We’re now in the old AFL, meaning that the rest of the AFC will be included prior to any NFC teams. However, I still want to interchange the original NFL and AFL teams, so following the Houston Oilers (AFL), it’ll be the Cleveland Browns Logo history. The Browns joined the NFL in 1950 and in 1970 became one of three NFL teams to join the newly created AFC along with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Colts to balance out the conferences. Or else, the NFC would’ve had sixteen teams compared to ten for the AFC.
This gave both teams an equal number at thirteen apiece prior to the next round of expansion that would take place in 1976, and a second round in 1995. The final round of expansion came as a product of relocation when the Browns’ original roster and front office moved to Baltimore to become the Ravens while the Oilers moved to Nashville to become the Titans.
As a result, the final two cities to attain new franchises were Cleveland (technically the Browns were reactivated but treated as an expansion team while the Ravens are technically the league’s 31st franchise) and Houston, where the Texans started play in 2002 to replace the Oilers.
So, today we’re talking about the Browns’ logos and yes, the team’s logo is more than just a boring orange football helmet, contrary to popular belief.
Also contrary – the team wasn’t named after a color, but an individual who loved plain uniforms – which is why the Browns never put a logo on the helmet.
Ironically, the Browns probably have more primary and alternate logos than any other NFL team, or at least close to.
Anyway, enough rambling.
Let’s get on with the team’s logo history.
When the Browns debuted in 1946 as members of the All-America Football Conference, the primary logo was an elf dressed in brown and white apparel along with a crown atop its head. My source tells me this logo actually debuted in 1948 – likely to commemorate the team winning the first two AAFC titles in 1946 and 1947 – the team would go on to win the title again in 1948 with a perfect 14-0 record making the Browns the only active team in the NFL to go undefeated in a single season AND losing every game on the schedule in a single season (2017) from 1948-onward.
Related Article: Cleveland Browns Helmet History
In 1959 the more familiar elf decked out in orange and brown debuted, which saw the team win their fourth NFL Championship and eighth overall in 1964. Soon after, this logo began to be phased out by then-owner Art Modell, who felt it was too childish.
A plain, orange helmet. One version with the old, thin double-bar facemask debuted in 1970 and hung around until 1985, when a modern helmet for the era took over. In 1992, the logo changed to an even more modern upgrade of the helmet. This would also serve as the team’s primary logo when they returned to the NFL in 1999.
In 2006, the Browns altered their facemask to the classic gray color and reflected it in the logo until 2014.
In 2015, the Browns adopted a brown facemask for the first time in team history and altered their shade of orange to a more vibrant, modernized look much to the dismay of the fan base.
In 2020, this logo will most likely change, and the Browns may have hinted this over the past week with the release of their draft cap which features the 1959-1969 version of the Brownie Elf. I’ll update this post as soon as the Browns unveil their new uniforms but you can read what I wrote here.
The Browns first debuted an alternate logo in 1960 which consisted of the Brownie Elf running the football. When Modell phased out the elf logo, this alternate logo went with it and the team lacked an alternate logo of any kind until 2003, when the bulldog logo debuted along with the brown ‘B’ within a white football that bore brown-orange-brown horizontal striping. Both logos lasted until the 2014 season.
The Browns introduced a new alternate logo in 2015, which featured a snarling bulldog whose mouth was (whether coincidentally or purposefully) curled into what resembled the familiar Nike swoosh (the NFL’s official uniform manufacturer is Nike). An orange and brown version of this logo also debuted and it’s unclear if this logo will remain after the uniform swap scheduled to take place in April 2020.
Anniversary and Memorial Logos
When the Browns returned in 1999, they unveiled an Inaugural Season chest patch, which you can view here.
They also had a memorial sleeve patch to honor the late Al Lerner, who won the bidding war to buy the new Browns. This remained part of the team’s jersey until 2012 when Jimmy Haslam bought the team from Lerner’s son, Randy.
The Browns also wore an ‘AL’ chest patch as well.
The Browns have also had a memorial patch for Bill Willis, who died in 2007. Willis is significant to NFL history as he and three other players (including teammate Marion Motley) helped break the color barrier in professional football when he signed with the new Browns team in 1946.
Listen, Jimmy Haslam, the Elf has seen eight league championships and saw fifteen AAFC/NFL Championship appearances.
List of championship appearances since then – ZERO.
Zero Super Bowl appearances. An 0-3 record in the AFC Championship Game and a boatload of more misfortunes than Charlie Brown – who the team is NOT named after.
I’m the superstitious type so I’m on my knees praying that the Haslams do what’s right and return Brownie the Elf to primary status.
Related Article: Cleveland Browns Uniform History
It’s a shame they ever got rid of him in the first place but then again, former owner Art Modell proved to be cancer to the Browns and the City of Cleveland prior to winning his Super Bowl in Baltimore four years after hijacking the Browns.
Time for redemption, Jimmy.
This should be an easy decision – not a single Browns fan on the planet should have to mail you an instruction manual complete with pop-up pictures to make this decision.
I show a little more personality here than I do in my other historic posts because I’m a passionate Browns fan – so passionate that my urban fantasy novels depict a protagonist coalition decked out in orange and brown while the antagonists resemble the Steelers and Ravens – just a little fun fact, so please, take my off-color way of writing Browns-related posts with some salt.
It’s why I’ll never broadcast a game on CBS. But anyway, if you found anything inaccurate about this post, I want to know. If there’s something you want to add, let me know in the comments. Give me some feedback and tell me if there’s anything more you want to see from these historic articles.