The Super Bowl’s Super Art

Here is another installment from Alex. As we count down the Super Bowl XLVI, we’ll talk a bit about the biggest game in America. Starting with this on Super Bowl logos and program design.

The NFL now only uses this standard logo for the Super Bowl with just the stadium on the bottom of the Lombardi trophy changing.

One of the overwhelming problems in our society (among many many others) is the complete and total absence of creativity. Reading Walter Issacson’s definitive biography about Steve Jobs, I get the sense that Jobs (like him or hate him) was an innovator, an individualist, and overall the Thomas Edison of our time. But what if he had been average, making generic, rather than cutting edge, technology? In other words, what if he followed the lead of the NFL with respect to its Super Bowl logo?

 

One of my earliest memories of the Super Bowl was the ticket/program cover art and logo for each Super Bowl.  More so than the logos, the ticket/program cover art was unique to the specific Super Bowl, and many times, unique to the host city.

 

Last year, before Super Bowl XLV, the NFL announced that it was formalizing the Super Bowl logo. After sampling what I’m sure were thousands of designs, the NFL went with the least imaginative. No color, no design, no thanks. The program cover art, starting with XLII follows a similar pattern. So, we’ll do what we always do on this website: look back to the past, but this time, at the best Super Bowl logos and cover art.

 

While the way I evaluate logos is completely subjective, my criteria for the cover art is more specific: I look at the imagination of the design, as well as how it incorporates the Vince Lombardi trophy with the host city. First the logos:

  1. XXXIII – Love the how the logo is a marquee.  You get a real vintage Miami vibe.
  2. XXXVII – A crummy game but I am a sucker for the lighthouse.
  3. XXXIX – Jacksonville was a terrible host city, but working their famous bridge into the logo was cool.
  4. XXXVI – An excellent tribe to America just four months after the 9-11 attacks.
  5. XXVII – Perfectly understated featuring the three roses.

Honorable Mention: XXVIII – Love the blue ribbon wrapped around the peach

Now cover art:

  1. XXIX – A perfect blend of old Miami, featuring a Model T in front of a hotel, tropical colors, and the Vince Lombardi Trophy towering among palm trees.
  2. XXXV – Even though my team was on the losing end of a blowout, I love the nautical theme. In addition to the Florida-host-city-standard of the Vince Lombardi trophy among palm trees, the sailboats and cloudy sky against the Tampa backdrop is nothing short of picturesque.
  3.  XXVII – I love this cover for a number of reasons. First, Pasadena is my favorite host city (a complete lack of luxury boxes at the Rose Bowl ensures the Super Bowl will never return) and the colors are outstanding. The sky features four colors: midnight blue, pink, orange and yellow, perfectly symbolic of the setting California sun. These colors, along with the blimp and fireworks, capture the excited and anticipation of the Super Bowl.
  4. XVII – Pasadena again. I also like the similarities between this and XXIX.  XVII features again features a marquee and the uniqueness of the colors gives the Vince Lombardi trophy a blue color.
  5. XVIII – What can I say? I’m a sucker for animals.

Honorable Mention: XXV – This is very similar to VI. It features the helmets of all the past Super Bowl winners, and a ton of vintage memorabilia for the silver anniversary Super Bowl. A nice tribute to Pete Rozelle, and the American flag is a subtle reminder of the nation’s involvement in the first Gulf War.

 

Will we ever see these designs again? Not unless the NFL has a stroke of nostalgia.

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BCS of uniforms: Big 12

Oklahoma State's Richetti Jones and the rest of Oklahoma State went with this look for their biggest victory of the season over Oklahoma. Photo by Getty Images

As we approach New Year’s Day, we’ll start to move deeper into this BCS of uniforms. Today, the Big 12:

1. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys made a huge splash this season by wearing a different uniform combination for every game. Turns out it worked for them as they won their first Big 12 title and are headed to the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 2.

I always preferred the normal white helmet with orange uniform, but at least the Cowboys showed  a great effort this season for uniforms, and it’s hard to argue with the success they had in them. The best part about the changes was they did not abandon the primary OSU logo or introduced new colors into the scheme.

2. Baylor

Maybe it’s because the Bears got a little more exposure this season with Robert Griffin III, but I just began to notice how good the primary Baylor uniform looks.

The combination of the gold pants and helmets with the green uniforms is very clean and neat. Nike even introduced a new uniform line for the Bears before the season. The Alamo Bowl uniforms were a bust, but I can forgive them.

3. Texas A&M

The Aggies don’t try to get too flashy with their uniforms, and that works for them. Maybe it’s because my elementary school wore maroon, but I find the combination of maroon and white to be very cool.

The logo works because of the big T that is complemented by the A and M around it. My favorite is when the Aggies host Texas and wear all maroon.

4. Texas

These are classic college football uniforms.

Anytime you see burnt orange, you immediately think Texas and that shows the uniform has done its primary job of identifying a team. The orange is complemented nicely by the white helmets, and the road all-white look is a solid one.

5. Oklahoma

Again, these are classic uniforms. If there was ever a change with the Sooners’ uniforms, I’m sure there would be a riot throughout all of Norman.

There’s really not much to the uniforms, but since they have been around so long and are iconic in college football, they get a decent ranking here.

Jeff Woody and the rest of the Cyclones had a tough time getting going against Rutgers in the Pinstripe Bowl. Photo by Getty Images

6. Iowa State

Recently, the Cyclones have gone to a retro look that certainly works for them. The combination of red with yellow pants is a nice look and the stripes along the shoulder are nifty, but it’s still a somewhat boring look.

If the helmets could improve here, perhaps they would move up in the rankings.

7. Missouri

The Tigers have a decent uniform, but there is simply too much going on with all the trimming in the uniform. Plus, the helmets are pretty boring.

8. Texas Tech

Again, there’s too much going on here, even more than Missouri. The lines that go up the shoulders are unnecessary, it’s far too distracting for a football uniform.

9. Kansas State

There’s not enough going on here. The purple with the silver is very boring. The part about this uniform that gets me the most is the logo which has been around forever, but could definitely use some work.

10. Kansas

Yawn! Could that helmet get any more boring? The Jayhawks aren’t even trying to do anything smart with the KU. They’re just written on the helmets. Much more effort is needed here.

Logo Nostalgia

Here is another contribution from Alex on his fondness for logos from the past.

Soccer greats like Pele made the New York Cosmos one of the most popular NY teams in their time.

A few weeks ago, I received a call from a friend in Oklahoma.  While visiting relatives in Michigan, he came across this pennant at a garage sale.  For $5, he said, it could be all mine. I told him to jump on it, and a few days later, it was at my doorstep.  I have always an affinity for pennants from defunct teams and in addition to the Indianapolis Racers, I own pennants from the defunct Toronto Toros of the World Hockey Association and the New York Cosmos of the North American Soccer League.

The significance of the Indianapolis Racers  begins in 1978, as they became the first professional hockey team to sign and up-and-coming young star named Wayne Gretzky. Although the Racers were not one of the four teams absorbed from the WHA into the NHL when the league folded, their logo is a favorite of mine. After purchasing the pennant, I began to think about the WHA and the NASL, two seemingly forgotten leagues, and about how, even if they were not financially sustainable, produced some of the best and worst logos in pro sports.  Below, I highlight some of the best logos from these leagues of yesteryear. It may be pointless nostalgia, but since when is that ever a bad thing?

The  World Hockey Association (born 1972, died 1979) featured some confusing team names/logos, including the Miami Screaming Eagles (why “eagles” in Miami and why are they “screaming”?), the Minnesota Fighting Saints (since when are saints violent people?) and the New York Golden Blades  and New York Raiders (the former looks like it could serve as a logo for a low budget figure skating event, while the latter features neither a raider, nor the cityscape of New York).  Other logos were just flat out lame. They include the Michigan Stags (why does the deer only have three legs?), the New England Whalers (note the smiling whale and the addition of “ers” next to it), and the Baltimore Blades (a deformed hockey stick forming the shape of a “B”).

Some pluses from the WHA: The aforementioned Indianapolis Racers (I like how they incorporate the city’s racing tradition in the logo, and not just the name), the aforementioned Toronto Toros/Birmingham Bulls (Check out that bull. He’s tough, fierce, and I love the added detail of the smokey snort), the Quebec Nordiques (having visited Quebec City, I can honestly say they deserve their team back.  A team needs to relocate there immediately), and the Winnipeg Jets (see this previous article on how the current Jets spit on their own tradition). With the overall lack of popularity for hockey, it is no surprise a competing league to the NHL never survived.

The Indianapolis Racers were the first professional team to sign Wayne Gretzky.

Speaking of sports that lack popularity, let’s turn our attention to soccer and the NASL (born 1967, died 1984).  First the gassers: the Atlanta Apollos (for obvious reasons), the Cleveland Stokers (for obvious reasons), the Hartford Bicentennials (ripped straight from the nearest men’s bathroom room door) and the Montreal Manic (not necessarily bad, just boring).  Then there are those teams who didn’t even attempt to create a logo. The wall of shame includes the Denver/Washington Darts (two cites, same crummy logo), the Seattle Sounders and Team Hawaii (who ripped off who?).

However, it wasn’t all bad in the NASL. The Cosmos (an iconic team with an equally identifiable logo) and the Vancouver Whitecaps were  beacons of light.  Speaking of beacons, the Boston Beacons was pretty creative, especially after it followed this previous Boston soccer logo.

While these leagues no longer give us the thrills and chills associated with their respective sports, there are certain logos from the NASL and WHA that can live on in our collective memories.  Or in my case, in the form of old pennants in my apartment.