As part of their season-long 75th anniversary celebration, the Cleveland Browns officially unveiled their 1946 throwback uniforms early Saturday morning.
“The Browns are one of those iconic franchises in all of sports, not just the NFL,” Browns executive vice president and co-owner J.W. Johnson said in a statement. “We wanted to give a nod to the past and the players that have paved the way for the team we have here today. It’s a way to thank them for everything they’ve done for this league, for this team, and for this city.
“We wouldn’t be here without the likes of Jim Brown, Otto Graham, Lou Groza and Joe Thomas. We want to honor them. We want to respect them.”
The uniforms were perhaps the worst-kept secret in the NFL, as retail versions of the jersey leaked on eBay in March alongside the Cincinnati Bengals’ new uniforms and the San Francisco 49ers’ throwback set.
As we learned at that time, the white jerseys feature Cleveland’s traditional striping pattern on the sleeves and brown numbers with an orange drop shadow, replicating what the Browns wore during the first season of existence. It also includes a special football-shaped patch with the year on the left shoulder.
The one thing that was unclear, though, was what the rest of the uniform would look like.
There was a thought that the jersey would be paired with a white helmet, just like Cleveland wore in 1946. But with the NFL’s one-helmet rule remaining intact for the 2021 season, the Browns will instead don their standard orange helmets with a white stripe down the middle, numbers on both sides and a gray facemask rather than the usual brown.
While this part of the uniform isn’t true to 1946, Cleveland did wear a single white stripe on its helmets from 1952-59 and numbers on the sides from 1957-60, as well as on a throwback uniform from 2006-08. The Browns also wore a gray facemask from 1961-74 and 2006-14.
The pants, meanwhile, are white and feature a solid brown stripe sandwiched between two orange stripes, just like the design of the team’s current white pants.
“We spent a lot of time going back and looking at old photos and the history of the team and working with our friends at Nike and the NFL to put this all together,” Johnson said. “At the end of the day, like we said when we went back to the uniforms we’re currently wearing, we wanted something clean, iconic, traditional, and something that would honor the team and represent it appropriately.”
Cleveland went 12-2 in 1946, winning the first of four straight All-America Football Conference championships that season. Now coming off their first playoff appearance in 18 years, the Browns hope to recapture some of that magic in the throwback uniforms, which will be worn three times this season.
The franchise plans to announce the exact dates in the week leading up to the respective games.
Photos courtesy of the Cleveland Browns.