Five years was enough time for the Cleveland Browns to realize tradition matters more than trends.
Wednesday marked the change the franchise needed as the Browns introduced new uniforms that look more like what they have worn for much of their history, and not like the radical design in which they finished the 2010s.
Consider it a happy marriage of what worked in the past (most everything) and present.
The 2015 redesign did produce at least two positive changes: The team is carrying over its updated and more vibrant shade of orange, and it’s retaining the matte finish on the helmets and the brown facemasks, both significant upgrades from what the Browns wore from 2006-2014, while removing the carbon fiber texture print within its brown helmet stripes.
Cleveland is pairing that improved helmet with two jerseys that will look intentionally familiar, restoring the team’s traditional brown tops with white numbers and a five-stripe sleeve pattern worn by the team in every season but 1984 and 2015-2019. On the home tops, they follow a white-orange-white-orange-white sequence, while on the white road top — which will return the team to brown numbers, thankfully eschewing orange numbers altogether — it is brown-orange-brown-orange-brown.
The Browns‘ new look isn’t simply shifting to traditional block numbers. Similar to how the Colts changed their numbers in an announcement earlier this week, the Browns are using a modernized version of block numbers, with some parts of the numbers looking like traditional blocks, while curved edges replace parts of the number elsewhere. It’s a refreshing take on a traditional uniform element used across all levels of football.
The Browns‘ white pants return to their pre-2015 appearance, moving back to the team’s traditional three stripes down each side of the pants with a pattern of orange-brown-orange. Cleveland is also carrying over the team’s brown pants from its color rush uniform, which became its primary home set in 2019.
The socks might be the most exciting element of the uniform. The team’s beautiful white socks, traditionally worn with the matching white jersey, will return with the brown-orange-brown-orange-brown striping pattern that mirrors the pattern on the white jersey sleeves. Fans might recall these socks from the team’s rebirth in 1999, which lasted through the club’s 2006 changes, when return ace Josh Cribbs occasionally wore the socks on his forearms as half-sleeves as a very underrated accessory. The Browns are also returning to a brown pair of socks with a white-orange-white-orange-white pattern that matches the sleeves of the home jersey.
The orange jersey is no more, likely to the dismay of some fans who were proponents of the team’s alternate top that was occasionally worn in the early 2000s and was also included as a third option in the club’s 2015 rebrand, but orange is best used as an accent, not a primary color. There will be an alternate, though, as the Browns introduced a color rush-like third uniform that is monochromatic brown and is a simplified version of the team’s former color rush option first worn in 2018.
The city’s name across the chest is also gone, removing an element some considered to be collegiate, but we cannot overlook its trend-setting impact on the league. Since the Browns became the first team to wear their city’s name on their chest in 2015, two teams have adopted the approach. The New York Jets introduced uniforms last year that include “New York” across the chest, while the Falcons recently revealed new uniforms with an ATL acronym for the city of Atlanta.
Cleveland’s reveal might be seen as underwhelming by those who prefer more radical clothing, but make no mistake: The Browns and the fanbase that supports them are a blue-collar, no-frills group.
The Haslams admitted a year ago that the club hadn’t gotten it right with its 2015 rebrand, but this time around, those mistakes were corrected. This ensemble reflects that, and rightfully returns the Browns to their traditional appearance as one of the NFL’s longstanding franchises that calls one of the most passionate enclaves of America home.
All proceeds from jersey sales go to benefit the Browns “Hats off to our Heroes” fund, which will aid health care professionals, first responders, educational professionals and other groups who are pivotal in the community year round are serving as role models in the face of significant adversity due to COVID-19.