The Cleveland Browns are invoking nostalgia with their newly unveiled midfield logo, Brownie the Elf.
This marks the return of the midfield logo to FirstEnergy Stadium for the first time since 2016. Previously, the Browns were the only team in the league without a logo at the 50-yard line.
Midfield logos have become an easy way for teams to spice up their arena without undergoing a complete makeover and often allow for creative outlets to honor the franchise. As recently as 2020, the NFL released new guidelines limiting logos to between the 40-yard lines or to not exceed 1200 square feet, whichever comes first.
The design will be front and center as the Browns host the Jets this Sunday in their home opener.
Here’s a look at the history of Brownies the Elf:
What is Brownie the Elf?
As team mascots go, Brownie the Elf might be one of the most elusive in sports. But options are slim for a team named after their first coach -- Paul E. Brown.
With the Cleveland Rams fresh off an NFL title and on a one-way trip to Hollywood, the Browns arrived in Ohio without a clear identity. They were originally called “Paul Brown’s team,” before owner Mickey McBride eventually convinced the NFL to begrudgingly accept the Browns.
A real estate and taxi mogul, McBride understood the value of marketing. A football team was no different than all his other assets. He opted for a little known mythical creature called a Brownie.
Brownies date back to old Scottish folklore. Typically men, the elf-like creatures were known to emerge at night to work around the house and farm. They were described as being incredibly mischievous and temperamental if not treated correctly within the home.
How did this come to represent an entire NFL franchise?
There’s some debate over how McBride came to choose the mystical creature, with some suggesting it was a fan submission or an homage to the Notre Dame leprechaun, his son’s alma mater.
Regardless, McBride really took to the mischievous nature, opting to use this foundational character to create their own rendition of a Brownie, complete with Cleveland’s colors. The creature, as designed by the team, first appeared in a newspaper ticket ad ahead of the 1946 season opener against the Miami Seahawks.
The Browns have since introduced Chomps, a labrador, as their mascot. They have also briefly welcomed Swagger, or SJ, a bullmastiff as their first live mascot. Swagger died in 2020 at the age of six.
What will Brownie the Elf look like on the field?
The midfield logo won’t just be any dusty elf. As the video released by the Browns revealed on Tuesday, Brownie the Elf is mid run, with his right hand held out to stiff arm any oncoming defenders.
The Browns will look to channel that same energy this season.
Who determined the new midfield logo?
The decision for the new logo was made by … the people. In an effort to increase overall fan engagement, the team released a poll asking fans to decide on the midfield logo.
“We really wanted to engage our fans in the process, and they are -- as I’ve said multiple times -- undefeated,” JW Johnson, Browns Executive Vice President and Partner, said.
While most teams go with more traditional helmets or logos, Johnson said he and other executives were excited about the opportunity to bring Brownie back into the fold of the Browns’ tradition and was ultimately pleased with the fans’ decision.
“We love the helmet logo, but Brownie has been around for a long time,” Johnson said. “I think people enjoy him and we haven’t really showcased him as much as we’d like to. … We decided we should bring him back. It’s been well-received.”
What other features will the new field include?
In addition to the “Running Brownie” logo, fans will be treated to a few more decorative features to kick off the new season.
The end zones at FirstEnergy stadium will feature the side view of the orange helmet logo, the red AFC logo and white “Browns” script.
All this and more will be on display this Sunday when the Browns make their home debut against the New York Jets. Kickoff is scheduled for 1 p.m. ET.