The U.S. National Football League is a professional American football league with 32 teams equally split between the National Football Conference and the American Football Conference. It was formally established in 1920 and became the first successful sports association to unite America’s professional soccer teams into a single structure, holding competitions between them every season.
Meaning and history
The NFL logo, also known as the NFL shield, is the official logo of the National Football League. The NFL shield has become iconic since almost the league’s founding: with the NFL lettering, stripes and stars characteristic of the American flag, this logo well reflected the sporting spirit of the era. The shape of the shield, which has not changed throughout the history of the logo, represents the league’s commitment to the highest standards of sports competition. Today, the NFL shield is one of the most recognizable in the world: it is steadfastly associated not only with American football, but also with the identity of the United States.
1921 – 1940
The very idea behind the design for the NFL logo dates back to 1921, when the American Professional Football Association changed its name to the current NFL. In 1921, the first league logo was introduced, today considered a “draft”. The logo is a shield divided into two parts. At the top, against a blue background, were the gold letters NFL, written in a simple sans-serif typeface. The lower part of the shield consisted of bright red stripes on a white background with a marble texture. To give the logo a three-dimensional effect, a shadow was applied to the bottom of the shield.
1940 – 1953
By 1940, the rebranding process was finally completed and the League introduced its updated logo. Now at the top of the blue are not letters, but white stars and a pink soccer ball with red stitches. The pink and white stripes at the bottom contain the letters NFL in bright red, written in a slicker serif font than the previous one.
According to the creators, the logo deliberately used red, white and blue colors, as well as stars to give the symbol a similarity to the US flag.
1953 – 1958
During this period, a major update of the logo took place. The stars at the top of the shield, which were randomly placed, are now lined up, and the ball is painted brown with white stitches to give it a realistic look. The color of the stripes at the bottom of the shield changed from pink to dark red; the color of the letters has also become darker. Visually, the shield has also lengthened, the red outline bordering the white lower part of the logo has disappeared.
1959 – 1961
The second major logo update occurred in the early 60s. The color of the top of the shield and its outline remained dark blue, but the red stripes at the bottom of the shield became much thinner. The 22 stars at the top of the backboard are white, like a soccer ball, the only colored element of which is the red seam line. A more refined font was chosen for the letters in red. This major update provided the basis for future logo variations, which eventually led to the most modern version in use since 2008.
1962 – 1983
During this period, several improvements were made. The number of stars visible at the top of the shield has increased from 22 to 23. The football sword’s seam has changed from red to blue. The biggest change was the removal of the red stripes behind the NFL letters.
1983 – 2007
The 1983 version is very similar to the previous logo, but only at first glance. A closer look shows that the outer border of the shield has become thicker. The position of the soccer sword at the top has changed.
2007 – today
At the start of the 2008 football season, the NFL introduced a new version of the logo that updated all components. The number of stars has decreased significantly; there are eight of them, one for each of the football divisions. Prior to that, it was believed that the numerous stars on the early versions of the logo did not have any meaning and only gave the logo a resemblance to the US state flag. The soccer ball has also changed its position, and its shape has also been updated. The font has also been updated to a straight serif typeface: in particular, the letter “L” has lost its curvature. The color of the letters changed from dark red to a lighter shade.
Color and font
In 2007, the NFL logo successfully used the colors of the American flag – red, white and blue. The shield symbol itself is blue, and the NFL lettering is red on a white background. The little white stars as well as the ball go well with the blue at the bottom of the shield.
The NFL logo uses a special serif typeface similar to the famous “College” typeface.