- GEN - What's in a logo? Plenty

Wednesday, January 17, 2001
What's in a logo? Plenty

First, Terrell Owens caused an uproar by trampling on the Dallas Cowboys' star in the middle of Texas Stadium. Then, a controversy erupted over Colorado football coach Gary Barnett telling his players they're not worthy of wearing the Buffaloes' logo and threatening to leave their helmets in the buff.

All this talk about team logos got us wondering: Are these insignias really that sacred? And what are the best and worst logos in major professional sports?

Here's's two cents:

The traditional

New York Yankees
Perhaps the most recognizable logo in all of sports, the interlocking "NY" insignia made its debut on the uniforms of the New York Highlanders in 1909. The design actually was created in 1877 by Louis B. Tiffany for a medal to be given to the New York Police Department. Of course, it's more commonly associated with every Yankee from Ruth to DiMaggio to Mantle to Jackson to Jeter.

Montreal Canadiens
You know the logo well, so let's explain the "H" in the middle. One legend says that "H" stands for "Habs" instead of "Hockey" -- as in Club de Hockey Canadien. In 1924, Madison Square Garden owner Tex Rickard was incorrectly told by someone that the "H" stood for "habitant," a French word that in those days denoted the farmers of Quebec. The nickname has stuck since.

Boston Celtics
There's no disputing the "luck" the Celtics have had since adopting their name and logo in 1946. As Boston won an NBA-record 16 titles, the logo of that smug Irishman has become as synonymous with success as Red Auerbach's victory cigar. It's hard to believe the franchise considered such dreadful nicknames as Whirlwinds, Olympics and Unicorns.

Dallas Cowboys
No wonder Terrell Owens used this logo as his stage to make a statement. It might be the simplest logo in all of sports, but it's also one of the best. The Cowboys haven't changed it much since 1960. Nor should they.

Pittsburgh Steelers
In 1963, Pittsburgh went to its "Steelmark" logo -- the same trademark used by the American Iron and Steel Institute. It wasn't until the 1970s that this logo became synonymous with Super Bowl-winning teams.

Chicago Bulls
Maybe our view is skewed because Michael Jordan made it look so good. Either way, the Bulls logo is a definite winner.

Back to the future

New York Jets
Perhaps it was Bill Parcells' attempt to disassociate his team from the Rich Kotite Era. For whatever reason, in 1998, the Jets went back to the same logo and uniforms that Joe Namath made popular in the '60s. Success followed, too, but not that elusive return to the Super Bowl.

New York Giants
Following the Jets' lead, the Giants took the entire New York football scene back in time when they returned to their original uniforms and logo this season. The team is wearing the "ny" helmet that it wore from 1961-74, and even those cool gray pants are back.

Cleveland Browns
What the Browns might lack in creativity, they make up in staying power. This one survived the move of the original franchise to Baltimore and was reborn when Cleveland regained its team last season. From Jim Brown to Tim Couch, the logo -- or lack thereof -- remains the same.

Change for the better

Denver Broncos
Say what you will about the uniforms -- and yes, there are some serious issues with those stripes on the pants and jersey. But the new Broncos logo is a beauty, and they won the Super Bowl the first two seasons they had it.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Anything would be better than those dreadful orange uniforms and the snarling Buccaneer that represented one thing: losing.

   White Sox
Chicago White Sox
After changing the logo and uniforms on seemingly a daily basis (including those dreadful collars and shorts), the Sox finally settled on this logo in the early 1990s, and it was an immediate big seller.

Seattle Mariners
It's not really that this logo is so great, it's just that what the M's were trying before was so bad. As a general rule, any logo involving a pitchfork is bad.

Utah Jazz
What the Jazz really need is a name change -- there's no real jazz in Salt Lake City. On the other hand, at least the team's new logo emphasizes some things that Utah actually has: beautiful mountains.

Change for the worse
Houston Rockets
Forget the pajama-like uniforms and what they did to the floor at the Compaq Center. We just want to know what's up with the snarling shark on the rocket?

Golden State Warriors
Was there some bad action movie that we missed? Or did they think this thing up all on their own?

Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks have a "storied" history of awful logos and uniforms. But this one is especially bad because the whale is based more on the team's parent company (Orca Bay) than on the team's nickname.

Detroit Pistons
What is this? A logo for horse racing? Or chess? Or drag racing? Certainly, the answer is not basketball.

The cartoon network
Charlotte Hornets
At first, we thought this was just an "expansion thing." But the Hornets have been around since 1988, and their logo still looks like something off a tuna can.

Toronto Raptors
Is Vince Carter so hip that he can sell stuff featuring this dorky dinosaur? Only time will tell.

Phoenix Coyotes
Evidently, Wile E. Coyote was out chasing the Road Runner and unavailable to pose for this logo.

The controversial

Cleveland Indians
We don't care how long Chief Wahoo has been around. Even the most traditional fan should be able to see why this one is offensive.

Washington Redskins
Daniel Snyder grew up rooting for the 'Skins and has grown attached to this logo. But who knows, he might change it for the right price.

Atlanta Braves
This logo certainly is not as offensive as the "Tomahawk Chop," but it's still stuck in the stone ages.

Garber: What's your sign?

Owens back with 49ers, admits making 'mistakes'