Cleveland Browns

Paul Warfield
(game worn)

It happens every year. Moments after sundown in late summer stunning soft pastels brilliantly streak through an electric charged magenta sky (check out the Eagles “Hotel California” album cover or any old “Miami Vice” episode). The neon charged colors of summer reluctantly surrender to autumn’s golden harvest, rich red leaves and burnt orange pumpkins. With an unpleasant nip the late fall winds suddenly advertise the coming of dark and gray stubborn winter days that never seem to end but surprisingly do.

Another spectacular late summer / autumn football season has long since passed. We have sadly returned to our winter bear caves to hibernate until the first sign of a new season, the NFL draft, when we are magically awoken by those special words “and with the first pick of the ………”  Until that special day arrives what could be a better antidote for the “Wintertime Blues” than to dream about autumn’s burnt orange and what could be a better representation of that color than the discovery of the actual 1960s era helmet worn by Cleveland Brown’s legendary Hall of Fame receiver Paul Warfield?

The burnt orange hue was adopted for the Browns in the early 1950’s by their famous coach Paul Brown. During World War II he served as coach of the Great Lakes Naval Station military service football team. While there he learned from the Navy staff that orange was the most visible color for ships to detect while at sea. When the war ended Brown became the Cleveland Brown’s very first head coach. While thinking of a way for his quarterback to more quickly locate the downfield receivers he remembered what he had learned about the orange hue while in the service and in the early 1950’s he outfitted the entire Brown’s team in orange helmets. The plain but unusually colored helmet design has since become a beloved helmet icon for all levels of football. The innovative Coach Brown felt so strongly about the orange color that he also adopted it for the Cincinnati Bengal’s helmets when, under his ownership (and head coaching), they were admitted to the AFL as an expansion team in 1967.

Paul Warfield’s spectacular Browns helmet is a Riddell model “TK-2” with a 1967 warranty “born on” date. It is highly likely that he wore this helmet until 1970 when he joined the Dolphins after a blockbuster trade (note the slightly crooked nose snubber which is a perfect match with the accompanying game photo). Additional features include factory installed striping and the period correct black dymo rear nameplate. The helmet includes the famous Riddell model “BD-9” plastic facemask that Paul wore until late in his career, back with the Browns, when he switched to a Dungard aluminum model (see photo).

After wearing the team mandated heavily padded Macgregor helmet (see photo) in college at Ohio State it is not surprising to find that Paul upgraded his Browns suspension helmet with the optional Riddell “Aero-Cell“ padding accessory kit. Considering that head to head collisions were not only allowed but encouraged during this era it makes perfect sense that the highly intelligent Warfield would opt for this additional protection.

The forever stylish Paul Warfield and his burnt orange Browns gamer are pro football icons. They provided many wonderful memories that helped us endure the cold dull winters each year waiting for both their return and the warmth of the sun.