When it comes to uniforms in sports, the powers that be tend to overthink things on occasion. Every now and again, they come up with a change that is well-received, but more often than not, it seems, all they’ve done is spent time trying to invent a crappier wheel or some machine that un-slices bread.
The fact of the matter is, people tend to respond poorly to change. Think of the outrage that pollutes your Facebook and Twitter feeds every time the platform is tweaked slightly, even if it’s for the better. Sports fans, in particular, aren’t known to embrace change in any form—even uniforms.
And it really doesn’t help matters that teams changing logos is nothing more than a shameless money grab, with the new logo being designed to part fans with their hard-earned money for new gear. Often enough, the changes prove unpopular enough to justify another change or reversion back to the original.
So if a logo ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Golden State Warriors
Although they didn’t land officially on the Golden State Warriors as a name until 1971, the team has been in the Bay Area since 1962, where they started out as the San Francisco Warriors. With the name, naturally, came a logo that involved some sort of American Indian headdress.
They were clearly ahead of their time, scrapping the logo in favor of “The City” logo in 1969. It only lasted one season, unfortunately, but there are a lot of similarities between that and the Warriors' current logo, which they adopted in 2010.
The Warriors took a winning design and mucked it up the following season, nixing the Golden Gate Bridge in favor of a big, yellow circle, with the state of California on one side (and San Francisco’s place on the map noted with an oversized star) and the No. 14 on the other. On top it said “Golden State” and at the bottom “Warriors.”
Overall, it was just too much stuff to put on a logo. In 1975, they added some more messiness to the design by changing the plain, yellow circle into a basketball, but at least they eliminated the 14. In 1988, they changed the color and font on the logo for no reason whatsoever. But it was in 1997 when things really got out of control.
From 1997 through 2010, the Warriors adopted a completely different logo that in no way resembled anything they’d used in the decades prior. Given the stupidity of the thing, words can scarcely do it justice—just see for yourself. Thankfully they're back on track these days.
From 1970 through 1996, the Sabres used the same classic logo, the only tweaking done to the background colors on alternate jerseys. The design itself was perfectly representative of both the city and team name, with a buffalo situated between two crossing sabres.
The image sat affront a background that consisted of a navy blue circle, outlined in gold, which matched the handles on the sabres themselves. The charging buffalo rocking a demonic red eye, so you know he meant business.
Even if the team didn’t always follow suit.
Then, of course, the '90s came, and Buffalo followed the terrible example set by so many other NHL teams of the decade, opting for a complete overhaul of its 25-year-old logo. And it turned out to be one of the worst ones in the league.
From 1996 through 2006, the Sabres went with two variations of an angry, disembodied buffalo head, which was surprisingly not intimidating. From 2006-10, they switched it up to a weird artistic version of another disembodied buffalo head.
Again following suit with much of the NHL, in 2010 the Sabres finally went back to their roots, adopting a logo that is essentially the exact same as their original—the only difference being the navy blue background, as opposed to the brighter blue of yesteryear.
From 1903 through 1926, the Tigers went through 11 different font changes on their logo, which remained the letter “D” throughout. And after they switched from black to navy blue in 1905, they never looked back.
Detroit’s logo was simple and understated from the very beginning, even though the font may have gotten a little elaborate after a while. Still though, if your logo is just a letter, the font can be a little showy.
Old school Tigers logo just watched the 8th inning. pic.twitter.com/tLiCGLR1Hb— Bob Dively (@bobdively) October 3, 2014
It wasn’t until 1927 that the Tigers veered straight off the road into the gutter, when they decided to replace their original logo with the absolute worst rendition of a sketched cartoon tiger that has ever been in professional sports. With its vacant white eyes and what look to be stink lines, as opposed to stripes, Detroit really did themselves a disservice with that one.
The next redesign came in 1929, with another six more to come by the early '60s. The first four were throwbacks, but from 1957-2005, Detroit’s logo had some horrifying version of a tiger in it—either as the primary logo or slinking around the primary logo. This cracked-out version from 1957 is even scarier than the very first tiger, only because it’s distinguishable as such.
Thankfully for Tigers fans, Detroit went back to the classic and dignified “D” in 2006, and hopefully it’ll never look back.
When the Penguins entered the league in 1967, they wore a version of the powder blue throwback jerseys they bust out on occasion. The logo was adapted slightly the following season, but it wasn’t until 1972 that they got it just right, basically by eliminating the blue altogether. Pittsburgh is the only city in the U.S. whose three professional sports teams all have the same colors—black and gold.
Among the many victims of the weird '90s desperate drive to redesign, Pittsburgh really ran wild with corporate inspiration, slimming down the ice skating penguin to nothing more than a tri-colored triangle with a beak, which it stuck with (in some version) for nearly a decade after it debuted in 1992.
For a few years in the mid-'90s, Pittsburgh also had away jerseys that just said “Pittsburgh” diagonally across the front. They weren’t fan favorites, but Snoop Dogg made the jersey famous in 1994 when he wore it in the video for “Gin and Juice.”
New England Patriots
This one might be a little controversial, much like the Patriots themselves, but count me among those who liked their literal interpretation of their classic logo. From 1961-1992, New England’s logo was basically a cartoon version of Paul Revere about to snap a football.
Sure, it was kind of ridiculous, which is a welcomed reminder that sometimes people take sports way too seriously. Especially those folks up in Boston—don’t freak out, you know you do!
Maybe it’s a coincidence that the goofy patriot logo was replaced with an abstract rendition of a patriot dome with a star on its hat that made its first appearance in 1993 and was updated to the one used presently in 2000.
That was the year Bill Belichick arrived and the fun died forever. That being said, there’s no question that fans in New England would take the ridiculous amounts of success they’ve had since then over their old, goofy logo in a heartbeat.
But couldn’t they have both? Couldn’t we all have both? So at least when Tom Brady is running roughshod over our teams, we’d have a funny cartoon to look at, instead of a corporate logo with the soulless dead eyes of Belichick himself.
University of Alabama
Because of the tradition that comes along with many university athletic programs, there may be nowhere change is less desired or accepted than at the collegiate level. From 1952-58, Alabama’s logo looked like an abused circus elephant named “Droopy.”
After dropping that, Alabama brought back a much better version of the elephant in 1974, which added a “Crimson Tide” banner under the large A, which masked much of the elephant. Overall, it was a very good change and a substantially better effort than the first time around.
Anything to hide the elephant is good, because the less times “what does an elephant have to do with a Crimson Tide?” is asked, the better.
Despite the solid second effort, Alabama wasn’t willing to leave well enough alone, opting to change the logo again in 2001. This time an aggressive looking elephant was the star of the show, with “Crimson Tide” barely visible at the bottom of the new design.
Obviously the new elephant-heavy logo wasn’t well-received in Tuscaloosa, because it was shelved after the 2003 season. Alabama’s newest incarnation is probably its best yet, but those two years with the angry elephant were just bad. Like…"What the hell were they thinking?" bad.
For over 30 years, the 76ers kept it classic and simple with their various logos. Everything was red, white and blue, and varied between the “76” inside the basketball logo and the “Sixers” uniforms they adopted in the late '70s.
They were very America-centric, without being tacky, which isn’t easy to pull off (clothing-wise).
Though many of us look back on the '90s with rose-tinted glasses, the best kind for anything nostalgia-related, that beloved decade was actually plagued with horrible logo redesigns in American sports—particularly in the NHL and NBA. The Sixers were not immune to the plague and really uglied up their uniforms with ornamental stars and swooshes.
They’ve mostly returned to understated styles of yesteryear, except for the basketball-playing Ben Franklin they introduced for the 2014-15 season—not their finest moment.
The Capitals' original red, white and blue logo with the team name and the hockey stick suited the city and our nation’s capital just perfectly. Their uniforms remained unchanged for two full decades—from when the Caps entered the league in 1974 until a flurry of terrible changes began in 1995.
Who knows what inspired the Capitals in 1995 to change from their classic logo to an off-colored eagle swooping down aggressively at nothing, but that’s exactly what they did. Two seasons later, they dropped the “Capitals” from under the eagle, but it was still bad.
From 2002-07, the logo was once again changed, this time to some hockey-inspired version of the Capitol building, with two hockey sticks, a puck and two gold stars. And again, everything was in gold and turquoise. Eventually they wised up in Washington and have been sporting something a lot closer to their original logo since 2007.
University of Pittsburgh
The University of Pittsburgh has actually gone well over a dozen different logos, secondary logos and alternate logos dating back to 1947.
The only iteration that seemed to resonate with fans was the cursive “Pitt,” which was on the Panthers' football helmets and fan gear from 1973-1996, before finally be resurrected again last season, though more toned down in color than the original.
For some reason, the powers that be within the university’s athletic department decided that “Pitt” alone was unseemly and tried their best to put “Pittsburgh” or “Panthers” or “Pittsburgh Panthers” on everything.
The colors were changed from a bright yellow-gold and blue to a much more understated navy blue and gold. Though some of the changes have been rolled back, Pitt remains a mishmash of logo combinations.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have been a model of consistency on the court over the last 15-plus years in the NBA, having established themselves among the preeminent franchises in the league with the five championships they’ve won since 1999.
Through most of their history, San Antonio’s logo was refreshingly subdued, with nothing but an actual spur in the “U” to distinguish itself on the simplistic black and grey lettering. It remained in its original form from 1976-1989.
Prior to the 1989-90 season, San Antonio made one of the more ill-advised redesign decisions on this list. Perhaps inspired by the DayGlo colors that permeated the previous decade, the Spurs added bright splashes of turquoise, pink and orange behind their original logo, changing the “San Antonio” letters from black to white.
Not only did many of their uniforms and team gear showcase the obnoxious change, San Antonio’s court reflected it as well—which takes going “in the paint” to a whole new level. Finally, someone down there in the Lone Star State wised up after more than a decade, finally changing the logo back to something closely resembling the original in 2002.
New York Islanders
The Islanders' classic logo was originally in use from 1972-1995, including during their four-straight Stanley Cup victories in the early '80s. It wasn’t the most creative look out there, but there’s something to be said for understated simplicity.
The Islanders went with a complete redesign in 1995, changing the team colors, jersey font and replacing the original logo with the Gorton’s Fish Sticks fisherman, presumably avoiding a lawsuit by putting a hockey stick in the guy’s hand.
From 1915 through 1927, the Cleveland Indians had two slightly different logos. Both were a navy blue “C,” but each with a different font and embellishments. These days, naming sports names after Native Americans, or people in general, has become a hot-button issue.
Though, the Indians would’ve done a lot better just sticking with their very first logo, because they only got worse for 90 years.
Starting in 1928, Cleveland decided to go with an actual Indian figure as its mascot. The first four it came up with weren’t great, but they weren’t outwardly offensive like the grinning goofball it adopted in 1946 and kept in some form through 2013.
Perhaps sensing the tide turning against them, particularly with the problems facing the NFL team in Washington, the Indians went the right direction by changing the logo back to a simple “C” in 2014. Their new logo looks almost exactly like the original from 1915, but in red instead of navy blue.