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In Cleveland, hope dies last

Are the Browns dropping hints on the new uniforms?

brown is beautiful

The Cleveland Browns will unveil their new uniforms on April 14 in what we can assume will be a spectacle worthy of the No. 1 team in town.

While the team has kept a tight lid on what they have planned for one of the most iconic uniform sets in the NFL, word has leaked out that with the new uniforms the club will have nine different sets at its disposal on any given Sunday.

Knowing that, it seems reasonable to deduce that there will be three jersey colors and three pant colors for the team to mix and match. Brown and white seem like a lock for two of the jersey colors, and white and orange would be nice looks for the pants. (Please, no more brown pants).

Which leaves everyone to ponder just what the team has in mind for the third color.

A couple of days ago, the Browns published a story on the team website headlined Putting to rest 5 historic myths about the Browns’ uniforms. It’s a fun read, but we can’t help but wonder if, buried within the stories, are some clues to the upcoming changes meant to help ease fans toward the new look.

Three of the myths in particular stand out:

Myth: The Browns have never tried to introduce any major changes to their uniforms

Why it’s false: A look through stacks and stacks of old photos reveal Browns players wearing uniforms that essentially look the same, save a few tweaks here and there to the striping on the sleeves or a different spin on the combination of orange, brown and white. But there have been a few steps off the beaten path along the way. In 1950 – and 1950 only – the Browns wore silver pants with their brown jerseys. In 1984, the Browns planned to roll out a brown jersey that had an orange number with a brown outline. Those jerseys never saw the field during the regular season, as they were viewed as problematic for spotters who couldn’t decipher the numbers as they whirred past them.

What that could meanThis one is obviously aimed at those of us who are happy with the current uniform set and see no reason for change. But the part about the silver pants worn in 1950 is also telling. There has been much talk that the Browns will introduce a shade of gray, commonly referred to as “smoke,” into the uniform set. While gray may not be silver, it’s a close cousin and the club can point to team history as justification for the change.

Myth: The Browns never wore orange jerseys until their occasional appearances in the 2000s.

Why it’s false: Cleveland first wore orange jerseys in 1953, donning them for a home-opening rout of the Philadelphia Eagles. (They were also worn in the preseason, then again for exhibition games in 1954 and 1955). For 49 years during the regular season, Cleveland kept it simple, rotating between variations of white and brown until the orange reappeared in 2002. The Browns beat the Texans, 34-17, that day and are 2-3 all-time in orange tops.

What that could mean: See, the Browns wore orange jerseys before, so when orange becomes the third jersey color the team can once again point to its history as the reason for why the color belongs in the rotation. And let’s make no mistake, until they start winning consistently, the Browns, more than most NFL teams, need to play off their history as much as possible.

Myth: The Browns once wore a “CB” logo on their helmets

Why it’s false: As documented in detail by the Cleveland Scene, there is no evidence of the Browns wearing this kind of logo on their helmets during the 1965 season. The confusion stems from advertisement drawings commissioned by the NFL that showed the Browns wearing this unexpected new logo on their helmets. Merchandisers picked up on it and used the logo on a number of Browns products. Alas, there are no photos that show this, or any other logo, on the Browns’ helmets since the team came into existence in 1946.

What that does mean: Thankfully, the club has already gone on record that the only change coming to the helmet is a switch to a brown facemask.

“We’re excited about (the new uniforms),” team president Alec Scheiner has said in published reports. “Once again, what’s important is we push ourselves forward, match the energy and forward-thinking of the city, but link to our tradition and respect our tradition which is an incredible tradition.”

As long as the Browns don’t come out with something like the clown suits that Tampa Bay wears, Browns fans will treat the uniforms the same way we treat every questionable draft pick or free agency signing: we’ll talk ourselves into them.

Because at the end of the day the universal truth will still hold true: it’s not the jerseys on the players but the players in the jerseys that matter the most.

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