Jun
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Team Logo History – NFL

Team Logo History – NFL

After a few posts about team colors, I wanted to look at the evolution of team logos, much like I did with team colors. First up is the NFL.

Using the great sportslogos.net, I compiled the chart below. Stick around below the chart and read my team-by-team logo evolution, including my favorite logo for each team. I’m finding that the NFL has better design than the other sports, as most of my favorite logos are the most recent. I don’t think that will be the case as much when I look at the other leagues.

Some notes about the whole league chart below:

  • The 60s were a big time for redesign in the NFL and when most teams really established a true logo
  • The Washington Redskins have had the most logos (9) in their history (that counts bring an old one back)
  • The Pittsburgh Steelers have gone the longest without a logo redesign (1963), followed by the Dallas Cowboys (1964), Oakland Raiders (1964), and Minnesota Vikings (1966)

As always, click to see full size:

 

Now here’s a look at team-by-team logo history:

Arizona Cardinals

The Arizona Cardinals started out as the Chicago Cardinals, one of the original members of the NFL. The Chicago Bears brought back the “C” used by the old Chicago Cardinals. I think the 2005 update of the logo they had used since 1960 was a very good update. It kept its identity, but was a good refresh. It has more of an attitude and it’s more streamlined.

 

Atlanta Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons have had essentially the same logo as long as they’ve existed. In 1999, they ditched the red stroke for a black one, and in 2003 it got what I think was a much-needed update. A lot like the Cardinals’ update, the logo was given more attitude and the modern look it lacked without going overboard. Both the Cardinals and Falcons logos were actually designed by Mark Verlander, who has designed some of my favorite NFL logos.

 

Baltimore Ravens

Even though the Baltimore Ravens have only existed since 1996, they’ve gone through a redesign. That’s a good thing, because their original logo wasn’t very good. It was a flying B-shield. I don’t know if the Raven’s head needs a “B” on it, but the current logo is much better.

 

Buffalo Bills

Until 1970, the Buffalo Bills didn’t really have a simple logo; more of an illustration. I’m tempted to say I prefer the 1970 logo, but I think that’s more the throwback element I like. The 1974 version is angrier and introduces the team’s other color. The old one is hanging its head or grazing or something… The Bills just announced they’re unveiling new uniforms this season, so hopefully they’ll bring back the white helmets. No one needed a uniform update more.

 

Carolina Panthers

The Carolina Panthers have only existed since 1995, so they’ve only had one logo. It’s a pretty strong logo, though. It follows the 90s trend of mascot’s head cropped by a triangle shape at the bottom left (see Broncos, Patriots, Rams).

 

Chicago Bears

In 1962, the Chicago Bears adopted the “C” the Chicago Cardinals used when they were around. It’s pretty iconic, and was definitely improved in 1974 with the addition of the team colors.

 

Cincinnati Bengals

I hate it when a team’s “logo” is a two-dimensional illustration of their helmet. Teams like the Bengals and the Rams make clever use of their helmets rather than sticking a logo on the sides, but they should still have a logo. I really like the tiger mark, and they still use it as a secondary logo, but I gave a slight edge to the “B” logo because the tiger could be any team named the Tigers, Bengals, etc. The “B” is a clever use of their stripe pattern, like the helmets (and another Mark Verlander design).

 

Cleveland Browns

Speaking of teams using their helmet as a “logo”… You’ll notice I didn’t highlight any of the Cleveland Browns’ logos as my favorite. That’s because none of them are. I don’t necessarily like a logo from every NFL team, but for the Browns there’s really nothing to even call the “best” one. I like the 1950 elf from a vintage logo standpoint, but there’s nothing here worthy of an NFL team logo. They have secondary marks, but it’s time to come up with something clever, even though it won’t be on the helmets (like the Bengals and Rams).

 

Dallas Cowboys

The Dallas Cowboys haven’t seen much identity change in their history. The star works, and the only reason I chose the version with a stroke is because without it, it looks even more so like a clip-art star.

 

Denver Broncos

The Denver Broncos made a huge improvement in 1997 by introducing their current logo. The darker orange and navy blue instead of royal didn’t hurt, either. Is it just me, or does the old “D” logo horse have the beginnings of a unicorn horn on its head?

 

Detroit Lions

The Detroit Lions gave their logo an update a couple of years ago, but it wasn’t as well-done as some others. I was tempted to call it my “favorite” because I like the definition of each of the lion’s legs and its face, but all the extra stripes inside were unnecessary and clutter it up, especially at small sizes. I’ve always been told to take away everything that isn’t necessary in a design, so I prefer the 1970 version here. I really like the stripes behind the 1961 logo. They’re very “car logo,” which is fitting for Detroit, but the Egyptian-looking lion is ugly. It would be nice to see a combination of those stripes with a better update of the 1970 logo. When I get some time, I’ll include it in a concepts post.

 

Green Bay Packers

GO PACK GO! I’m a Packers fan and a Georgia Tech fan, so seeing this logo in green and yellow brings joy to my heart, and seeing it in red and black makes me want to vomit. I have a post planned for a later date on Grambling State and Georgia borrowing the Packers’ logo.

 

Houston Texans

The Houston Texans’ logo is another one by Mark Verlander and the only one that wasn’t an update of a previous design. I think it’s a great logo. It’s strong visually, and it alludes to their Texas name via the flag elements and gives them an unofficial mascot, like I’m suggesting the Browns do despite their also mascotless name.

 

Indianapolis Colts

The Indianapolis Colts have had the same logo for quite some time, and it’s a pretty strong mark. I wonder why they don’t turn it on its side to make a “C,” though. It would be great as is if they were the Union City Colts or the Indianapolis Unicorns.

 

Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jacksonville Jaguars have stuck with their original logo since their inaugural season. I don’t have many complaints about it. It’s certainly better than the team’s original logo concept and all their alternate logos.

 

Kansas City Chiefs

The Kansas City Chiefs could use an update. I like the arrowhead idea, but the wavy lines and the thick drop shadows on the letters have got to go. And it would be nice to see some yellow in the logo. It’s really the only post-detailed-illustration-days logo they’ve had, though. I applaud the effort to replicate the franchise’s original Houston Texans logo when they moved to Kansas City. It just didn’t work as well with 6 states in the background…

 

Miami Dolphins

The Miami Dolphins just can’t make up their mind. They’ve had the same basic logo as long as they’ve been around, but they can’t decide which colors to use and if the dolphin should jump out of the top of the circle or not. They finally simplified the ring and the dolphin in 1997, making it better. A dolphin wearing a helmet is a little corny and old-fashioned, but it’s a tradition the Dolphins will probably keep, no matter how many times they tweak their colors.

 

Minnesota Vikings

As I mentioned at the top, the Minnesota Vikings have one of the oldest logos still in use. Despite that, it actually fits in with the modern logos. It’s got a similar shape as the 90s triangle cuts I mentioned (Panthers, Broncos, Patriots, Rams), and for its time it’s a very simplified illustration. I wouldn’t mind seeing just the horn that they use on their helmets as the primary logo, but it being just on the helmets rather than their logo makes that a more creative use of the horns I guess.

 

New England Patriots

The New England Patriots have a very strong logo. The Charlotte Bobcats would agree. I actually like their original logo as well, which only lasted a year. I know the patriot center snapping the ball is vintage and cool, but it’s a dumb logo. The update in 1993 was very good, and the switch from royal blue to navy in 2000 was nice, too.

 

New Orleans Saints

The new Orleans Saints have always had the fleur-de-lis logo, which is a great representation of the city of New Orleans, even though it doesn’t really represent saints. The gold update in 2000 is better, giving it some color, but the logo is basically unchanged.

 

New York Giants

Finally, another team whose current logo isn’t my favorite. Well, that’s not entirely true… The 1961 New York Giants logo was their first after the detailed illustration days, and it’s much better than the 1975 or 1976 marks. I’m glad they brought it back in 2000, and even though they added in the team’s other color, I just think the logo looks better without the red stroke. Red doesn’t tend to be the best stroke color.

 

New York Jets

The New York Jets have a better logo history than most. Even though it really isn’t anything, I like their current logo. It’s a good update to the old versions. My favorite, though, is the short-lived jet from 1963. It’s kind of plane (a pun!), but I think an update of that could make for a pretty cool logo.

 

Oakland Raiders

What?! A third team in a row that I didn’t like their current logo the most? I would put the Oakland Raiders’ last two logos about equal, but I like the swords breaking their container, and I like the two-tone container. Adding “The Oakland” is old school, and I kind of like it. If you’re going to have more of an “emblem” like this, why not include the whole team name?

 

Philadelphia Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles were easy, I thought. The only logo other than the current one I like much about is the 1969 mark. The other two are just drawings of eagles. I think the current one is very good, especially with the hidden “E” in the feathers on the right. The switch to teal was good, too, but I’m partial to teal when used well.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers

The Pittsburgh Steelers didn’t look like a football team based on logo alone until 1962, and they haven’t really changed since. A year later, they changed “Steel” to “Steelers” on the mark and haven’t thought about it since. It’s the oldest logo still being used, and it still fits in just fine. From a design standpoint, the word “Steelers” is tiny, but I don’t think it will be changing any time soon.

 

St. Louis Rams

The St. Louis Rams didn’t have much going for them in terms of logos until 2000. They stuck with their original drawing in various colors until 1981, and then they fell victim to the helmet-as-logo curse. Like the Bengals, it was a case of a team having a clever helmet design and calling that their logo. When they moved to St. Louis, they dropped the ram from their logo and added in the St. Louis Arch. Then in 2000, they finally put their helmet horn to good use and got a solid logo out of it, despite the typical “cut the head of the animal off in the shape of a triangle” solution. The change to navy and gold was a good idea, too.

 

San Diego Chargers

The San Diego Chargers used their helmet as a logo for a while (which by now you know how much I love), but eventually decided to make the mark on their helmets their logo. As a standalone logo, I like 2002′s a little better than 2007′s, but I think it makes sense for it to be yellow, and I probably let my love for their whole identity system since 2007 influence my decision.

 

San Francisco 49ers

The San Francisco 49ers haven’t changed much since 1968. In 1996, they modernized their logo, but it already looks a little dated, which is why I slightly prefer the 1968 version. I like the addition of gold, but big text shadows don’t help.

 

Seattle Seahawks

In 2002, I think the Seattle Seahawks had one of the best brand updates (surprise, it was Mark Verlander again). The neon green is a little annoying, but an already good logo was streamlined and made more aggressive than tired, like it looked before. Seriously, what was wrong with its eye? I love the use of blue and green in sports, but the old blue and green weren’t very good ones, and the new colors (other than neon green) are great.

 

Tampa Bay Buccaneers

In 1997, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally ditched their ugly original logo for something good. I don’t know who thought their original colors were a good idea. Or having a man with jaundice as a logo. Their new colors and identity are much better, though.

 

Tennessee Titans

I really like aspects of the Tennessee Titans’ rebranding after their switch from the Houston Oilers – the colors, the uniforms, the T/sword element of the logo – but the logo as a whole is a bit odd. I get the Tennessee flag part, but why is it flaming toward the earth? The Oilers logo was not overly exciting, but it was a strong, simple mark.

 

Washington Redskins

The Washington Redskins have redesigned their logo more than any other NFL team. Although, all but one have been pretty similar, and two are the same (in 1983, they brought back the 1972 logo, which they still use today). It’s the one that’s different that I like. The spear is a more simple visual way to show the team’s name, especially considering those who are offended by the Redskins name.

 

So that’s the history of all 32 NFL teams’ logos. Anything jump out at you? Any old logos you love?

37 Responses to “Team Logo History – NFL”

  1. 9erssteve
    July 21st, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    The 49ers logo you have listed as 1968 was infact released in 1989 I believe. First spotted painted in the Endzone of the Superbowl against the Bengals before appearing on the helmets the following year.

    You’re missing two other versions of the logo (in it’s SF configuration) and any mention of the now famous “One Day” logo as well. If you would like copies of any of these just let me know.

    9erssteve

  2. The Sports Design Blog
    July 22nd, 2011 at 1:42 pm

    Thanks, Steve. My years came from here: http://sportslogos.net/team.php?id=179

    I left the “one day” logo off since it was never actually used, but feel free to send me the others if you like (steven@thesportsdesignblog.com).

    Thanks.

  3. ed
    February 28th, 2012 at 3:14 pm

    I’ve always been told that you always keep the horseshoe up because its good luck. Otherwise the luck runs out. Anyway, its tradition as it’s always been that way.

  4. The Sports Design Blog
    February 28th, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Thanks, Ed. That’s really interesting.

  5. Elfman
  6. Eric
    February 28th, 2012 at 4:39 pm

    The charging buffalo was adopted in 1974?! I thought it was a bit later than that.

  7. Matt
    February 28th, 2012 at 4:59 pm

    Panthers Logo changed this offseason too so you already need an update!

  8. Jesse
    February 28th, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Others already listed my two comments: I remember the backlash over the “Forty-Nine Cents” logo change when I was a kid in SF, and the Panthers just rolled out a minor update a few weeks ago. Thanks for posting this!

  9. February 28th, 2012 at 7:14 pm

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  10. Phil
    February 29th, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Your Kansas City Chiefs timeline is off. A franchise founded as the Dallas Texans in 1960 can’t have logos circa 1952 and 1956.

  11. Tony
    March 21st, 2012 at 1:34 pm

    I love your site, but as a 15 year Graphic Design professional myself I could not disagree with you more on your choices in this article. Most of these new logos are annoying with their “aggressive” look and are cookie cutter in style. Realizing that the same person designed most of them explains quite a bit.

    Denver’s new logo is as hideous as their uniforms are. Ditto for the Rams, Patriots and Eagles. Being you are a self proclaimed Packers fan, I am surprised you don’t have a greater respect for tradition or team history.

    Most of these teams would benefit from less is more (aka Buffalo) going back to a more traditional look.

  12. The Sports Design Blog
    March 21st, 2012 at 2:24 pm

    Hi Tony,

    I think part of that stems from the fact that I’m a graphic design professional of only the last few years, and while I respect the history and tradition of some of these logos, many of the old ones are just poor illustrations.

    Teams like the Lions, Bills, and Giants came up with solid marks long ago that were nice and simple. But a lot of teams needed an update. The old Broncos logo is a D with what looks like a pencil sketch of a horse coming out of it. The old Patriots and Eagles logos were overly-detailed illustrations of mascots, not logos.

    Yes, a lot of the new ones are a similar style, which is somewhat cookie-cutter, but a sports team should have an aggressive logo. But when you say going back to “less,” I think today’s logos are simpler than the old ones, which were more detailed illustrations and less of a mark. Teams like the Texans have a very simple mark that’s still aggressive and fits in today.

  13. Tony
    March 22nd, 2012 at 11:47 am

    We can agree to disagree, because I love your site and your articles are well thought out and fresh. Now some of it may be nostalgia on my part, admittedly. But I just loathe the new logos. The Steelers are a historically tough defensive team, so to me there is no need for an edgy or aggressive logo to convey that.

    Look at the Super Bowl from two year ago, I could watch classic logos and uniforms like the Steelers and Packers all day. Ditto for last years NFC Championship between the NYG and SF. When I see Denver, or Atlanta now, it’s putrid. Atlanta are at least smart enough to have throwback games because those threads were classic. I feel the same for the Rams and Pats, and they are also wise enough to wear their throwbacks often.

    The Eagle’s 90 logo is so superior to the new one that the modern logo accosts my eyes to view it. I agree the E hidden in it is clever, but that is not enough to sell me on it or the other modern monstrosities they keep totting out. Look at Tampa, their uniforms and logo are already dated.

    I also should preface I like the expansion Houston’s logo, it fits the state of Texas perfectly. But then I also loved the Oilers logo as well. Just my two cents.

  14. games land
    April 7th, 2012 at 2:45 pm

    Hi, Neat post. There’s a problem along with your website in internet explorer, could test this? IE nonetheless is the marketplace chief and a big section of folks will pass over your fantastic writing due to this problem.

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  16. Roadtrip-'62 - Don Milne
    April 20th, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    Great information1 I had no idea that two of these logos were adopted back in my favorite year, 1962 (Bears, Steelers). And they’re both still in use with only minimal change! Classic design sense.

  17. J
    July 10th, 2012 at 10:31 am

    You forgot to mention that the ST louis Cardinals used to be associated with the Arizona and Chicago Cardinals as well..

  18. Joe
    October 2nd, 2012 at 8:54 pm

    Hello there. I’m Joey and I’m pleased with this blog. If you could possibly gain more info on the logos because some are outdated and I’ve seen some that were missing but overall this was very nice.

  19. james mcneill
    October 9th, 2012 at 1:08 pm

    you really missed it on the cowboys…where is the “cowboy” with the real boxy looking helmet riding the horse with the criss crossed legs, that is a really cool ol style logo and can you recommend an online site to buy t shirts with old style logo’s, not just a t with a pseudo worn look

  20. Peter
    November 13th, 2012 at 3:57 pm

    regarding the Tenessee Titans logo….may be derived from the Greek Titan Prometheus who gave man fire. if thats the casw then its quite sophisticated…

  21. Raphael Teodoro
    February 5th, 2013 at 10:39 am

    Hello,

    your blog is great. I wanna talk about the Indianapolis Colts´ horseshoe: I think they probably don´t turn the object into a C, because of the superstition which says that a horseshoe standing as an U holds the luck. If it turns down luck will fall.

    Anyway, very good post.

    See ya!

  22. Lee
    February 20th, 2013 at 12:05 am

    The Panthers original logo is supposed to loosely resemble the border of North and South Carolina combined. They also had a logo update, but that might have been after this blog was done. This was a very interesting post though, nonetheless.

  23. March 28th, 2013 at 3:00 pm

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  26. Jake
    September 30th, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Your Saints logos are incorrect. The first that is all black more closely resembles the current Fleur-de-lis than the original.

    Secondly, the gold Fleur-de-lis has never appeared on a Saints helmet. It’s used more for polo shirts and caps.

  27. Kooldesignmaker
    November 19th, 2013 at 8:43 am

    Very nice logo designs. I like them very much. I would say that the picture of a business is not only influenced by its Logo Design. That’s why it is vital that the identity a company has developed for itself is regular and filters via all degrees of the company.

  28. Shakes
    November 30th, 2013 at 9:37 pm

    Wow I never realized that the Eagles logo was supposed to have an E in it. Then again, I also didn’t notice that the Flyers logo was a stylized P for yeeeears. I guess it’s different when you grow up with a logo, it just becomes more of a symbol in your mind than an actual illustration of something.

  29. December 12th, 2013 at 5:57 pm

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  30. Braeden
    January 4th, 2014 at 12:54 am

    Logos suck, got to a different website, this Is trash

    TRASH

  31. Carl
    January 22nd, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Baltimore’s logo features a B at the specific instance of then owner Art Modell – cant recall exact source but its out there in credible places on the net!

  32. Liam
    January 30th, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    Tony,

    Ditto means happy birthday in spanish

  33. Liam
    January 30th, 2014 at 2:59 pm

    Oh, and shut up Tony

  34. chuck
    July 22nd, 2014 at 3:33 am

    does anyone know who designed the nfl logo?

  35. August 11th, 2014 at 11:03 am

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  36. Caleb
    August 12th, 2014 at 1:39 am

    You need to update the logos
    The Seahawks, jaguars,dolphins, vikings and buccaneers have changed their logos

  37. August 16th, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    [...] de Agosto en Canton Ohio ante los Buffalo Bills en el mítico Fawcett Stadium. Evolución logo NYG http://www.thesportsdesignblog.com/2011/06/03/team-logo-history-nfl/ Compartir:Me gusta:Me gusta Cargando… tagged with Logotipo, New York [...]

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