How the Browns Were Named
Just how did the Cleveland Browns get their name?
One popular myth is that the team was named after the popular boxing champion, Joe Louis, "The Brown Bomber." The truth, according to several published reports, is this:
When owner Arthur McBride brought an AAFC team to Cleveland in 1945, he held a newspaper contest to name the team and offered a $1,000 war bond to the winner. Most of the entries submitted wanted the name Browns, because the extremely popular Paul Brown was the team's head coach.
Coach Brown thought it wouldn't be proper to name the team after him, and the entry "Panthers" was selected. A few weeks later, a man approached McBride and said he owned a semi-pro team in the 20's called the Cleveland Panthers and he still owned the rights to the name.
McBride could have bought the man off but Brown vetoed the idea. The coach didn't want the new team to be associated with a losing franchise. Instead of holding a new contest, Brown reluctantly agreed to name the team Browns. But, in sticking with his original ideals, Brown suggested publicly that since Louis was "The Brown Bomber", that was how the team got its name. Not a single entry in the contest listed Louis or his nickname as a reason for choosing "Browns."