf).”
When the team returned to the NFL in 1999, the elf started being used in a few marketing campaigns again, and the actual mascot made his debut in 2013. But he has also been tied to the poor on-field product, as you may recall from this clip:
Personally, I wish the Browns would actually treat Brownie the Elf more seriously when marketing the team. And DePodesta’s comments about the matter are just completely asinine, which makes me a tad nervous about how this 2020 redesign will go. But, on the same token, the elf has been used so little in my lifetime that losing out on him won’t be nearly as big as losing out on Chief Wahoo.
For more information on the story, check out Tony Grossi's full report, which goes through more details about the reasoning behind the move, why Grossi also finds the elf to be offensive, and more.