Brownie the Elf has been the official mascot of the Cleveland Browns since the franchise was created. Prior to the Browns' existence in Cleveland, the Rams were the NFL team occupying the city. They decided to move to California following the 1945 NFL season. This opened the door for the Browns to start a brand new franchise in the vacant city.
The Cleveland Browns were officially formed in 1946. Original owner Mickey McBride decided to join the All-America Football Conference (AAFC) rather than the NFL for their inaugural season. One of the first major moves made by McBride was hiring Paul Brown to be their head coach. He was an established football legend in the state of Ohio, so it was a popular move among Cleveland fans.
Fans often referred to the new Cleveland football franchise as "Paul Brown's Team" prior to them selecting an official team name. This led McBride to brand the Browns after the already popular adopted name, while also honoring the legendary face of their franchise, Paul Brown. The only thing missing now was the mascot.
McBride decided on Brownie the Elf to represent the Cleveland Browns as the team's official mascot. He admitted that having a mascot was a wise business decision, allowing many branding opportunities, including selling merchandise. He reportedly sorted through many potential options, but landed on Brownie the Elf, a character from English folklore.
What's the story behind Brownie the Elf?
According to old English folklore, apparently originating in Northern England, the Brownies were elves that lived inside people's homes. They only came out at night while everyone else was sleeping to do household chores and assist with farm work. As legend goes, the family would leave out a bowl of fresh cream as a payment to the Brownies for their services.
Those who believed in the existence of the Brownies in their homes also believed it was wise to continue to keep them happy. As long as they received their cream, they would continue assisting with the work around the house and on the farm. This was beneficial for the family they lived with. The Brownies were also rumored to leave the household if they were ever shown disrespect as they also had the ability to disappear.
This unique legend from English folklore is where McBride landed the mascot for the Cleveland Browns. He allegedly feels the name Brownies fit well with the Browns team name he selected. The elves were also popular and loved figures, which he was hoping his team would also be. "Brownie" was slightly tweaked to "Brownie the Elf" and the franchise's mascot was born.