From a helicopter perch high above the city, Fox 8's Patty Harken snapped this shot of the Cleveland Browns' new midfield logo at FirstEnergy Stadium, which should be a welcome sight for all Browns fans.
That's Brownie the Elf, specifically the fierce halfback Brownie the Elf alternate logo version that first appeared in 1946
and was in heavy use from 1960-1969, adorning the turf.
The team, which hasn't used a midfield emblem in recent years, opened up votes on this year's field design to fans back in July.
And the fans seem to have made the right decision.
Brownie has gone in and out of vogue during the decades based largely on the whims of the various owners and front office members.
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. During a string of four incredibly successful seasons from 1946-49 (each of which resulted in an All American Football Conference championship), 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.
("Brownies" date back far before football, all the way back to folklore, where they were elf-like creatures who helped out with household chores as long as you left them little goodies to eat. Palmer Cox was one of the first artists to illustrate Brownie on a consistent basis in his cartoons. He began drawing and using the elves in advertising work that he produced for different companies, including Kodak.)
Brownie got an update around 1950 and looked like this until 1969
. Alternate logos included an orange elf from 1950-69
, and the halfback elf from 1960-69
. After the Browns won the NFL title in 1964, Brownie was often depicted with a crown signifying the team's achievement.
Even representatives from the Cleveland Browns are befuddled as to the exact origin, date, and key figures in the creation of the logo. However, many of the earliest versions of the elf are credited to Dick Dugan, who became the sports cartoonist for the Cleveland Plain Dealer and often depicted Brownie in battle against the team's opponents, like the Broncos.
Fans loved it, and so too did Paul Brown, who in 1953 proposed putting Brownie on the helmet, but dismissed the idea after seeing mock-ups created by then trainer Leo Murphy.
So, what do you do with a beloved logo?
Well, if you're Art Modell, you get rid of it. Apparently, Modell, who became the team's owner in 1961, was completely embarrassed by the elf and hated it so much that in the mid-1960s he began to phase it out. Yes, in addition to taking the team from Cleveland, Modell also was responsible for putting the lovable Brownie on the unemployment line.
Thankfully, when the Browns were resurrected in 1999, Brownie got a new lease on life. Randy Lerner has made a big push to use the elf logo more and more for the organization. "I think it's a great anchor for our tradition and for the look and feel of the Browns," he has said. "But I also understand that there is something to freshening up the act, so I think that's a balancing act we're having right now."
The Haslam era has seen Brownie appear in various versions across merchandise and promo material, and now, the most prominent place in the stadium itself.