The bleacher sections behind the east end zone of the Cleveland Browns’ FirstEnergy stadium are affectionately referred to as the Dawg Pound. Fans wear dog masks and wave dog bones and sometimes make chants out of barking dog sounds. It’s one of the iconic and most recognizable fan bases in all of sports.
The term Dawg Pound was coined in 1985 by Browns cornerback Hanford Dixon, who applied the name to the Cleveland defense before it became associated with the team’s fans, then at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. Members of the Dawg Pound, notorious for sometimes rowdy behavior, might be surprised to learn that the official logo for their pack is based on a silly, friendly bulldog named Casey.
The mark, which was intended from the get-go to be a secondary logo not intended for use on the field, was designed by Todd Radom of Todd Radom Design. He was asked to create a logo that was “stoic, with no snarls or caricatures.”
“The Browns had been using a ‘Dawg Pound’ logo that was cartoonish and kind of unsophisticated,” Radom said, referring to the logo pictured at right, which was unveiled in 1999 when Cleveland was awarded an expansion franchise to replace the previous Browns, who had left for Baltimore several years earlier.
“The directive was that the new art should immediately feel classic and timeless,” Radom said. “This was 2002, the revived Cleveland franchise was still finding its footing in many ways. A classic look for a classic-looking franchise.”
Radom was asked to feature a mastiff/bulldog hybrid, and realized that all the inspiration he needed was his constant companion. “As the project progressed we went through lots of subtle changes on the dog’s snout, jowls, and eyes,” he said. “I had the best model available right at my feet, which is where she spent most of her day, happily snoring away.”
Radom based most of the new Dawg Pound logo on Casey (a fact that the Browns did not know), but not all of it. “Most of the dog is based on my pooch,” he said, “but I also took inspiration from dogs that were a bit less silly looking and more fierce.”
Casey passed away in 2008, after “a bulldog life well lived.”
The Browns are set to unveil a new logo tomorrow, which is a big deal considering that the team’s current logo is simply an orange football helmet without a logo on it. It’s hard to picture anything else at all, but whatever the team’s new identity, we hope the Dawg Pound will continue to pay homage to Casey, whose spirit lives on in their logo.