The Cleveland Browns are the only team in the NFL named after a person, but there's some confusion as to who that person is.
Call the Cleveland Plain Dealer sports department and you'll be told Paul Brown. The Official NFL Encyclopedia of Pro Football also credits the legendary first coach and general manager of the team. But according to the media relations office of the Browns, the team is named after the "Brown Bomber," boxer Joe Louis.
About the only thing that seems certain is that there was a contest to name Arthur McBride's professional football team in 1946. Fans were asked to submit their suggestions along with an essay, with a $1,000 war bond going to the winner. Navy Sailor John J. Hartnett won the contest with the name Panthers, but it was never used.
Some versions say a man who owned the rights to the name Cleveland Panthers demanded money from McBride. Others say Brown did not want his team associated with the losing #i Cleveland Panthers of the American Football League of the 1920s. McBride held another contest and gave out a second $1,000 war bond to William Thompson, who suggested Browns, but the reason is unclear.
Jack Clary writes in his book, "Cleveland Browns," that an effort was made to associate the team with a winner, and Joe Louis was in his prime. The NFL Encyclopedia says Brown rejected the name at first but later agreed to have the team named after him. In later years he said that the naming of the team had nothing to
do with Joe Louis. But no one told the Browns.