Name Game Was Merely Part of the Cleveland Brownout

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 sportswriters, 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 semipro 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."

Add Brown: Paul Brown and his star running back, Jim Brown, feuded during the fullback's playing days in Cleveland. But they patched up their differences 20 years later when they met at the 1982 Super Bowl.

"Both of us realized we would be married forever," Jim Brown told the Plain Dealer. "It became a matter of remembering the good or the bad. I wanted to remember the good."

Last add Brown: Jim Brown said he had some trouble as a player understanding his former coach.

"I finally realized how different it was for him, as a coach, to have to stand up in front of his team and have a vision for everybody, not just himself," Brown said. "I respect him for that. I respect him for being the first coach to integrate a football team. He wanted the best players."

Trivia time: Ten former Cleveland Browns have become NFL head coaches. How many can you name?

Newest Brown coach: Bill Belichick comes over from the New York Giants, where he ran the defense that was a key factor in last season's Super Bowl victory.

Belichick began his career as an assistant with the Baltimore Colts in 1975.

In his first meeting with the Browns, Belichick told them: "I've waited all my life for this opportunity, and I'm not going to screw it up."

Trivia answer: The 10: Paul Wiggin, Otto Graham, Walt Michaels, Dick Modzelewski, Don Shula, Chuck Noll, Monte Clark, Abe Gibron, Lou Saban and Lou Rymkus.

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

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