For 2022, the Browns had a contest in which the fans could vote on the new midfield logo plus the end zone markings. To no surprise, the winner is the original cartoon of Brownie the Elf.
Well, sort of.
Actually, there are many new aspects of the old beloved logo. More on that later. The origins of Brownie the Elf are lengthy, so here are the highlights.
The first depiction of Brownie the Elf appeared in a Cleveland Plain-Dealer ad for the upcoming Browns home game against the Miami Seahawks to be played on September 6 at Cleveland Municipal Stadium which held 81,000.
The Cleveland Rams had captured the NFL title in 1945 and promptly moved to Los Angeles when the new All-America Football Conference began its maiden season in 1946 and Cleveland was awarded a franchise.
The new Cleveland team was coached by Paul Brown, then the most famous sports person in the State of Ohio. The Rams did not wish to compete against anything Coach Brown touched, plus their gate wasn’t very good every season. They played their home games in League Park, a baseball stadium which seated only 22,500 patrons. In their final year in Cleveland, the Rams lost $64,000 despite winning the league title.
After Cleveland was officially christened the “Browns,” owner Mickey McBride wanted a logo to represent his new club. He was a big Notre Dame fan and loved their fighting Irishman depiction. But what type of logo does “the Browns” conjure up? A dessert? Mud? Steelers fans can give you a good answer here of a dollop of some dog extraction.
McBride discovered the brownies. These were mythical creatures invented by the Northern English. They wanted something to encourage young children and servants to do their chores. Their invention of the Brownies was that these creatures would come out at night and help out. This in itself made children and the help very curious so they continued with the work until it was done.
Every AAFC and NFL club had their own cartoon logo. The San Francisco 49ers displayed a rootin’ tootin’ gunslinger. The New York Football Giants had this enormous quarterback standing in the middle of the Polo Grounds. The Pittsburgh Steelers logo was a steelworker complete with hard hat kicking a football while on a steel girder.
Which means that childish drawings of their team was the norm.
Now that McBride had his logo idea set, Paul Brown knew an artist named A.D. Small from his Massillon coaching days. Small had been commissioned to do an artistic plaque for Coach Brown after he won his first state high school championship. Small drew the brownie character to suit the game of football. It then appeared in the first game advertisement.
Paul Brown named the character “Brownie” after a root beer sign painted on a downtown building in downtown Massillon. The logo for Brownie Caramel Creme Root Beer was a impish creature that resembled the English brownies. Brownie Root Beer began production in 1929 and recently the original recipe was purchased and the brand is sold at various supermarkets and online at sodaemporium.com.
After the Browns had won two straight AAFC titles, in 1948 Brownie was depicted wearing a crown. At one point, he was called “Brownie Elf.” The heightened interest in Brownie was the direct result of Plain-Dealer cartoonist Dick Dugan. He would depict Brownie (or Chief Wahoo for the Indians) for every game. A reader could tell if the Browns or Indians had won just by looking at the cartoon.
Tommy Flynn, a little person, was the Browns assistant equipment manager who would dress up as Brownie on game days. In 1950 when Cleveland merged into the NFL, the established league got rid of Flynn’s sideline antics claiming “minor league stuff.”
In 1953, only two NFL clubs had helmet logos - the Los Angeles Rams and Baltimore Colts. Coach Brown required his trainer, Leo Murphy, to paint a helmet with Brownie on the sides to gauge what it would look like. Once finished, Coach Brown took one look and said he hated it and that was that. Upon Murphy’s death, his children found that very helmet in their father’s basement.
Art Modell bought the Browns in 1961 and shelved Brownie - permanently. Modell was quoted as saying, “My first official act as owner of the Browns will be to get rid of that little f***er.”
And that is exactly what happened. The 1961 media guide displayed Brownie while the 1962 version pictured Jim Brown.
When Al Lerner and Carmen Policy bought the new Browns in 1999, they re-instated Brownie. Several training camps have used Brownie as the camp logo: 2006, 2018 and 2022. Cleveland’s sideline poncho in 2009 had a Brownie appearance. The Browns alumni logo has Brownie as its centerpiece.
After the Haslams bought the Browns, a petition was started asking that the Brownie logo be abolished. If you agree, then sign up and you can be #16 on their list at https://www.change.org/p/cleveland-browns-the-brownie-elf-most-be-abolsih. Note that “abolish” is misspelled.
In 2020, New Era produced a cap that looked like Brownie was in “blackface.”
So, here is a situation. If Brownie is a Brownie and not an elf, why is he called Brownie the Elf? Where did “elf” even come from? They aren’t the Cleveland Elves. And if he is not an elf, but a brownie, shouldn’t he be “Brownie the Brownie?”
DBN contacted the Browns media relations department. Their response was, that if his name is “Brownie the Elf” then he must be an elf.
Okay, back to the new logo at midfield.
First off, it is friggin’ huge, colorful and looks great if you are a Browns fan who grew up with Brownie.
When comparing the original drawing of Small’s, there are some differences.
For one, his face appears more impish now instead of that of a small boy. Secondly, his rosy cheeks are missing. Next, his hair is no longer in strands but one big grouping. Fourth observation, his hat is smaller. Number 5: Brownie is now in short sleeves. Seis, look at his thumb on the stiff arm. It looks more like a finger, and it is positioned oddly off his hand. 7: Brownie is shorter. His front extended leg has been shortened. And finally, this is huge: his shoes are no longer cleats.
What say you? Do you like the new midfield logo?
I like that the space station can see it
Not a fan
Would have preferred the Browns helmet instead
Would have preferred a dawg rendering instead