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Browns Exec Suggests White Facemask Could Become Permanent

As most Uni Watch readers are probably aware, on Saturday the Browns wore white facemasks for the first time since 2005. Once the move was announced, there was a lot of social media chatter about how the team should make this change permanent. That’s pretty common when a team announces a throwback move, but the difference this time around is that some of the chatter came from Browns executive vice president JW Johnson, who suggested that such a change is already in the works:

The league considers changing a team’s mask color to be such a minor thing that it doesn’t fall within the usual five-year stricture on uniform changes. So if this was just a matter of the mask color itself, the Browns could probably make the change permanent simply by saying, “Okay, let’s do that.”

But the Browns are a unique case, because the team’s official primary logo is just their helmet, which currently includes a brown facemask. So as that embedded Twitter poll indicates, changing the mask would also necessitate changing the logo. And changing the logo means going through proper channels, which take time. (One obvious concern is that the logo — like any team’s primary logo — appears on a lot of merch, so they’d want to clear that product out of the pipeline before making the switcheroo.)

So what would the timetable be for something like this? I’ve posed that question (among others) to both the league and the team, so I hope to have more info for you soon. Stand by.

(My thanks to Twitter-er @hatmantc for bringing JW Johnson’s tweet to my attention.)

Comments (31)

    Why make the white facemask “permanent”? Why try to force rules about your facemask at all?

    Why not just keep the logo as is, but simply acknowledge that you have three sets of facemasks – gray, white & brown – and will be changing them on a week by week basis based on whatever self-imposed whims you (the Browns) happen to be feeling at the moment?

    I don’t get the desire to create fake rules, when no rules are actually needed, and will probably be broken anyways?


    Why not just keep the logo as is, but simply acknowledge that you have three sets of facemasks – gray, white & brown – and will be changing them on a week by week basis based on whatever self-imposed whims you (the Browns) happen to be feeling at the moment?

    Because the primary logo appears on a bunch of merch, and there are fans who will be upset if their T-shirt (or whatever) doesn’t match what the team usually wears.

    That’s what I am saying, why commit to one on the field when you literally don’t have to?

    Do you really think Browns fans would be “upset” that their t-shirt shows a brown (or whatever color they choose) facemask and the team trots out a white (or whatever color they choose) one?

    How “upset” were they yesterday?


    Do you really think Browns fans would be “upset” that their t-shirt shows a brown (or whatever color they choose) facemask and the team trots out a white (or whatever color they choose) one?

    If it happened on a regular basis, yes (as opposed to a one-off like yesterday).

    I don’t think that’s a particularly rational reaction, but I do think it’s the reaction that would occur.

    I don’t think they’d be upset, at all (if its just different facemasks).

    Agree to disagree, lets move on.


    That’s a valid argument for other teams, but this is the Browns. Their fans have much more to be upset about. Having merch that doesn’t match the on-field product would actually be pretty on-brand for the Factory of Sadness.

    Agreed. Contra Paul, I just don’t see fans noticing, much less objecting. I mean, sure, we here would notice, and I would personally delight in ridiculing an Ohio team that can’t even match its on-field helmet to its logo of a helmet, but general Browns or NFL fandom? Who don’t seem to notice or care that the Browns logo already doesn’t match actual on-field helmets? Nah. I mean, the Washington Nationals noticeably changed the curly W in the team logo in 2011 – 11 years ago, or more than half the team’s lifetime ago! – but they’ve never updated the curly W used on on-field caps or jerseys since then. Despite the team winning a World Series and gaining a bit of a national fanbase since then, I think I might be literally the only Nats or MLB fan who either has noticed or cares. Do the Browns have a larger fanbase that’s more attuned to minor logo/equipment discrepancies than the Washington Nationals? I’d need to see strong empirical evidence for that claim before I assumed it to be true.

    Came here to say similar, you two have already said it very well! We’re a vocal minority! The average fan isn’t going to know or care about the color of the facemask on their gear not matching what’s on the field.

    I love not having a helmet logo, but since the 2015 re-design, I thought they should have a primary logo other than the helmet. Perhaps use the Brownie elf mid-field logo as your primary, and then go white masked on the field.

    Agree. Either version of Brownie (standing or stiff arm) would be a good logo.
    Can keep the helmet blank or put numbers on it. But seems time to move on from helmet as logo. I generally see a positive reaction to Brownie, and perhaps unlike 15-25 years ago, the trend to a retro, fun logo like an elf on gear would be embraced. Tulane’s green wave mascot making a comeback is a good example. Pendulum is swinging from sleek and aggressive towards fun and traditional.

    Agree. As a lifetime Browns fan – that “helmet is our logo” stuff has never cut it with me. It’s like they aren’t even trying.

    I’m fine with a decal-free helmet, but I’d like to see them put some effort into a proper primary image.

    The helmet as the logo will always be a quandary. Obviously, the current “logo” does not reflect the type of helmets players are wearing these days. At what point do they make the switch (like they had to in the past), and what model do they replicate?

    I think the solution, if they want to keep the helmet as a trademark, is to use an obviously outdated version like a 2-bar face mask. Then they can just be intentionally retro instead of becoming outdated every few years.

    I like white best for the Browns and would recommend finding which is favored by the fans and stick with that one. Perhaps even ask the players…perhaps white is distracting? I agree with the NFL for once…the color of the facemask is minor. For my Steelers, gray harkens to my childhood and actually looks pretty good…like the color of steel and the circle on the logo. I am much more concerned that they get the font correct on their 70s throwbacks.

    what about updating the actual helmet in the logo? That helmet is no longer allowed to be used, as Tom Brady famously had to change out of it to a newer model. Not sure chasing the helmet changes with their logo is smart. But, it may be time.

    If the Browns do go back to white facemasks full time…a move I applaud…, they really ought to go all-in and bring back the 2D-2 bar logo as well.

    By using the obsolete helmet in their logo, they save themselves some money as it falls under public domain. If Cleveland used a modern helmet, they’d have to pay for its usage.

    And btw, if the Brownie the Elf mid-field logo isn’t sporting a Santa hat for their game on Saturday, that would be a HUGE fail!


    I vote keep both white and orange pants as options. Both are great with either brown or white jerseys. We can have both.

    Brownie as a very good secondary logo but keep the helmet clean. As for the face mask: switching back to white is OK with me, better than grey anyway.

    I tend to disagree with the sentiment that the fans won’t notice or care about the merchandise with a brown face mask; especially with the attention the face masks are getting the past five days. I have largely held out in purchasing Browns merch purely out of dislike for the brown face mask. I buy either Brownie the Elf or “Cleveland Browns” gear. Now that I know the white face masks may return permanently I will certainly not buy anything with the brown face masked helmet.

    Last year I ordered a Riddell Revo mini replica but purchased an after market white face mask to accommodate what I felt was proper.

    I have to say, the new Brownie at midfield and a potential return to white face masks makes me rather hopeful.

    Brown facemask > white facemask

    White (and gray) facemasks, for some reason, look thicker than the other colored counterparts. And also, its brown! You know, the color and name of the team.

    As long as they don’t use grey face masks. That is not a Browns team color. Using grey because that is the only color available in the sixties is so lame. Grey only makes sense if that is your team color, which means the Giants are the only team that should have grey masks. Silver is not grey so Cowboys and Falcons shouldn’t have grey either.

    why did they go brown facemask to begin with? did they do a fan survey or something? just go by fan demand and leave it at that. definitely prefer the white. it pops more and is a cleaner look. it matches the numbers on the brown jersey and white on the away jersey. really happy they went back to the original unis too. if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

    They should just make the brownie elf the primary logo. It’s already on a bunch of merch, so transitioning shouldn’t be a problem.

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