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January 25, 2012 8:49 PM   Subscribe

"Gridiron League is a collection of idealized NFL insignias that pay tribute to each team's history and geography in a period-specific aesthetic that glorifies the Vince Lombardi-era over the Cold-Activated-era. This is not an exercise in nostalgia but an interpretation of the league's founding principles through the symbols that we, as football fans, identify with most."

Of course, this is nothing new. Back in 2009 the New York Times invited designers to submit their logo ideas for the Super Bowl. And here's UnderConsideration's archive of recent sports-related rebrands.

Want more? Check out Chris Creamer's exhaustive database of sports logos, past and present (previously on the blue).
posted by Doleful Creature (45 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Needs more different texture overlays.

Also, the cold-activated era really is a pretty apt description for the last 6 or so years of sports in general.
posted by Jon_Evil at 8:54 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I like how they essentially wiped out the "Houston Texans" identity and went back to a straight-up interpretation of the Oilers.
(No hamburger. I really like it. Luv ya blue.)
posted by katemonster at 8:59 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The grungy paint splotch thing used in every single one of these logos makes them seem much more modern to me than I think the designer was aiming for. They would be much better if they were just solid colors.
posted by burnmp3s at 9:00 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Also, the cold-activated era really is a pretty apt description for the last 6 or so years of sports in general.

I knew exactly what that term meant without having heard it before. I'm stealing it.
posted by no regrets, coyote at 9:04 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Some of these are really nice, and it is great to see the move away from all the terrible mid-90s cartoony logos that are still populating far too many uniforms.

However, that Dolphins logo really needs some spinning fish if it is going to be in the same town as the Marlins. I mean, they could easily just add on a spinning dolphin on the top...and maybe two jumping dolphins on the side, and maybe just a bit of glitter, oh, and I guess you need a few seabirds on there, and...
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:17 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nike is taking over the jersey design and fabrication next season when Reebok's contract ends. We can only hope that they will preserve the few remaining original logos and uniforms, and revive the many histories that have long been relegated to ESPN Classic.

Seems unlikely.
posted by Snarl Furillo at 9:17 PM on January 25, 2012


Ugh, and I forgot to add that while I was impressed with the nice restrained designs of a lot of them, the one I was really hoping to see -- The Minnesota Vikings -- was the worst.

It looks like a Henley T-Shirt cast off onto the shores of the Charles after some Ivy League rower lost a race. This is Minnesota, not Cambridge. Da closest thing to rowin' yer gonna find there is when the Evinrude conks out on ya when yer up north fishin' at the cabin and you have to row back to the dock after dat walleye just slipped off the hook.
posted by This_Will_Be_Good at 9:22 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


The grungy paint splotch thing used in every single one of these logos makes them seem much more modern to me than I think the designer was aiming for. They would be much better if they were just solid colors.

Yeah, that seems pretty clearly intended to give them the retro/worn-in look. If you have a piece of memorabilia that's been sitting around for awhile, it might kinda look like that, but that isn't how it was designed. When the logos were made in the 60's and 70's, they were supposed to look new (imagine that!). They can't really say that this isn't about nostalgia if all the designs look like they've been sitting in the garage gathering dust/dirt/rust for a couple decades.

That being said, I do think some of them look pretty cool, Bills and Chiefs especially. Although the Vikings one really is awful and looks like it would fit in more for Ivy League Crew than the NFL. (Which I'm pretty sure is what This_Will_Be_Good said, but I haven't watched Fargo recently, so I only caught about half of it.)
posted by parallellines at 9:42 PM on January 25, 2012


Wow, these are all pretty good.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 9:46 PM on January 25, 2012


If you're interested in this FPP, you would probably enjoy Paul Lukas' Uni Watch, an enjoyably obsessive website...
...that deconstructs the finer points of sports uniforms in obsessive and excruciating detail. It has nothing to do with fashion — it’s about documenting and maintaining the visual history of sports design, and about minutiae fetishism as its own reward. [F]or those who understand the pleasures of detail obsession, programmatic classification systems, information overload, and sports history, you’ve come to the right place.
posted by Ian A.T. at 9:46 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


horrible. Most of those font choices cause me physical pain. I do wish they'd find a proper typographer and a graphic designer.
posted by leotrotsky at 9:50 PM on January 25, 2012


I'm unimpressed with the Chargers one because it steals the Padres' logo and adds an intertwined 'C'. The Chargers had much cooler retro logos than that!
posted by librarylis at 9:58 PM on January 25, 2012


I'm unimpressed with the Chargers one because it steals the Padres' logo and adds an intertwined 'C'. The Chargers had much cooler retro logos than that!

Yep, the horsey logo is pretty hard to beat. Also, including the team name in the initials bucks normal sports tradition. And even in this one set of designs, it's inconsistent. KCC for the Chiefs, SDC for the Chargers, CP for the Panthers; but New England just gets NE and Chicago just gets C?
posted by LionIndex at 10:03 PM on January 25, 2012


Why are the Vikings saddled with a yacht club polo shirt logo?
posted by me3dia at 10:07 PM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Aw, how classy and shit! You could inscribe them on champagne glasses that you sell to your rich fans for $300 a pop.

Meanwhile an actual football team logo needs to look like something you are going to wear while you are hitting somebody.
posted by furiousthought at 10:09 PM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is not an exercise in nostalgia

Your ubiquitous faux spackle overlay says otherwise.

The Seahawks in particular is uninspired shit. A block S, seriously? How about /some/ nod to the Salish/Tribal art style. Maybe a bird of somesort?

The crappy deco wave doesn't work at all with the spackle-fill, and at best it looks like a crappy motif for the Mariners, instead its a super crappy motif for the seahawks.

Vikings? Fuck you, it looks like an in-house J.C Penny brand shirt design.

I like the Lions, and ironically only because the lion rampant looks like it a smooth european luxury car badge. That would be the opposite of evoking motor city.

The cardinals looks like it should be one a Redhook Brewery package.

Actually, as a counterpoint to the Cold-Activated era, I guess they are succesfull... lots of them look like they belong on too-big-to-be-called-micro-brews-anymore packaging, like Redhook, Winehards, etc.

If they at least looked like they'd be at home on a Lienenkugel's label, maybe I could get behind it.

I think the Patriots is really well done, and , if he'd have just stopped there I would say 'huzzah! well done, design nerd!'.

Oh well.

disclaimer: I don't give a shit about football, I only can name all the teams and mascots by city/state because when I was a young boy they were regularly posted on the back of wheaties boxes displaying collectible plastic helmets etc. Thus also if an expansion team was created or someone moved after about 1985, I might not know about it. Anyway, the point is that I suppose there is heritage and period specific and team specific importance that I'm not grasping as a non member of the Footballrati.
posted by blackfly at 10:16 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I knew exactly what that term meant without having heard it before. I'm stealing it.

I did not, nor did I find the link to be explanatory. Will some one explan it to me?
posted by maryr at 10:39 PM on January 25, 2012


NINE stars on the Patriots flag?? What the heck is that supposed to signify? There are only six states in jolly old New England.

Maybe the superfluous stars are meant as a warning of plans for a land-grab of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Quebec? Or are there two extra stars in honor of "Two If By Sea," plus one more for... chowdah or something?

Harumph.
posted by argonauta at 11:02 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think it's pretty easy to tell what teams the designer cares about - the ones that were reduced to lettering seem like afterthoughts.

Huge literal LOL at the Lions & Eagles' ball carrying animals. Couldn't do something like that for the Jaguars or Seahawks? Also, the Dolphins logo looks like it should be embroidered on a hand towel.
posted by troika at 11:40 PM on January 25, 2012


First off, the winners: Texans, Lions (Love the deepening of the blue), Redskins, Chiefs, Broncos and Bills.

Browns, Eagles, Steelers & Bengals: I don't see how any of these work as logos that would go on a helmet (the Brown's absence of a logo on their uniform is what make their uni's so great). All these logos are nice for team letterhead or sholuder patches, though.

The Patriots logo is nice, but out of place with the other designs (too modern for the retro look they're aiming for here). It really should be the new logo for NE's MLS team, the Revolution, though. (As an aside, I have long maintained that the biggest sin with the Patriots current uni's was ditching the white from their helmets and pants and replacing it with silver. I don't even mind their more abstract logo that replaced Pat the Patriot on the their helmets, but man, that silver has got to go).

Raiders, Cowboys, Giants, Jets, Green Bay, Colts, Saints, KC and Arizona. Their current helmet logos/ color schemes are fine. These "retro" logos are unimaginative and unneccesary (the former being a greater crime in my eyes than the latter).

The Dolphins. I have a personal rule about teams named after animals and that is "If your team is named after an animal, then your uniform and/or logo better have a representation of said animal or at least somethjing closely associated with it." This logo fails. Take out the "M" and put a dolphin (in profile) leaping out of the water at the bottom. Other "animal" teams that fail this test: Jaguars, Falcons (that one little wing ain't cutting it; give me more bird or less font), Seahawks, Bears (yes, the "C" is iconic and old school but I'd rather see this on the helmet) and Panthers.

Chargers & 49ers. I have another rule: Unless your team has some sort of common origin (same founding owner, etc) with a team from another sport in your town, don't bite their logos.

Ravens: Almost there, but take out the large B, move the Raven to the center and make the bird black. The best thing this logo does (and why I exempt it from the rule set out above) is it strips out the garish color scheme the current Ravens uni's have. That shit has got to go. Now.

Titans: drop one of the T's and center it, then you have it.

Vikings: What. The. Fuck. Keep the current horns on the helmets or go the classic Clevland route and ditch a helmet logo entirely (while keeping the current color scheme)
posted by KingEdRa at 11:54 PM on January 25, 2012


I think the Patriots is really well done, and , if he'd have just stopped there I would say 'huzzah! well done, design nerd!'.

C'mon. That's *hideous*.

The Bears are OK, because it's based on the retro Bears C that they *still use*, but it's still far too busy. The Cowboys are not okay, because they have had the Lone Star logo since *they began*. Everyone's bitching about 1990 logofication and then throwing out the logos that survived it.

I like the Vikings one because it sucks just as much as the team and stadium do. I hate Green Bay more than I hate the Vikings, and even I can't stomach what's been done to their logo here.

These are hideous. About the only one I like is the Lions, but the Lion's logo is fine as is.
posted by eriko at 2:04 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I did not, nor did I find the link to be explanatory. Will some one explan it to me?
  • The audience is expected to have cold beer in hand at all times
  • They can't be arsed to walk over to the cooler and touch the beer so Coors put some color-changing paint on to help them out
  • A bro who fails to honor the bro code is a bro no more, I ain't even playin'
posted by LogicalDash at 3:22 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Bears are OK perfect just the way they are. I agree that the faded coloring doesn't fit, but one of the things I love about the Bears logo (which, combined with the Michigan State 'S' logo, are the only logoed ball caps I'll wear) is that you just can't update it. You can't alter it without losing everything that makes it so perfect.

Some of the others were all right, but there's too much 'use the initials only' sameness to the project. Obviously, Green Bay stays with the letters, since there's no other logo to be had, but the Giants' logo looks like a rip off of the Yankees, I can't imagine anyone rooting for an Abercrombie & Fitch team, and it kind of goes downhill from there. The Chiefs, without the letters, and the Oilers/Texans thing is kind of nice though.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:42 AM on January 26, 2012


Redesign the Steeler's logo? There'd be rioting in the streets if they tried that. What's next, putting the logo on both sides of the helmet?
posted by octothorpe at 3:50 AM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


The problem with the Bears logo here is they put the word "Bears" inside the classic C logo, so now it's both way unbalanced and stealing a trick, badly, from the Cubs logo

I agree that the Bears C is just about perfect. Plus, I love the old school way of emphasizing the city, not the team name. (nods to Green Bay, The Giants, SF, KC, arguably Dallas, and possibly Tennessee.)
posted by eriko at 3:54 AM on January 26, 2012


I quite like his Ravens logo design.

And Freaky Freezies were awesome.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:45 AM on January 26, 2012


Interestingly, the logos I like the most are for the teams I have the least interest in or emotional connection with.

Just yesterday I was admiring the Colts script on Kush's hat in this picture.
posted by These Premises Are Alarmed at 4:59 AM on January 26, 2012


I'm trying to figure-out what he's reacting against, seeing as how most of the logos he's redone in a supposedly "era-specific" look, were created during that very era. As is usual with this sort of thing, he's using a very narrow, graphic pigeonhole (which really isn't even all that accurate) to speak for an entire period of time. It's sort of a faux-nostalgic design conceit.

The Steelers redesign is a good example. The classic steel industry logo is a product of the exact era he's trying to evoke, and his redesign says far less about the team and the community.

I guess the up-side here is he didn't do one of those faux Saul Bass redesigns all the cool kids love.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:29 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm trying to figure-out what he's reacting against, seeing as how most of the logos he's redone in a supposedly "era-specific" look, were created during that very era.

That's what I was thinking. The Packers "Lombardi-era" logo is still the current Packers logo.
posted by drezdn at 5:44 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


The Bengals one makes me want a can of Hudy Delight, so he nailed it.
posted by Mick at 5:59 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


First off, the winners: Texans

The Texans redesign was the best because he just turned it back into the Houston Oilers colors and logo. Putting it next to Tennessee was dumb, and points out what a decline in logo/name that move was.

The attempts at Jacksonville and Carolina were probably as bland and uninspired as they were since those are the other recent expansion teams that actually have no nostalgia to go back to.
posted by jermsplan at 6:04 AM on January 26, 2012


This guys idea of 60s graphic design seems limited to the Carling Black Label can.
posted by bendybendy at 6:45 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a Lions fan, I gotta say that Lions redesign beats the living crap out of the "TurboCat" the team introduced in 2009. It's classic-looking, speaks to a sense of elite, and even evokes a sense of HISTORY... something the Lions have rarely embraced (which reminds me, until they make the throwback unis their full-time unis, I won't be truly happy with the Detroit Lions uniform design).

I'd happily pay good money for merch with that logo.
posted by Edison Carter at 7:39 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


Raiders fan here. If you think you can improve on that logo I believe you are deluded. I am reminded of a Jimmy Breslin quip where he said the New York Yankees have the greatest logo since the Nazi Party. There are several other logos which cannot reasonably be messed with.

Pittsburgh and Indianapolis are two obvious ones.
posted by bukvich at 7:48 AM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


I thought these were pretty cool. I hope they do something like this for Baseball. I wanna see what they do with my beloved A's.
posted by dfm500 at 7:53 AM on January 26, 2012


The Blue Jays have just returned to their original 70's logo, according to the link above, and I have to say, it looks GREAT. Meanwhile, I *hate* the new/old Orioles cartoon logo, but I don't have any sentimental attachment to it. I'm still not a huge fan, but I do preferred the version someone made here. The new Marlins logo looks like something out of Urban Outfitters in the worst way possible, but they don't have a classic to fall back on.

Here's a page with tons of baseball logos. So much for getting work done.
posted by maryr at 8:21 AM on January 26, 2012


Snarl Furillo: "[Nike is taking over the jersey design and fabrication next season when Reebok's contract ends. We can only hope that they will preserve the few remaining original logos and uniforms, and revive the many histories that have long been relegated to ESPN Classic.]

Seems unlikely.
"

Uni Watch has done some good reporting on this. The short version is: Nike may be messing with fabrics and such, but logos and designs are still controlled by the owners, who are pretty conservative with this stuff.
posted by Chrysostom at 8:22 AM on January 26, 2012




No, sir. That's the St Louis Rankin-Bass Production of the Hobbit.
posted by Edison Carter at 9:12 AM on January 26, 2012


Interesting. He's already changed the Texan's logo (replacing the oil rig with the outline of the state of Texas, which now pushes it onto "fails on account of unimaginativity" pile) and the Vikings logo, filling it out a little more, but still going with the paddle theme. Ugh. Gilding a turd.

That Rams logo he just put up is terrible. I've already gone over the "team named after animals" thing above.
posted by KingEdRa at 10:55 AM on January 26, 2012


The St. Louis RMAs? Not sure LA wants them back.
posted by inigo2 at 12:13 PM on January 26, 2012


Also, I think the missing Tampa Bay Bucs logo is an ironic play on the state of their fans.
posted by inigo2 at 12:14 PM on January 26, 2012


The Texans logo has never been an oil rig - that was the Oilers. And while I like some of his ideas here, I have to say I actually prefer their current logo.
posted by John Smallberries at 5:01 PM on January 26, 2012


Also, the cold-activated era

Right, I have forgotten to mention AWESOME that phrase is.

No, not awesome, BLEEPING AWESOME.

No, not bleeping awesome, FUCKING BLEEPING AWESOME!

Well done!
posted by eriko at 8:52 PM on January 26, 2012


Tampa Bay's logo is included.

I don't really see anything wrong with TB's logo, except that the amount of effort put into making it seems to equal that of Buccaneer players on the field.
posted by CancerMan at 9:00 AM on January 27, 2012


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