Who’s Brownie the Elf? Tale of the Cleveland Browns mascot

CLEVELAND — No person, a minimum of nonetheless dwelling, is aware of evidently how Brownie the Elf got here to be the primary professional mascot of the Cleveland Browns some 76 years in the past.

But one truth is sure: It used to be Artwork Modell who put the elf at the shelf after purchasing the crew in 1961.

“My first professional act as proprietor of the Browns,” Modell informed newspaper newshounds on the time, “will probably be to do away with that little f—er.”

Brownie is again — and larger than ever.

Topping a preseason on-line fan vote, Brownie has returned because the crew’s midfield brand, an outsized rendition of his unique mysterious look previous Cleveland’s inaugural season in 1946.

The most recent cartoon of Brownie spans the 45-yard strains horizontally, exceeds the hashmarks vertically, and can also be simply noticed from airplanes passing overhead.

And in case you are bemused about Brownie’s lifestyles as an NFL mascot, smartly, you are now not on my own.

“I have no idea what to take into consideration it,” Cleveland pass-rusher Myles Garrett mentioned. “It is unique, it is distinctive. However I have at all times been extra of partial to the canine. I imply, we are the Dawg Pound, however we’ve got were given an elf?

“I feel we are a little bit bit at a loss for words on what direction we need to pass creatively.”

Some of the inexplicable losses in franchise historical past sullied Brownie’s grandiloquent midfield debut on Sunday. Cleveland become the primary crew in 21 years to blow a 13-point lead within the ultimate two mins. With 1:55 to play, the New York Jets scored a 66-yard landing, recovered an onside kick, then scored every other landing to stun the Browns, 31-30. In every other fan ballot by way of 850 ESPN Cleveland, greater than 5% of electorate in reality blamed Brownie for the defeat.

Brownie could be 0-1 as Cleveland’s midfield brand heading into Thursday evening’s conflict with the Pittsburgh Steelers (8:15 p.m. ET, High Video). However greater than seven many years in the past, Brownie used to be the boyish face of professional soccer’s maximum dominant dynasty. So prolific, he very just about as soon as become the brand at the helmet.


THE LEGEND OF the Brownies started in Britain and dates again to a minimum of the early sixteenth century. In step with John T. Kruse, an creator and blogger of British fairy lore, the primary revealed connection with the Brownies got here in 1522.

“He is a small, bushy … creature that lives in properties and farms with other people,” Kruse informed ESPN of the legendary beings. “He undertakes a spread of home and agricultural chores at the working out that he will get loose board and accommodation from the people.”

In spite of their diligence, Brownies can also be somewhat finicky.

Kruse famous that Brownies admire milk and contemporary bread being not noted for them at evening. However they loathe being spied on, whether or not operating or consuming. And so they particularly despise each compliments and criticisms.

“Any reward of garments actually antagonizes him. It is noticed as an insult or some form of subjection,” Kruse mentioned. “The standard results of that is that he’s going to undo the entirety he is executed, make a large number in the home, then depart endlessly.”

The Dobby persona in J.Okay. Rowling’s Harry Potter books is derived from the Brownie legend, which started to floor in The united states within the early twentieth Century. In 1916, the Woman Scouts, referencing the similar Brownie legend, began calling their individuals ages 7-9 “Brownies,” taken from the tale “The Brownies and Different Stories” through Juliana Horatia Ewing, which used to be in the beginning revealed in 1870.

In 1929, the Atlas Beverage Corporate in Detroit started generating a Brownie caramel cream root beer, whose bottles have been embellished with an elf. The corporate quickly put an indication promoting the soda at the facet of a construction in downtown Massillon, Ohio.

Off that, so the tale is going, Brownie the Elf used to be born.


BEFORE PAUL BROWN used to be successful NFL titles as trainer of the Cleveland Browns, he used to be stacking state championships at Massillon Prime Faculty.

Going into his ultimate season at Massillon in 1940, Brown commissioned an area artist, A.D. Small, with developing an emblem for the Tigers — Obie (which stands for orange and black, Massillon’s colours).

After serving within the U.S. Military throughout Global Conflict II, Brown used to be employed to train Cleveland’s new professional soccer franchise. Proprietor Mickey McBride and the crew held a fan contest to decide the nickname. “Browns” used to be the successful submission, in honor of the primary trainer. Brown to begin with vetoed it. Any other submission — the “Panthers” — used to be selected as an alternative, till an area businessman knowledgeable the crew that he owned the rights to “Cleveland Panthers.” Brown after all relented at the title “Browns.”

Subsequent, the crew wanted an emblem.

“However what does ‘Browns’ constitute?” mentioned Browns historian Barry Shuck, who is been pursuing the Brownie the Elf foundation tale for years. “Dust? A dessert? Canine poop?”

Did Brown get a hold of the speculation for Brownie the Elf from that root beer check in Massillon? And did he, once more, have Small produce the drawing?

“When you take a look at Obie and also you take a look at Brownie, it is the identical persona,” mentioned Shuck, who additionally writes for the Browns web site DawgsByNature.com. “They are each operating. They each were given a stiff arm. They are each dressed in a hat.”

The Cleveland-area newspapers made no point out of Brownie till he seemed in an advert selling price ticket gross sales days sooner than the Browns’ first recreation in opposition to the Miami Seahawks in 1946.

Steve King, an established sportswriter in Northeast Ohio who therefore labored for the Browns from 2004-13, has additionally spent years digging into Brownie the Elf’s conception. He even as soon as requested Paul Brown’s son, Cincinnati Bengals proprietor Mike Brown, if he knew the place Brownie got here from (Mike Brown did not).

But thru his analysis, King got here to the similar conclusion as Shuck.

“I am positive I have gotten as shut as someone used to be going to get,” King mentioned. “In actual fact buried in a cemetery someplace — and I have no idea the place. … however the thriller of Brownie is what makes it so cool.”


PROPELLED BY PAUL BROWN, Otto Graham, Lou Groza and, sure, Brownie the Elf, the Cleveland Browns received 4 consecutive All-The united states Soccer Convention titles from 1946-49.

Tommy Flynn, an assistant apparatus supervisor, would get dressed up like Brownie on recreation days and emulate Brown at the sidelines.

“If Paul Brown threw his fingers up, Tommy Flynn would throw his fingers up,” Shuck mentioned. “If Paul Brown took his hat off and slammed it at the floor, Tommy Flynn would take his hat off and slam it at the floor.”

Flynn’s antics went away when the Browns joined the NFL in 1950. However Brownie the Elf and Cleveland’s successful tactics remained. The Browns received every other championship of their first season within the NFL.

By means of 1953, Brown sought after to exhibit Brownie much more. He tasked Browns teacher Leo Murphy with hanging the Brownie brand on certainly one of Cleveland’s orange helmets to peer what it could appear to be.

“Leo after all will get it executed and he is all proud,” King mentioned. “He walks in Paul Brown’s workplace [and] units it on his table. However Brown took one take a look at it and mentioned, ‘I do not love it. Take it away.'”

A long time later, King used to be visiting Murphy’s space in Medina, Ohio, when Murphy mentioned he had a secret to turn him.

“He is going again and brings out this Browns helmet,” King recalled. “And it has got Brownie the Elf at the facet. … he saved the helmet all the ones years, which used to be fantastic.”

Murphy died in 2018. No matter become of his Brownie helmet is a thriller, as smartly.


BROWNIE THE ELF seemed at the quilt of Cleveland’s media information in 1961 for the overall time. Modell purchased the crew and banished Brownie. A 12 months later, the media information quilt featured superstar operating again Jim Brown as an alternative.

However for the next 30-plus years, Cleveland Undeniable-Broker cartoonist Dick Dugan helped stay Brownie’s spirit alive. A reader may just inform if the Browns had received or misplaced simply by taking a look at Dugan’s Brownie cartoons.

“My first professional act as proprietor of the Browns will probably be to do away with that little f—er.”

Former Browns proprietor Artwork Modell

“If the Browns received, the elf used to be all proud or no matter,” King mentioned. “If the Browns misplaced, he gave the impression of he were crushed up in a battle.”

In 1995, Modell infamously took away the Browns, relocating the franchise to Baltimore. But if proprietor Al Lerner and president Carmen Coverage introduced the Browns again 4 years later, they reinstated Brownie.

Regularly, the legend has returned, as smartly.

Brownie used to be the crew’s professional coaching camp brand in 2006. The Brownie sideline mascot made his debut in 2015.

Kevin Stefanski has worn a Brownie the Elf cap virtually each day since turning into Cleveland’s head trainer in 2020. And this 12 months, Brownie is at the sleeve of the crew’s walkthrough jerseys.

Now, he is the face of Cleveland’s box.

“We received seven championships with the elf?” Garrett requested. “If we get an 8th championship with that elf, I may are available right here with a little bit elf outfit on.”

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