Seeing brownQuestion: Who are the Cleveland Browns named...

Off the beat

August 18, 1991

Seeing brown

Question: Who are the Cleveland Browns named after?

Would you believe Joe Louis?

That is what sportscaster Len Berman believes. According to Berman, the name came out of a newspaper contest. The winning entry was Brown Bombers, honoring then-heavyweight champion Joe Louis. The name was shortened to Browns. Berman said that story had come from the team itself.

In the wake of the death of Paul Brown earlier this month, Newsday's Stan Isaacs went to Chuck Heaton, dean of Cleveland sports writers, for the definitive word.

"The Browns and Paul Brown had a falling out . . . so the Browns have been giving out that story about Joe Louis," Heaton said. "It's not so. What happened is that there was a newspaper contest, and the name Panthers won. But then some guy came along who said he had owned a semi-pro team named the Cleveland Panthers. He wanted to be paid for the use of the name.

"The Browns wouldn't go for that, so they scrapped Panthers. Then another newspaper contest came along, and the winning name was Brown Bombers. But not after Joe Louis, because he was from Detroit. He had no particular association with Cleveland."

Brown, according to Heaton, then simply named the team after himself.

"The Brown Bomber story crops up from time to time, though," Heaton said. "It was in our own paper [the Cleveland Plain Dealer] recently. The editor got so mad about it, he ordered a special retraction."

Rolling out the red carpet

Berlin, bidding to be host to the Summer Olympics in 2000, will put on a glittering cultural show to impress the executive committee of the Olympic movement, sports officials said.

The 12-member committee, which meets Sept. 16-19 in Berlin, will be entertained by a 12-member cello ensemble and have dinner in a museum holding one of the supposed seven wonders of the ancient world, the immense Pergamon Altar.

Delegates also will be shown a special exhibition of Rembrandt paintings and German President Richard von Weizsaecker will host a reception in Bellevue Palace, his official Berlin mansion.

Trips through the city by motorcade and canal boat aim to impress the Olympic organizers with Berlin's ability to host the Games in 2000, German Olympic officials said at a news conference.

The quote

Punter Bryan Wagner, who spent last season with the Cleveland Browns, on his undergraduate days at Cal State Northridge: "Our defense was like our nickname, the Matadors."

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