An NFL team’s logo or emblem is its most iconic identifier. All it takes is a glance at an iconic NFL team logo like Chicago’s red bullhead or Miami’s leaping dolphin. You will instantly recognize which team that imagery signifies.
With 32 teams currently playing in the National Football League, NFL logos are far easier to remember and associate than the teams’ names. Now some teams like the Dallas Cowboys and the Oakland Raiders haven’t changed their logos since they joined the NFL. Others like the Washington Redskins and the LA Rams are quite the opposite.
Let us now look at the logos of the teams and find out what these iconic NFL logos represent in 2021.
There is a minimal number of sports associations or organizations with a logo as iconic as the NFL logo. Also called the NFL shield, the logo has been in use by the organization for a very long time. Designed in-house instead of opting for external logo design services, the current design is the result of minor cosmetic changes made to the original design through the years.
Studies conducted on the topic report that an NFL team’s logo sees about 3.7 changes in its life. This comes out to about 14 years before a change is required. And it’s the same stats for the NFL shield as well.
The NFL shield logo still looks quite similar to the one used at the NFL’s inauguration in 1920. Moreover, it has seen only minor changes through the years to modernize it. And it was in the 1940s that the logo came into its current form. The word NFL was moved down, and the star was moved to the top of the shield. Finally, the stripes behind the NFL wording were made pink. Thus, the current logo came into being, which is still going strong eight decades later.
The first significant change in the logo came in 2008. The font was changed to make it sharper. The shield was made a little longer and thinner, and the color shades were darker. The stars on the top were reduced from 25 to 8.
Besides the primary NFL logo, various variants are also designed to commemorate various events. They include the NFL draft logo, the NFL 100 logo celebrating the centennial birthday of the League, and many others.
As for the typeface used for the various NFL logos, there is no standard NFL logo font. Every team uses their proprietary font for their wordmark logo, and therefore, no two symbols look the same.
The National Football Conference or the NFC is one of the two associations of the NFL. Each of these NFL associations consists of sixteen teams. The teams in each association are divided into four divisions. Each division; east, north, south, and west; consist of four teams. It allows the NFC to schedule matches between its teams in shorter groups, allowing for better planning and scheduling.
The current defending champion for the NFC is the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They defeated the Green Bay Packers for the NFC Championship title in 2020.
The NFC- East division is one of the four divisions of the NFL’s National Football Conference. It consists of four teams, with the Washington Football Team as its current division champion.
This division has had all four of its teams win at least one Super Bowl. This is a feat unmatched by any other division in the entire National Football League. Moreover, the division is one of the most successful in the NFL as well. The teams have won 21 NFC Championship titles and 13 Super Bowl titles since the 1970s.
This division is a true NFL contender made up of four of the top ten ranked NFL teams.
The Dallas Cowboys are one of the most successful NFL teams, with eight Super Bowl appearances and five wins. Additionally, they hold the most NFC Championship titles, with eight wins over the years.
Joining the NFL as an expansion team in 1960, they have seen massive success over the years. That resulted in the franchise being valued at $5 billion in 2018. It also holds the record for being named the highest valued NFL team for 12 years straight in 2018.
The Dallas Cowboys NFL logo is straightforward.
This NFL logo for the team has been used since 1964. Combined with the team’s massive success rate, the logo is widely popular.
The New York Giants are one of the oldest teams in the NFL, who joined in 1925 along with four other teams. They are the only one of those five teams still playing in the NFL. The New York Giants have the third-highest number of NFL Championship titles. They have won eight NFL titles over the years with 19 Championship appearances.
The oldest team in the Northeastern US has a famous rivalry with fellow division team Philadelphia Eagles. It has been called one of the best rivalries of this century, which has been going on since 1933.
The primary NFL logo for the New York Giants has seen many changes over nearly a century of gameplay.
The Philadelphia Eagles have been a part of the NFL since 1933. They were formed to replace the then bankrupt Frankford Yellow Jackets. Over the years, many top-tier pro players have passed through the team ranks. Moreover, many of them have been inducted into the NFL’s Pro Football Hall of Fame.
The highly-famed rivalry with Philadelphia Eagles is called one of the best rivalries in the NFL. And it has been going on for nearly a century. Additionally, their list of rivalries includes illustrious teams such as the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Washington Football team, and the Dallas Cowboys.
The last change made the logo better suited for the modern design aesthetic while still keeping to the roots of the initial logo.
The Washington Football Team is one of the oldest teams in the NFL, formed in 1932. Initially called the Washington Redskins, the professional football team has played over a thousand games. It is also one of the five NFL teams to record more than 600 wins throughout their career.
They were the first NFL franchise to hire a marching band and devise an anthem. Their practice of adopting a native American caricature for their logo shows that branding is essential in football.
The last change made the logo better suited for the modern design aesthetic while still keeping to the roots of the initial logo.
One of the four divisions of the NFC, the North Division, is known as the “The Black and Blue Division.” That is due to the intense rivalry and competition between this sector’s teams. Three of the four division teams have played against each other since the mid-1930s, with the fourth team joining them in 1961.
With five NFL championship titles, this division is known for its rough style of play. The current defending champion for this division is the Green Bay Packers. The Minnesota Vikings hold the highest number of division titles at 20 wins.
Starting as the Decatur Staleys, Chicago Bears logo came into being in 1919. In 1921, the franchise moved the team to Chicago and was renamed the Chicago Staleys. And finally, in 1922, the visionary team owner George Halas changed the team’s name to the Chicago bears.
It is one of two original franchises still playing since the founding of the National Football League in 1920. The other team was the Cardinals.
Over the years, the franchise has tried out different variations of its logo. Still, it has ultimately retained the classic logo generations of people have known them by.
Originally called the Portsmouth Spartans, the franchise came into being in 1930. Over the next four years, financial issues forced the team to move to Detroit in 1934. Honoring the native MLB franchise’s naming theme, the Tigers, they renamed the Detroit Lions.
From 1935-1957, the Lions won four NFL Championship titles. Since then they have only won a single playoff game in 1992. However, they haven’t been able to advance further than the NFC Championship.That makes them the oldest and only NFC team to not participate in the Super Bowl despite being active the entire era.
Based in Green Bay, Wisconsin, it is the third-oldest franchise in the NFL. It is also the only community-owned major league professional sports team based in the US. Inaugurated in 1919, it is the last of the typical small-town teams common in the NFL’s early days.
The smallest pro-sports team in the country, the team was worth an estimated $2.63 billion in 2019. This made them the 27th most valuable sports team globally. The team has also been one of the most successful teams in the NFL, with nine pre-Super Bowl NFL championship wins and four Super Bowl titles to their name.
Started in 1960 as an expansion team, the Minnesota Vikings have the highest winning percentage in the NFL. It is a feat unheard of for a team that has never won a Super Bowl, with the highest playoff loss score of 30 losses.
Moreover, they have the highest playoff runs, the highest conference championship appearances, and the most division titles for any team in the NFL.
Minnesota is also home to many people with Scandinavian lineage. The name and the logo for the franchise pay homage to that fact.
This version of the logo has been in use since 2013 and has been quite a hit with the fans.
Formed as a division before the 2002 NFL season, it consists of three teams from the NFC West and one team from the NFC Central, now the NFC North. The defending division champions are the New Orleans Saints, with seven division titles since the start of the division in 2002.
The Atlanta Falcons team has an interesting origin story. They came into being when the NFL offered their owner at that time, Rankin Smith, a franchise in the League. They were worried that he might join the American Football League, which was the rival football association to the NFL at that time.
The franchise came into being at the end of the 1965 season, and in the 55 years since they started, their logo has seen some minor design changes.
The team is using this design to this day.
One of the youngest franchises in the NFL, the Carolina Panthers franchise started in 1995 as an expansion team in the NFL. Unlike many other teams supported by their home states, the Panthers are claimed and supported by South Carolina and North Carolina. This unlikely friendship has fostered hashtags such as the #OneCarolina, which signifies that they are the team for both states.
In the short time since they joined pro football, their logo has seen some minor changes.
With a robust initial design for their logo, they have not needed to make any changes to it so far.
The New Orleans Saints started in 1966 and is one of the older teams in the NFL. Featuring a mix of gold, white, and black as their colors, they pay homage to their legacy as the brainchild of oil business people.
The team’s name was chosen as Saints for the iconic jazz music called “When the saints go marching.” Moreover, as the New Orleans area is predominantly French-influenced, it is easy to see why they chose a fleur-de-lis logo.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are the franchise hailing from Tampa Bay, Florida. Joining the NFL in 1976, they have been plagued with many issues that have seen them put on a dismal display.
Formed when a tax attorney Hugh Culverhouse from Jacksonville, was offered a franchise in the NFL, the team got their first-ever win in the 13th game of their second season. Starting their career with zero wins and 26 losses.
Over the years, their logo has changed three times.
Formed in 1967, this division is one of the only two divisions in the NFL whose member teams have all won at least three division titles since its inception. The second division to have each member team participate in a Conference Championship game and a Super Bowl appearance.
The current defending division champions are the Seattle Seahawks. The San Francisco 49ers hold the highest number of division titles at 20 wins.
The Arizona Cardinals were established in Chicago in the late 1800s, and they began as an amateur football team, which joined the NFL in 1920. After spending 40 years in Chicago, the Cardinals moved to St. Louis for the next 28 years. Finally, in 1988, the team moved to Phoenix, where they are situated to date.
Their logo, too, saw three different designs based on the city they called home at the time.
Established in 1936 as the Cleveland Rams, they joined the NFL in 1937. The team holds the NFL record for being the only team to win League Championships representing three cities. They won for Cleveland in 1945, Los Angeles in 1951, and St. Louis in 1999.
Their logo has gone through several changes over time, especially with them moving to different cities during their career.
The LA Rams’ new NFL logo is a sharp contrast against the other teams, considering their use of a wordmark-based design.
The San Francisco 49ers were formed in 1946 and joined the All-American Football Conference as a pro team. They soon became the first team from one of the four big sports to be established on the West Coast. Through the years, the logo for the team has seen little change.
The NFL decided to award an expansion franchise to the city of Seattle in 1974, and the name Seahawks was chosen through a public contest. The first season they played was in 1976. Over nearly five decades of playing, their logo has seen just one significant design change.
The second Conference of the NFL, the AFC, consists of 16 member franchises like the NFC. The structure for the divisions is the same as its counterpart, with four divisions named according to the cardinal points of a compass, and each division has four teams in it.
The current defending champions for the Conference are the Kansas City Chiefs, with the New England Patriots holding the highest number of Conference titles with 11 wins.
The AFC East Division was formed in 1960 as a counterpart to the AFC West Division. The division consists of some of the best teams in the NFL, who have taken part in twenty-one Super Bowls, and won 10 of them. The current defending champion for the division is the Buffalo Bills. The New England Patriots have the most significant number of titles with 22 wins.
The team was initially known as the Buffalo Bisons, but in 1947 decided to rebrand themselves. Thus they named themselves the Buffalo Bills. However, the name was not theirs for long, as they were merged into the Cleveland Browns in 1950.
While that team is no more, the name was so popular that a new Buffalo Bills formed in the AFL in 1960. and the 1970 merger of the NFL and the AFL made the team join the NFL.
The franchise was part of the AFL since 1965 when they were awarded a franchise as expansion. The early 70s were a great time for the Dolphins, where they were the first team to advance to three league championships in a row. Moreover, they are the only NFL team to have a perfect season ever, which they had in 1972.
Starting as the Boston Patriots in 1960, they were named after the people of the thirteen colonies who rebelled against the British empire. After the NFL-AFL merger, the name was changed to the New England Patriots.
One of the charter members of the AFL and was called the Titans of New York. After three seasons, they changed their name to the Jets. After winning the AFL title in 1968, they played against the NFL champions in Super Bowl III. They were so successful against the opposing team that it became a deciding factor in the AFL-NFL merger.
This division was formed in 2002, after the NFL restructuring. It is also the only division in the League not to have a Super Bowl hosted in its stadiums. The current reigning division champions are the Pittsburgh Steelers. They also have the honor of winning the highest number of division titles at 24 wins.
The team came into being after the Cleveland Browns owner decided to move the team to Baltimore. The team needed to be renamed due to the team’s deal with the NFL that they leave the history and legacy of the Cleveland Browns name behind for a replacement team to take over.
Under the ownership of Paul Brown, an AFL expansion team was offered for the city of Cincinnati. He named it the Bengals to honor the old AFL team who played for the town from 1937 to 1942.
Started in 1944, the original Cleveland Browns were a part of the AAFC. After moving to the NFL in 1950, the team played for the League for the next four and a half decades. That was until they moved to the city of Baltimore. Unable to take the name with them, a new team was formed for the Cleveland seat in 1999.
An old team, they started in 1933 and was named the Pirates like their patron baseball team. In 1940, the team owner decided to change the name to differentiate themselves from their landlord baseball team and called it the Steelers as an homage to the city’s most significant industry.
One of the four divisions from the AFC comprises three teams from other divisions and one entirely new team. It is often called the latest division, and it consists of teams that had played 18 or fewer seasons in their home cities. Its current division champions are the Tennessee Titans. In contrast, the team with the highest number of division titles is the Indianapolis Colts, with nine wins.
It was the last of the current NFL teams to be inducted into the League, joining in 1999. Named the Texans, the second team hails from Texas after the Houston Oilers, who moved to Tennessee in 2002.
Originally called the Miami Seahawks, the team was relocated to Baltimore and joined the NFL a few years later. After the original team disbanded, a new team took the franchise’s name and became the Colts. In 1984, due to poor performance, the team owner decided to move the team to Indianapolis.
After the 1993 season, Jacksonville was offered to form a franchise for the NFL. This team and the Carolina Panthers were the first teams to enter the NFL as expansion teams in almost two decades.
This logo design is still in use nowadays.
Originally hailing from Tennessee, the team was named the Houston Oilers. After moving to Tennessee, the team was renamed the Tennessee Oilers and then The Tennessee Titans. Beginning as a charter member of the AFL, the team was quite successful in the 1960s. They were also the first NFL team to play in a domed stadium.
This division for the AFC has sent a team to the Super Bowl eighteen times since its formation, starting from the first Super Bowl. As of 2020, the Denver Broncos and the Las Vegas Raiders have the most Super Bowl wins of the division, with three wins each. The current reigning division champions are the Kansas City Chiefs. The record for most wins in the division is a three-way tie between the Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, and the Los Angeles Chargers with 15 wins each.
Established in 1959, the team was named via a naming contest, which yielded the Broncos’ winning name. Originally a part of the AFL, they joined the NFL after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.
The franchise was founded in 1960 and named the Dallas Texans. After moving to Kansas City in 1963, the team changed its name to the Chiefs. It was one of the primary figures in making the NFL-AFL merger happen.
The Raiders originated in Oakland and got their name through a public naming contest. Over the years, the team has moved back and forth between Oakland and Las Vegas, finally settling to play in Las Vegas for the 2020 season.
This version has been in use till now.
One of the eight AFL teams that were initiated in 1959, the team started playing in 1960. After only one year of playing from LA, the team moved to San Diego. After a decade of playing for the AFL, the team joined the NFL as part of the AFL-NFL merger as the San Diego Chargers. Finally, the team moved back to Los Angeles in 2017.
The eight stars on the logo signify the eight divisions of the NFL, four from the AFC and four from the NFC.
Some people say that the letter E becomes visible within the design by facing the left. But if that is true, it is a massive coincidence.
The NFL 100 logo is a logo designed to showcase the 100 years of the League in this game. It is a way to commemorate this milestone.
The in-house marketing team designed the current NFL logo under the supervision of the Senior Vice President of Marketing at the time, Lisa Baird.
In the end, the NFL logos history for the teams that play this sport is quite vast. Covering them in a single article is doing them an injustice. But if an overview of the significant NFL teams and how their current logos and imagery came to be is what you are after, then you have come to the right place.