After over 40 minutes of what many fans considered nothing more than cheap ways to stall in order to fill out time, nine current Browns players walked out on stage. Each was draped in an all-orange warm up jacket that covered them top to bottom, only adding to the heavy layer of suspense that had been developing throughout the event and the weeks leading up to it.
“The Dawg Pound” provided a strong showing, with roughly 3,000 eager and excited Clevelanders packing the location at the Cleveland Convention Center. Local media outlets were also heavily represented, with names such as ESPN Cleveland and 92.3 The Fan radio having booths set up just outside the main stage area.
The hype was tremendous, and it was being called “an Orange Carpet Event” based strictly on how important the moment truly was for Cleveland sports.
For what it’s worth, Nike and the Browns had been collaborating on concepts for the new uniforms for just about two years, and all of that time had been building up until this moment. The Browns uniforms are known for their loyalty to tradition, so fans were fervent to see whether or not the Browns organization would—once again—screw up and do something that would only further disappoint the fanbase. There had been a lot of speculation, with tons of pictures circulating on the internet of reportedly leaked images of the new jerseys. The reaction to the leaked images was a steady mix of love and hate, but no one knew for sure if they were the real deal or not.
But once the orange warmups fell off the players on stage, fans finally got to see for themselves.
The players stood on stage, modeling nine different jersey combinations. Fans yelled and screamed, but the overall sense in the building was something along the lines of, “Okay, the Browns didn’t mess this up. But they also didn’t really blow us away.”
While some fans (as expected) absolutely loved what they saw, others (also as expected) turned their heads in disgust. Not only at the jerseys, but at the fact they paid money for tickets to what was basically 45 minutes of fireworks, dumb interviews with “super fans” and videos about how brilliant Nike is; after all that, the mediocre jerseys that were no better than the ones before them.
Nonetheless, it seemed like most people were content with what they saw. The Browns and Nike really didn’t take any chances with the new designs, and they essentially played it fairly safe. They emboldened the orange coloring, removed some lines on the shoulder pads, darkened the brown and added the word “Cleveland” across the chest of the jerseys. They also added the word “Browns” to the pants, making the Browns the first team to have their name on their pants in the entire NFL.
While team president Alec Scheiner has stated he believes the Browns could be like “the Oregon Ducks” of the NFL, their actually jerseys more closely resemble Oregon State University (or Bowling Green State University, for that matter).
When the event was all said and done, Cleveland wasn’t blown away. But they weren’t insulted or outraged, either.
With that being said, all most fans care about is whether or not the Browns win, not what they look like if they’re losing game after game after game. If the Browns start winning, the jerseys will sell regardless of whether they’re hated or loved.