Article: Retro NFL Logos That No Longer Exist: Howstuffworks
Retro NFL Logos That No Longer Exist
About This Article
The NFL has come a long way from where it started. One need only look to see the stats of teams like the Akron Pros or the Dayton Triangles to realize that. The league has been shaken up, expanded, reshuffled, moved and altered numerous times over its history as have many of the teams that once played in it. Some are long since gone, while others have been renamed or sent to new cities. Nothing of the NFL today looks like the NFL of 90 years ago, or 50 years ago, and barely even 20 years ago for many teams. You have to change to stay current and fresh. Old logos fall out of favor because they look dated, they've been around forever, and fans start to associate them with the way things used to be.
Teams need to breathe new life into the franchises now and then, and a logo overhaul is a great way to do that. But some of those older logos had a charm to them. Of course, some of them were just terrible, but hey, it was a different time. No one likes clothes from the '80s anymore, but they were cool back in the day. So let's check out what the NFL thought was cool back in the day by taking a look at some retro logos.
The rootin' tootin' 49ers
From 1946 to 1967, the San Francisco 49ers were the team of Yosemite Sam. As you no doubt know, 49ers was the name given to the massive influx of gold prospectors who made their way to California in 1849 after gold was discovered and the promise of riches was too great to ignore. Were those 49ers all wearing pajamas and shooting the ground as they danced about with gold fever? We can only guess!
Browns or magical elves?
From 1959 to 1969, the Cleveland Browns opted to use the long-lost brother of Snap, Crackle, and Pop as their logo. In fairness, a Brownie is a kind of fairy or pixie, like the Rice Krispies elves, so that's likely where the connection came from. On the other hand, when you're competing against Lions, Tigers and Cowboys, is a whimsical elf really the image you want to portray?
What were the Bears thinking in 1973 when they phased out this amazing logo featuring a surly bear clawing its way up over a giant football? Or, and maybe even better, it's a regular football being scaled by a tiny bear. Whatever the case, this logo was part of the team from 1954 to 1973, so it had a good run and is probably due for a comeback.
Working the high steel with the Steelers
Pittsburgh is steel town, and the Steelers got their name because of it, so this logo featuring a happy chap looking for a field goal on the high steel seems like a no-brainer. It's also very dated looking, and you can easily believe it fit into the 1962 to 1968 time frame in the team's history. There's just something about that art style that screams the '60s, and it had to evolve.
The New England Patriots are one of the winningest teams in NFL history and with a name like "Patriots," they inspire thoughts of America and freedom and a whole Captain America vibe. That's likely why this Boston Patriots logo from 1960 to 1971 was retired. That man looks less like a patriot and more like a maniac.
Kansas City did what now?
Oh, Kansas City. Where to begin with this logo from 1963? It's a man in a loincloth with what appears to be Super Saiyan hair on his head (or is that a Native American?) and full-on peach fuzz hair on his butt. Yeah, he's wearing pants, but no one colored them in, so he appears to have hairy thighs. And that's not even addressing the racial issues that plague the team to this day.
Busting that bronco
In 1962, the Broncos produced this questionable logo which only lasted a few years. It's not hard to see why since this man looks less like he's riding the horse and more like he's trying to crush it beneath his feet. It's just a weird image overall and was on the way out by the 1969 season.
Baltimore bombed this one
If you don't follow football super carefully, you might be having a hard time placing the Baltimore Bombers. That's reasonable since the Bombers never actually played in the NFL. They were a proposed expansion team, and the name Bombers came from the B-26 Marauder which was manufactured in Baltimore during the Second World War.
The Giants went big
The New York Giants may want to consider resurrecting this 1950 logo because it's awesome. This is Godzilla-scale football across the New York skyline, which is something you don't see every day. This logo was only in play for five years, however. Maybe people thought it was a little too pretentious. By 1961, they were using the "NY" initials that they've stuck with ever since.
Aaargh! It's the Pirates!
Say Pittsburgh Pirates today, and people assume you mean baseball. But there was a time when the Pirates played football. These were the Steelers before they were the Steelers and their logo was somewhat confusing if you don't know the city. This logo shows the city flag of Pittsburgh featuring the city crest, something which, outside of Pittsburgh, would have been very hard to figure out.
Horseplay in Baltimore
Before Indianapolis, the Colts were a Baltimore team, and their logo was less horseshoe and more full-on horse. This logo saw action from 1953 to 1960, and if nothing else, the font is a dead giveaway. It looks like every retro TV show you ever stumbled across on the weird channels late at night. In 1961, they opted to make the horse a little more stylized and dropped the wording. By 1979, they had adopted a simple horseshoe as their logo.
The Oilers looked salty
From 1961 to 1968, the Houston Oilers were using a surly-looking cowboy oilman to get their message across. While playing football in cowboy boots may have been a bad idea, the logo had a few years of usefulness before they did a total overhaul and replaced it with a helmet that featured an oil tower on the side.
Flying high with the Jets
This logo from 1963 is almost too on the nose, isn't it? It's a jet. That's all there is to it. Maybe it was the weird simplicity that did the logo in or the fact it also kind of looks like a dolphin that caused the team to abandon it, but abandon it they did. A football-shaped logo quickly replaced it with the word "Jets" inside superimposed over "NY."
The Redskins have a point
While the modern Redskins logo continues to cause controversy with many people wanting to keep it out of tradition, it's worth noting that it wasn't always the logo they used. From 1965 to 1969, Washington abandoned the Native American head logo and its various redesigns in favor of a simple spear and feather combo.
The Pack attack!
You can't say Green Bay didn't hit the green part of their name whenever the opportunity arose. This logo lasted from 1956 to 1961 and was a little busy if we're being honest. It features a quarterback over the state of Wisconsin decked out in the number 41 in honor of both Arnie Herber and Clark Hinkle, players from years earlier.
The Lions got wild
Even in the present, this retro Lions logo from 1961 is really cool. It's very clean and simple and would probably work well today if they wanted to bring it back. As it was, they put it in the dustbin back in 1969 and it was replaced with the lion silhouette logo that has endured with various edits up until the present day.
The hyper realistic Eagles
In 1933, when the Eagles first hit the scene in the NFL, this was the logo they were going with, a curiously realistic eagle clutching a football in its talons. It only lasted a couple of years and was replaced with a green logo that was similar but much more stylized. If only they'd stuck with this logo for a few more decades, it would have fit in well with Monty Python's migrating, coconut-clutching swallows.
Butting heads with the Rams
The Los Angeles Rams currently use a stylized ram's head as a logo, and it has been the go-to for the team for decades. That said, their chosen ram's head in 1951 was more of a nightmare than anything else. This version has the look of an angry undead ram skeleton coming to lay waste to its enemies, which is either really cool or bizarre depending on your preferences.
The Raiders are coming!
The Raiders have been pretty consistent with their logos since the team was created. They wanted that somewhat serene-looking fellow with his eye patch and some crossed swords, and they have never strayed from that formula. That said, their initial run at it, as seen in this logo from 1960, is not quite as refined as what they have today and includes an oddly mustard-colored football.
The Bronco buster
The Broncos have always included a horse somewhere in their logo, but their old-school logos were of another breed. Used from 1960 to 1961, this original Broncos logo was fun and funky but also kind of weird. Is that guy picking his teeth on horseback? What does that even mean? The logo didn't go over well and didn't represent football, so it was retired relatively quickly.
Green Bay goes super old school
In 1921, logo creativity was very clearly not big on the list of priorities for Green Bay. This logo reads more like an ad from the Sunday paper than an actual logo and even includes a slogan from the Acme Packing Company which bought the team back in 1920 from the Indian Packing Company. As logos go, this may be the worst one in NFL history.
The 49er shield
After the 49ers old-timey prospector logo, they've pretty consistently stuck to just using the number 49 as a logo. That said, this alternate logo from 1965 took on a very clean, very stylish look that brings to mind a medieval knight's shield. It didn't get a lot of play as an alternate logo, but it's cool enough that it could be resurrected even today.
The Giants go to NY
In 1961, New York dropped the football guy from their logos and just went straight with the NY logo. From 1961 to 1974, it looked almost exactly like the present-day logo minus the red outline. Then, in 1975, they went with this weird maze of text you see above. It only lasted for one year, likely because it somehow made two letters hard to read.
Football in a football in NY
You can see how the modern Jets logo evolved from this 1964 version, but the current model is an improvement. Today the football shape is green, "New York Jets" reads legibly in front of it, and the small, white football sits in the foreground. This is almost an inverse image with a weirdly sloppy layout, and the football isn't even football-shaped. What's up with that?
The curiously muddy Steelers
You can sort of see where Pittsburgh was going with this logo. That's a steel mill-inspired theme, but it's so much stuff in such a small place, it's impossible to make out from a distance. This was the team logo from 1945 to 1961, which is quite a while to use something so busy, but logos were a mixed bag back then. Cleaned up, it could be pretty cool.
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