Yes, the logoless Cleveland Browns helmet has a history, despite it remaining essentially the same throughout the years. We’re all used to the plain orange shells…or were there changes?
In fact, yes, there are really multiple shell colors in the Browns’ helmet history.
Don’t believe me?
Take a look at this outline of the Browns’ uniform at the link here.
But, there is so much more than just the old white leatherheads, despite all the championships those lids won.
Let’s take a look at an in-depth history for this iconic helmet.
1946-1951: AAFC and Early NFL Years
The Browns debuted with white helmets in the inaugural season of the old All-America Football Conference (AAFC). These old leatherhead helmets were solid white with no markings.
In 1950 and 1951, the Browns wore the same white helmets during day games and solid orange helmets during night games, giving off a hybrid look during the team’s early NFL days, a forgotten look but a championship one indeed, as the Browns won the old AAFC in all four of the league’s seasons, as well as their inaugural season in 1950.
During the Browns’ first few seasons in the NFL, they phased out the white in favor of orange, debuting solid orange helmets with a single white stripe. Starting in 1957, they added brown to the outer portion of the stripe, which is seen on the helmets to this day, so maybe not much has changed for the majority of the team’s history, but hold on for a few moments!
Also, during the 1950s, they added brown numbers to the sides of their helmet, giving the team their first “helmet logo” in their history. Now, there’s some change we can all believe in, especially when they brought the look back for a few years in the mid-to-late 2000s.
In 1960, the Browns dropped the side numerals and opted instead for the solid orange look, again, which is seen from the team today.
In 1965, the Browns added a logo (seriously) to their helmets, known as the infamous ‘CB’ logo. This helmet never appeared in any regular season games and is believed to have never appeared in any preseason games.
The actual story behind the logo is beyond the scope of this article, however I will go more in-depth in a future article regarding the ill-fated decal.
I can, however, give you an overview of the story.
The logo was designed by NFL Creative Properties in an attempt to provide an identity to the Browns when helmet logos became a thing starting in the late 1940s and by the 1960s, every NFL team but Cleveland possessed a helmet logo.
In fact, old pamphlets and NFL preview magazines from 1965 blatantly show that the Browns indeed had a logo adopted for them that season.
This helmet, however, did not sit well with the team and the players were said to have removed the logo before playing in their first preseason games, solidifying the logoless helmet seen today.
The 1970s to Present
The Browns helmet saw very little change since the team made the decision to remove the infamous ‘CB’ logo, with the only changes coming to the facemask.
From 1975 to 2005, the Browns wore a white facemask, which returned when the team returned to the league after a three-year hiatus in 1999.
From 2006 to 2014, they reverted back to the classic gray facemask worn from the 1950s until 1974. This look remained until the Browns radically redesigned their uniforms in 2015.
Come 2015, the Browns introduced a new shade of orange and brown, with the orange being more vibrant than the classic burnt orange that was part of the team’s color scheme throughout their history.
The current helmet features a matte finish in favor of the gloss, with detail in the brown portion of the helmet stripe. The team also switched to brown facemasks, which some believe to be for the first time in the team’s history, however photos have circulated throughout the years depicting brown facemasks in the early 1950s, but they have never been confirmed.
Browns owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam have confirmed a complete redesign is in the works for 2020. Early rumors stated the Browns will return to their classic uniforms with a modern twist, as many teams like the Buffalo Bills, Jacksonville Jaguars, Minnesota Vikings, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Rams, San Francisco 49ers, and Los Angeles Chargers have done.
However, with the team’s color rush uniforms being a major hit with the fan base, the team might opt to go in that direction, meaning the current helmet might remain the same.
As an open Browns fan, I’ve always been in love with the logoless helmet. Critics pan the look, but the loyal Cleveland fan base will always stand beside the helmet. It’s a Cleveland sports thing, ditto for the color scheme.
For me, as long as the helmet remains plain, and it will, I’ll be okay with any uniform change, as rumors state it will occur in 2020 and most likely return to the original look. I would prefer a reversion to burnt orange and gloss finish, with an orange, brown, or white facemask.
It will be exciting to see what the Browns unveil next season as they get rid of the infamous look that debuted in 2015.
The Browns are deeply rooted in tradition and the fans embrace such traditions, hence the logoless helmet. Those playing for the Browns understand such tradition and embrace the plain culture that has surrounded the team since the 1950s.
It’s one reason why the 2015 look boded well for neither critics, the media, nor much of the fan base. Five years later, owners Jimmy and Dee Haslam understand this concept and are now remedying the mistake from 2015. If there was one concept the Haslams did keep, it was keeping the helmet logoless, arguably the most important feature for Browns fans.