Happy birthday, Flying Elvis: A run through Patriots logo history



Earlier this week, RamsNewLook.com went stay, confirming a leaked brand damaged by a fan whose buddy noticed some embargoed gear at his sporting items retailer. The Los Angeles Rams adopted by way of on their promise to rebrand alongside their scheduled transfer into $5 billion SoFi Stadium this fall, and likewise — in one other trendy custom — wanted to clarify each element about what they selected.

Happy birthday, Flying Elvis: A run through Patriots logo history
The curvature of the “iconic” horn, the location went on to clarify, relies on the “golden ratio (aka Fibonacci Sequence),” which was “the driving concept behind the new logos.” —RamsNewLook.com

The openness is one thing that the Los Angeles Chargers didn’t get to in 2017, after they floated a Dodgers-like interlocking “LA” on the time of their transfer from San Diego earlier than racing from it amid its open mockery. Their absolutely up to date palette got here this week, leaning into their famed powder blue and drawing “inspiration from the surf, skate and car cultures” of the 1960s from whence they got here.

It’s that point of 12 months within the NFL: New properties without spending a dime brokers, new appears for the groups chasing them. (Has it actually been only a 12 months because the Jets launched us to Gotham Green, Spotlight White, and Stealth Black?) Few years, nonetheless, are as energetic as this one, with 5 different groups prepared to hitch L.A. with both uniform modifications or minor tweaks. That contains the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who’ll unveil what Tom Brady might be sporting this season in April, and the Patriots, who’ve some “subtle changes to their uniform” coming quickly.

Subtlety was not the order of the day this week in 1993, nonetheless. That was when the Patriots shelved Pat Patriot for the Flying Elvis, to a response comparatively much like the social media invective of at this time. In a Boston Globe cellphone ballot, 71 % of practically 7,300 respondents disapproved.

“It doesn’t look mean enough,” stated one. “Looks like an ad for the Old Man in the Mountain,” stated one other.

“This is another embarrassing moment in Patriots history,” added a 3rd. “Get rid of it.”

They didn’t, and 20 years of all however unprecedented success with it on the perimeters of their helmets probably means they by no means will.

Where it started

Pro soccer had a number of false begins in Boston, from the Boston Bulldogs of 1929 to the Boston Braves/Redskins of the 1930s (they jumped to Washington, D.C., in 1937 and promptly gained the NFL title) to the Boston Yanks of the 1940s. When Billy Sullivan’s syndicate of 10 house owners acquired the eighth and ultimate franchise of the enlargement American Football League in late November 1959, the quick concern was the place it will play. Sullivan had been the spokesman for a 60,000-seat multipurpose stadium proposal in Norwood that sought to host each soccer and the Red Sox; his hope was, after a pair seasons, the group’s success would assist make it a actuality.

Things change, in fact. After initially asserting he’d turned down a proposal to be each the group’s president and normal supervisor — “I’ll just be a stockholder,” he stated, “I have a job now” — he and his household ended up the face of the franchise into the 1990s. So it was Sullivan, on Feb. 16, 1960, connected to the announcement the franchise can be often known as the Boston Patriots. Seventy-four individuals steered the title, it was reported, with it beating out the likes of Colonials, Pilgrims, Puritans, Braves, Beantowners, Hubs, and Bees. (It ought to be famous the Boston Daily Record, maybe amongst others, referred to the group unofficially because the Patriots nearly from the beginning.)

Deep within the subsequent morning’s Globe, the paper’s sports activities cartoonist Phil Bissell celebrated the announcement with a drawing, he instructed SportsLogos.internet in 2016, he whipped collectively in about 45 minutes.

“I thought about it for about two minutes,” Bissell stated. “I had to get the day’s work out.”

Happy birthday, Flying Elvis: A run through Patriots logo history
Phil Bissell’s Pat Patriot cartoon, from the Feb. 17, 1960, version of the Globe. —Boston Globe Archives

Though Pat wasn’t the group’s authentic brand — the tri-cornered hat on their 1960 helmets was in Bissell’s drawing, however is credited to Walter Pingree, a fan from Somerville — Sullivan liked it, having acquired Bissell’s authentic drawing from Globe sports activities editor Jerry Nason. Perhaps extra importantly, Sullivan’s youngest son, future Patriots GM Patrick Sullivan, deemed it his favourite out of all potential brand and branding options. It all led to Bissell being employed to attract the group’s well-known gameday program covers, and Pat Patriot to be put in on the group’s helmets starting in 1961.

Happy birthday, Flying Elvis: A run through Patriots logo history
The Patriots’ Chuck Shonta tackles San Diego Chargers operating again Bo Roberson in a 1961 recreation. —Tales from the AFL

Name modifications, however the brand stays (barely)

Pat Patriot adopted the group on its nomadic journey round Boston, from Boston University’s Nickerson Field (1960–62), to Fenway Park (1963–68), Boston College’s Alumni Stadium (1969), Harvard Stadium (1970), and to what was initially often known as Schaefer Stadium — the brewer signing a $1.5 million, 15-year lease for the naming rights to the group’s privately funded Foxborough residence previous to its opening.

With that ultimate transfer additionally got here a reputation change. Well, technically, two: After a few month because the Bay State Patriots, which was met with derision from each followers and NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle, the franchise modified course and have become the New England Patriots, getting the blessing of the league on March 22, 1971. (Sullivan diplomatically defined after the second swap that “there were a lot of things … the owners throughout the league found unacceptable.”)

It wouldn’t be the final time that decade Patriots’ branding can be determined by odd means.

Happy birthday, Flying Elvis: A run through Patriots logo history
The brand the Patriots practically modified to for the 1980 season. —File

With the sports activities merchandise market beginning to increase, the intricacies and element of Pat Patriot had been turning into problematic. In small purposes, like a cap, issues like facial options — which did differ on Pat by way of the years — had been troublesome to make out. Thus, the Patriots approached NFL Properties to design them a brand new brand in 1976. While they instantly used one league fee in that interval, the oft-mocked SuperPatriot mascot who was dismissed not even three months into the 1978 season, the group pushed a brand turn into 1979.

News broke in July that the brand new decade would deliver a brand new look, “a more modern concept of the patriotic spirit … sort of 1776 dressed up in 1980 design,” wrote Michael Madden within the Globe. Response, even earlier than the group unveiled the Elvis-like flag mark in September, was swift: Bissell instructed columnist Ray Fitzgerald he was “prostrate with grief and barely able to function.” Sullivan stated he acquired 100 letters of protest, many occasions greater than he’d gotten about any soccer strikes.

“I’m a traditionalist. A lot of guys have fought under that little guy,” stated franchise icon Gino Cappelletti, at that time a Patriots coach and but to start his 28-year radio pairing with Gil Santos, to the Herald American. “There are a lot of memories attached to him and I’d like to see him stay.”

The doubters additionally included Billy Sullivan himself, in the end pitted towards NFL Properties and his personal advertising group.

“I think [he] got cold feet on the whole concept,” stated Brian Morry, government director of the Patriots Hall of Fame, to Patriots.com.

The final determination was punted to Patriots followers. On Sept. 23, 1979, the group painted every brand in an finish zone, and had its cheerleaders show each throughout halftime of New England’s recreation towards the Chargers. First, these in favor of the brand new design had been requested to cheer, a low roar registering on the displayed decibel meter. Then, a name for these in favor of Pat.

“It wasn’t even necessary to count the votes,” reported the Globe.

Pat Patriot remained in place for one more 13 seasons, by way of the tip of the Sullivan possession in 1988, by way of Victor Kiam’s turbulent 4 years in cost, and into James Orthwein’s brief, however memorable tenure.

A brand new period

Orthwein is greatest remembered for making an attempt and failing to relocate the Patriots to his native St. Louis, however he made two modifications with lasting affect: Hiring Bill Parcells, and putting in the emblem at this time immortalized in numerous tattoos and, most notably, on six Super Bowl banners. An promoting government and longtime board member at Anheuser Busch, Orthwein didn’t a lot fear about making waves as he took over the NFL’s worst franchise, which he promised from the beginning he deliberate to shortly flip after he stabilized the enterprise.

After going 2-14 in 1992, New England’s fourth straight shedding season and sixth straight lacking the playoffs, January 1993 introduced a flurry of exercise. Coach Dick MacPherson was fired, information leaked that Orthwein was in search of bids to promote the group for the $110 million he’d put into it, and Parcells left his job at NBC to show the Patriots into an on-field winner. Though unknown on the time, his introductory presser was largely the final gasp of Pat Patriot.

Per week later, the primary story broke that “the team had started talks with NFL Properties about changing its logo.” Not even two months later, it was executed, accredited by the NFL within the second week of March and leaked by the Globe to the world on March 26.

Happy birthday, Flying Elvis: A run through Patriots logo history
The new Patriots brand, because the Globe broke it to New England on its sports activities entrance. —Boston Globe Archives

“I am extremely pleased,” Orthwein stated. “Merchandising is no longer just a local situation. Many professional sports teams today are marketing themselves to the nation and the world. It is no accident that teams such as the Chicago Bulls, the San Jose Sharks, and the Orlando Magic are attracting fan interest and selling merchandise across the country because of their appealing logos and color schemes.”

The Elvis feedback got here shortly, as did references to the Old Man of the Mountain and Darth Vader. When the group unveiled its uniforms and the script Patriots wordmark the next week, with fashionable silver helmets and primarily blue jerseys, Orthwein famous that “we wanted to be historically accurate. The British Army wore red, not the Patriots.”

Even Bissell gave it tepid approval, telling the Globe, “It’s nice, but it would be better for a different team.”

Happy birthday, Flying Elvis: A run through Patriots logo history
Andre Tippett and Pat Harlow mannequin the brand new Patriots gear at Boston’s Four Seasons Hotel on March 31, 1993. —Associated Press

Within a 12 months, Robert Kraft purchased Orthwein’s group, and the Patriots of the years since could as effectively be a unique franchise, although their look has remained largely constant within the years since. Italicized jerseys numbers and large logos on the shoulders got here in after the 1995 preseason, and caught round the remainder of the last decade.

As Bill Belichick got here in for the 2000 season, so too did the look we all know at this time: The blue darkened to navy, the shoulder logos changed by a “lightning bolt” of coloration. Though Elvis stays polarizing, the one vital change since was a brand new wordmark in 2013.

What’s subsequent? Likely not a lot, although just a little extra pink — which reappeared as a major jersey coloration on Thanksgiving 2002 — can be good. In an enormous upheaval offseason for the franchise, there’s one thing to be stated each for preserving issues the identical and for embracing the second to shake it up.

Maybe that’s the true lesson right here. When it involves brand modifications, the one certain wager is there’ll be no absence of individuals with one thing to say.