The year was 1946 and the world was still recovering from the largest war of the century. The country looked ahead to the future with optimism and a renewed sense of opportunity. New ventures were being developed. Men were going into business together. Entrepreneurs were striking deals.
One such man was Arch Ward; a businessman from Chicago. Arch’s idea wasn’t for a housing development or a faster brand of car, but rather for a game. A new football league to compete against the NFL: The All-America Football Conference.
Eight teams to play against each other with the goal of someday overtaking the already established NFL.
Who better to lead one of these teams than football genius Paul Brown?
Ward offered Brown a team in Cleveland. His salary was $17,500 and Brown had full authority over all football operations.
The Cleveland Browns were born.
Fast-forward 75 years and the Browns are still here and still climbing. In 2021, the Browns are set to celebrate their 75th anniversary with several possible new visual changes. What can we expect?
One of the plans announced by Executive VP J.W. Johnson was that of an alternate uniform for the upcoming season. Thankfully, the Browns went back to a more traditional look this past year to the relief of many who were sick of our 2015-19 eyesores. Adding an additional alternate this soon would be a bit surprising if not for the anniversary, but let’s dive in and see what these bad boys might look like.
First, let’s start at what we looked like 75 years ago.
In 1946, the Browns’ inaugural season, they wore white and browns jerseys, but with drop shadow numbers and white leather helmets. This was the only season that this particular iteration was worn. In 1947, the drop shadow numbers were scrapped, but the white helmet remained until the 1950 season.
In 1950, the Browns started wearing a new color on their head: orange. The orange helmet became synonymous with the Browns and has remained a staple down to this day.
Throughout the 50s, the Browns experimented with orange jerseys, helmet stripes and TV numbers on the sides of the helmets.
Finally, in the mid-60s, we see the Browns start to develop their classic look. White or brown jerseys, white pants, orange helmet with a classic stripe and gray face masks. This would be their base look for most of their existence.
In the 70s, a switch to orange pants and a white face mask was made. This look became synonymous with the “Kardiac Kids” and thus remains a favorite of many Browns fans today.
Thru the 80s and 90s, the Browns continued to keep the traditional look alive, with a few tweaks here or there.
In the early 2000s, the Browns introduced an orange alternate jersey that also brought back the drop shadow numbers. In my opinion, the Browns should stay away from ever wearing an orange jersey again, but many on the local Twittersphere are hoping for an all-orange alternate in 2021.
The Browns ditched their classic look in 2015, yet thankfully brought it back for the 2020 reboot.
So which ones will the Browns be donning this season? It seems likely that whichever duds are selected, they’re only worn for a game or two. Logic would tell you that for the 75th anniversary we would wear what we wore 75 years ago. This would mean a white helmet, which currently would not be allowed under the NFL’s “one shell” helmet rule. However, there is chatter that the rule could be lifted for the 2021 season, which would open a door for the Browns.
If that rule is not changed? My guess is we could be looking at something like what was worn in 2008 against the Giants: classic uniform with TV numbers on the helmets and a modified stripe. However, if the team decides to go modern, we could be in for the dreaded all-orange.
The Browns already released their anniversary logo, and it is gorgeous.
Where can we expect to see this logo?
All over. Everywhere. This is a marketing dream for the Cleveland Browns branding department. This will be sold on shirts, hoodies, socks, sweaters, stickers, coffee mugs, you name it.
We can also take a few hints from the Browns 60th anniversary celebration fifteen years ago and guess where we might see this logo on game day.
In 2006, The Browns wore their 60th-anniversary patch on their uniforms. It was a good look and if they decide to wear the 75th-anniversary logo as a patch, it will be an even better one.
Another spot we could see the new logo? Midfield. As with the orange uniforms, this has been another hot button twitter topic, as the Browns have not had a midfield logo in several seasons. Many feel that the field looks silly with no midfield logo, while many who enjoy minimalism and tradition, enjoy the classic and clean look of no logo. In 2006, as you can see from the very grainy (best I could do) photo above, the Browns again used their anniversary logo to mark the 50-yard line.
Now, to be clear, none of this stuff really matters. What matters is football. If you were to ask Browns coach Kevin Stefanski which uniforms he’d like to wear, or where he’d like to see certain logos, he would probably laugh you out of his office, telling you it doesn’t matter as long as we win. And he would be right.
But there’s nothing wrong with looking ahead to the future. There’s nothing wrong with wanting the team to look good. And there is nothing wrong with celebrating the past. After all, we have a long offseason ahead of us.