October 14, 2012

NFL, AFC North – Map, with short league-history side-bar & titles list (up to 2012 season) / Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers).

Filed under: NFL>AFC North,NFL, divisions,NFL/ Gridiron Football — admin @ 7:03 pm

NFL, AFC North – Map
Helmet iilustrations above from

    Logo and helmet history of the 4 teams (Ravens, Bengals, Browns, Steelers).

    Baltimore Ravens logo & helmet history (1996-2012) – click on image below
Baltimore Ravens logo & helmet history (1996-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database.

The first NFL team in Baltimore was the green-and-silver original Baltimore Colts (I) (AAFC, 1947-49 / NFL, 1950 / defunct). The under-capitalized Colts of 1950 went 1-11 in their only NFL season and folded. Here are the uniforms of the 1950 NFL Baltimore Colts [I] ( Teams)

The second NFL team in Baltimore was the blue-and-white Baltimore Colts (II) (NFL, 1953-83). The Baltimore Colts were a very solid team in the NFL for a 15-year span when they won NFL titles in 1958 and 1959 (led by QB Johnny Unitas), then, for the 1970 NFL season, the Colts were at the top of the football world in January 1971 when they won Super Bowl V (#5) over the Dallas Cowboys with a last-minute FG by kicker Jim O’Brien. Then the Baltimore Colts entered a protracted period of eventual decline before their owner, Robert Irsay, snuck his franchise out of town at 3 in the morning one cold March day in 1984 and moved the team with a fleet of moving vans to Indianapolis, IN as the Indianapolis Colts (NFL, 1984-2012). Irsay was forced to do this because the Maryland legislature intended to seize the team! You see, the Colts’ venue, Memorial Stadium (which they shared with the MLB team the Baltimore Orioles), was in a crumbling state of disrepair, and Irsay was having a very hard time coming to a stadium agreement with Baltimore and with Maryland state officials. By this time (circa 1982-83) Indianapolis, Indiana was building a stadium – the Hoosier Dome – to attract an NFL team, and Irsay had visited the construction site in Indianapolis in February 1984. Here is what happened next, via an excerpt from the Wikipedia page entitled ‘Baltimore Colts relocation to Indianapolis‘…”Meanwhile in Baltimore, the situation worsened and the Maryland State Legislature inserted itself into the dispute — a move that would eventually force Irsay’s hand and result in the Colts’ final decision to depart. On March 27, 1984, the Maryland Senate passed legislation giving the city of Baltimore the right to seize ownership of the Colts by eminent domain. (An idea first floated in a memo written by Baltimore mayoral aide Mark Wasserman). Robert Irsay said that his move was “a direct result” of the eminent domain bill. Chernoff would say of the move by the Maryland legislature: “They not only threw down the gauntlet, but they put a gun to his head and cocked it and asked, ‘Want to see if it’s loaded?’ They forced him to make a decision that day.”…{end of excerpt}.

It took the city of Baltimore 13 years to get another NFL team, when they lured the Cleveland Browns (I). [ Cleveland Browns (I) (AAFC, 1946-49/ NFL, 1950-1995/ franchise dormant from 1996 to 1998/ Cleveland Browns (II) (NFL 1999-2012). ] The Baltimore Ravens (NFL, 1996-2012) came into being in 1996 when Art Modell, then-owner of the Browns, announced that he intended to relocate his franchise, the Cleveland Browns, to Baltimore. The huge controversy that resulted with this ended when representatives of the city of Cleveland and the NFL reached a settlement in February 1996. Then-Commissioner Paul Tagliabue promised the city of Cleveland that an NFL team would be located in Cleveland, either through relocation or expansion, no later than 1999. The agreement also stipulated that the Browns’ name, colors, uniform design and franchise records would remain in Cleveland. 5 seasons later, in 2000, with several ex-Cleveland Browns players still on their roster, the Baltimore Ravens under Head coach Brian Billick and led by LB Ray Lewis and the stingiest defense in NFL history (conceding only 10.3 points per game), won Super Bowl XXXV (#35) by beating the New York Giants 34-7.

Stadiums the Baltimore Ravens have played in -
For their first two seasons after their hasty and controversy-laden relocation from Cleveland, Ohio the newly-renamed-and-officially-called-an-expansion-team Baltimore Ravens began play (in 1996 and in 1997) at the 53,000-capacity Memorial Stadium in Baltimore, MD. Memorial Stadium was pretty outdated by then and would eventually see the wrecking ball in 2002. Memorial Stadium was also former home of the Baltimore Colts until they relocated in the dead of night to Indianapolis, Indiana in 1984. Memorial Stadium was also home of the MLB team the Baltimore Orioles, before the Orioles got their own ballpark, Camden Yards, in 1992. Memorial Stadium opened in 1922, but was much smaller until the 30,000-capacity second version of Memorial Stadium opened in 1950. 4 years later the city of Baltimore poached their first big-league-club, when in 1954, they lured the Major League Baseball team the St. Louis Browns to relocate and become the third incarnation of the Baltimore Orioles (III) (MLB, AL 1954-2012).

The second and current home of the Baltimore Ravens is M&T Bank Stadium, which was opened in 1998 and which has a capacity of 71,000 and was built and is operated by it’s owner, the Maryland Stadium Authority.

The Ravens are so-named in honor of Baltimore-resident Edgar Allan Poe, whose macabre poem “The Raven” is one of the many famous works the much-celebrated 19th century writer produced. The Ravens’ colors are black, purple, and yellow-gold. The Ravens’ first logo was an un-credited copy of a logo design submitted to the Maryland Sports Authority by a Maryland resident who then sued (and won his suit but was only awarded a settlement of $3). You can see that story and images associated with it in the Baltimore Ravens logo & helmet history by clicking on the image above.

Baltimore Ravens: 1 NFL Super Bowl title (2000).
The Baltimore Ravens are 1-0 in Super Bowl appearances, beating the Giants 34-7 in Super Bowl XXXV (#35) in the 2000 season.

    Cincinnati Bengals logo & helmet history (1968-2012) – click on image below

Cincinnati Bengals logo & helmet history (1968-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database.

From, ‘Bengals Logos – Then & Now‘ (

The Cincinnati Bengals’ NFL franchise came to be because of a confluence of two things. The Major League Baseball team the Cincinnati Reds were looking for a new stadium to replace their run-down Crosley Field at the same time that former Cleveland Browns Head coach and GM Paul Brown was seeking a new pro football franchise in Ohio. Paul Brown had been fired by Cleveland Browns’ owner Art Model in January 1963, and was initially trying to get an NFL franchise for either Columbus, OH or Cincinnati, OH. When the Cincinnati Reds reached an agreement with Hamilton County in Ohio to build a multi-purpose stadium, an ownership group fronted by Paul Brown was able to get an AFL franchise in 1967. If you are wondering why Brown got an AFL franchise rather than the NFL franchise he was seeking, it is because at that point in time (1967), it was known that the NFL would be merging with the AFL in 1970. Paul Brown got a jab back at the Browns’ owner by choosing as his new team’s helmet color the same color as the Browns’ helmet – orange. The Bengals have always played in orange-and-black, and since 1981 have featured a helmet and uniform-detailing that have a tiger-stripe design. The Bengals were established in 1968 in the AFL, and played in the last 2 AFL seasons before the 1970 merger. Paul Brown, as part-owner and Head coach, coached the Bengals for 8 seasons, making the playoffs in 1970, 1973, and 1975, but losing all 3 of those playoff games. Brown retired from coaching after the 1975 season, and maintained ownership of the Bengals until his death at the age of 82 in 1991. His son Mike Brown is majority owner of the Bengals today.

Stadiums the Cincinnati Bengals have played in -
1). Nippert Stadium [home of the University of Cincinnati Bearcats' football team], in 1968 and ’69. It had a capacity back then of 28,000.
2). Riverfront Stadium, the home of the Cincinnati Reds from 1970-2002 and the home of the Cincinnati Bengals from 1970 to 1999. Riverfront Stadium had a capacity of 59,000 for football.
3). Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals got their own purpose-built stadium in 2000. The Paul Brown Stadium has a capacity of 65,500 and is owned and operated by Hamilton County, Ohio.

The Bengals are 0-2 in Super Bowl appearances, losing to the San Francisco 49ers 26-21 in Super Bowl XV! (#16) in the 1981 season, and losing again to the San Francisco 49ers 20-16 in Super Bowl XXIII (#23) in the 1989 season.

    Cleveland Browns logo & helmet history (1946-1995/ 1999-2012) – click on image below

Cleveland Browns logo & helmet history (1946-1995/ 1999-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database.

    The Cleveland Browns, est. 1946 as a team in the rival league called the AAFC (1946-49)

The white-helmeted Cleveland Browns were the flagship franchise of a rival pro football league called the All-America Football Conference, which challenged the NFL in the late 1940s. The Browns origins date to 1944, when taxi-cab magnate Arthur ‘Mickey’ McBride secured the rights to a Cleveland franchise in the soon-to-be-formed All-America Football Conference. The AAFC existed for 4 seasons, starting in 1946, and for it’s first 3 seasons it had 8 teams, and in it’s final season in 1949 it had 7 teams.

The AAFC was the brainchild of Chicago Tribune sports editor Arch Ward. Several of the AAFC owners were actually better capitalized than some of the NFL owners at the time (back then, basically, NFL teams other than the Bears, the Giants, and the Redskins were usually in poor financial shape). The AAFC challenged the NFL directly in the USA’s 3 biggest cities – in Los Angeles with the Los Angeles Dons, in Chicago with the Chicago Rockets, and in New York City with 2 teams…the New York Yankees (AAFC, 1946-49) and the Brooklyn Dodgers (AAFC, 1946-48).

It may surprise some folks that the AAFC actually outdrew the NFL. From 1946 to 1949, the AAFC, averaged 38,310 a game, versus the 27,602 per game that the NFL drew back then {see this pdf, THE COFFIN CORNER: Vol. 2, No. 7 (1980). “ALL-AMERICA FOOTBALL CONFERENCE”, By Stan Grosshandler.

    Below: map of the AAFC, with selected AAFC uniforms and logos

AAFC (1946-49) map
Image credits above – map of 1940s USA from Illustrations of AAFC uniforms from Gridiron Uniforms Database. Photo of LA Dons ticket from: Photo of 1949 AAFC Chicago Hornets media guide from Photo of 1946 Cleveland Browns game program from,_September_1946.png. Logos of AAFC teams from and [look in NFL section near botom of 1st page there].

What made the AAFC a better draw than the NFL in the late 1940s? The huge popularity of the Cleveland Browns there in northeast Ohio, who drew 60,000 to fill Cleveland Municipal Stadium in their first AAFC game on September 6, 1946 (you can see the game program for that first Cleveland Browns game on the AAFC map above), and went on to draw between 40,000 and 50,000 for most of their home games in the AAFC. But it wasn’t just the Browns that were drawing above or near the NFL average – 3 other cities that had no NFL franchises at the time – San Francisco, Baltimore, and Buffalo – had AAFC teams that were drawing in the mid-20,000s-to-30,000s-per-game-range. Those 3 teams were the red-and-silver San Francisco 49ers {here are the uniforms of the 1948 AAFC San Francisco 49ers, the green-and-silver-Baltimore Colts {here are the uniforms of the 1948 AAFC Baltimore Colts}, and the original Buffalo Bills (AAFC, 1947-49), who wore dark-blue-and-silver {here are the uniforms of the 1949 AAFC Buffalo Bills}. Of those 3, Baltimore had the smaller crowds (low-20-K range), Buffalo played almost to capacity in their 30-K-capacity stadium, and San Francisco drew the highest of the three, often drawing above 30,000 and even getting 40,000 a few times. Another solid and very-good-drawing team in the AAFC was the New York football Yankees (AAFC, 1946-49), who lost to the Browns twice in the AAFC championship game – by score of 14-9 in 1946 in front of 41,000 at Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, and in the following season (1947) the football Yankees lost again to the Browns in the title-game, by the score of 14-3 in front of an impressive 60,000 at Yankee Stadium. The AAFC Yankees, like their baseball namesakes, wore dark-navy-blue as their primary color, and added a secondary color of grey {here are the uniforms of the 1947 AAFC New York Yankees}. The Yankees of the AAFC probably would have been able to survive as an NFL team had the NFL allowed them to join in 1950, but the NFL chose not to let in any AAFC teams from cities which already had an NFL team or teams (ie, Los Angeles, Chicago, and New York City).

The only problem with the AAFC, one that would prove to be its undoing, was the fact that the Cleveland Browns were too successful, and that, coupled with the fact that the AAFC had no draft, made all the other teams in the league unable to stay competitive with the Browns. A very telling statistic was this…the last 2 AAFC title games, both played in Cleveland, only drew 22,000, because everyone knew it was a foregone conclusion that the Browns would win those games (they won over the Bills 49-7 in front of 22,981 in 1948 and 21-7 over the 49ers in front of 22,550 in the last ever AAFC game in 1949 {see this, ‘AAFC/championship games‘ ( Another problem was the weakness of the last 2 AAFC franchises to form – the Brooklyn team and the Miami franchise (which moved to Baltimore after losing $350,000 as the Miami Seahawks in 1946). The Brooklyn team closed up after the third AAFC season (1948) and merged with the Yankees AAFC team for the league’s last season in 1949 (they were officially called the Brooklyn-New York Yankees, but no one called them that). The Miami-to-Baltimore franchise was always under-capitalized and the green-and-silver original Baltimore Colts (I) were never able to muster the large support that the second (blue-and-white) Baltimore Colts (II) had. The Baltimore Colts of the AAFC were the weakest of the 3 teams that the NFL allowed to join in 1950 and only lasted one season. As it says in the AAFC page ar, …{excerpt}…’There was some sentiment to admit the Bills rather than the Colts, as the Bills had better attendance and the better team. However, Buffalo’s size (only Green Bay was smaller) and climate were seen as problems’…{end of excerpt}. The NFL chose the Colts (I) instead of the Bills (I) as an expansion team in 1950, and the city of Buffalo would have to wait another 20 years before they got a modern-day NFL franchise.

Three AAFC franchises joined the NFL in 1950 – the Cleveland Browns (NFL, 1950-95; 1999-2012), the San Francisco 49ers (NFL, 1950-2102), and the short-lived original Baltimore Colts (I) (NFL, 1950/defunct).

In less than 4 years, the NFL went from officially ignoring and publicly mocking the AAFC to allowing three teams from the AAFC to join the NFL in 1950. In 1946, NFL commissioner Elmer Layden had remarked that the new AAFC should, “first get a ball, then make a schedule, and then play a game.” That sarcastic statement, often later paraphrased in the media as “tell them to get a ball first” would not be forgotten. Especially when you consider what an ex-AAFC team did 4 seasons later…the Cleveland Browns won the NFL championship in their first season in the NFL in 1950, with virtually the same squad that that steamrolled through all four years of the AAFC.

    The Cleveland Browns – from the AAFC champions to NFL champions in 1950, as an expansion team

Image and Photo credits above – Helmet and uniform illustrations from Gridiron Uniforms Database. Photo of 1951 Bowman Paul Brown trading card from Tinted b&w photo of Otto Graham unattributed at Photo of 1950 Bowman trading card of Lou Groza at Photo of Jim Brown from Photo of Marion Motley in 1948 AAFC championship game from Cleveland Plain Dealer archive via

The Cleveland Browns were founded in the 1946 as a charter franchise of the All-America Football Conference (AAFC), with Paul Brown, the team’s namesake and a pioneering figure in professional football, as its first Head coach and General Manager. Paul Brown first made his name as a 34-year-old Head coach who led the Ohio State Buckeyes to the school’s first national football championship (in 1942, as the AP #1). During World War II, Paul Brown served in the U.S. Navy near Chicago as a coach and instructor at the Great Lakes Naval Station, where he coached the football team. Later, in 1946, when he formed his first Cleveland Browns team, Brown utilized the contacts he had made within both the college football world and within the military. For example, during his time in the Navy there at the Naval Station near Chicago, Paul Brown first met his future Cleveland Browns’ quarterback Otto Graham, who was attending Northwestern University and who became a Navy flier. Brown then signed Graham in April 1945 plucking a future-gridiron-star before any NFL team could ever draft him. Many of the Cleveland Browns players in 1946 were military veterans. With standout players such as Otto Graham (at QB, running a then-innovative T-formation offense), pioneering player Marion Motley (a running back and linebacker and one of the first black players in pro football in the modern era), and northeast-Ohio-born Lou Groza (who doubled as the team’s placekicker and as an offensive tackle), the Cleveland Browns won all 4 AAFC championships.

From ‘Paul Brown‘ (,
{excerpt}…’Brown is credited with a number of American football innovations. He was the first coach to use game film to scout opponents, hire a full-time staff of assistants, and test players on their knowledge of a playbook. He invented the modern face mask, the taxi squad and the draw play. He also played a role in breaking professional football’s color barrier, bringing some of the first African-Americans to play pro football in the modern era onto his teams.’…{end of excerpt}.

Under Paul Brown not only did the Browns win all 4 of the AAFC championships, the team also drew huge crowds, averaging a record-setting 57,000 per game in the first season of the AAFC in 1946. Cleveland Browns’ crowds were often above 50,000, and the Browns averaged a much, much higher gate than the NFL of the late 1940s. The Browns continued to succeed after moving to the NFL in 1950. Cleveland won the NFL championship in its first NFL season, and won two more titles in 1954 and 1955. By then, the Browns had appeared in 10 straight championship games (4 in the AAFC, then 6 in the NFL), and won 7 of them.

In 1957, the Cleveland Browns drafted, in the first round, the Syracuse football and lacrosse star Jim Brown (no relation to Paul Brown). Jim Brown, who grew up in Long Island, NY and whose father was a professional boxer, was a powerful full back with unmatched strength and speed. The Cleveland Browns of the late 1950s and early 1960s would build their teams around the force of nature that was Jim Brown.

The Art Modell era, 1951 to 1995
Art Modell was a 35-year old NYC advertising executive when he bought the Browns in 1961 from a group of shareholders led by National Insurance Company. A power struggle between Paul Brown and Art Modell, which also involved Jim Brown, developed. Here is an excerpt from the en.wikipedia page on the Cleveland Browns… {except}…
…’Journalist D.L. Stewart recounted in Jeff Miller’s book on the AFL, Going Long, “As you well can imagine, Jimmy Brown and Paul were not thick. The buzz was that Jimmy had Modell working for him, and Paul took exception to that”… {end of excerpt}. Not only was Paul Brown being alienated by the owner, but chemistry in the locker room was turning sour – many young Browns players circa 1960, who had not been part of the first great Browns teams of the 1940s and early 1950s, resented Paul Brown’s autocratic coaching style. Art Modell fired Paul Brown in January, 1963. The last title-winning team of the Cleveland Browns (in 1964) was coached by long-time Browns’ assistant coach Blanton Collier. Jim Brown would play 9 seasons for the Browns (1957-65) and would amass a staggering set of statistics. After playing just 9 NFL seasons, Jim Brown had the most career rushing yards (12,312 yards), was record holder for single-season rushing yardage (1,863 in 1963), and he was the all-time leader in rushing touchdowns (106), total touchdowns (126), and all-purpose yards (15,549). After the 1965 season, Jim Brown retired to begin an acting career in Hollywood (which was a shame seeing as how he probably had a couple of good years left in him). Jim Brown was inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, and in 2002 Jim Brown was named by Sporting News as the greatest pro football player in history {see this via wayback machine, ‘Football’s 100 Greatest Players: No. 1 Jim Brown‘(The Sporting News).

The Cleveland Browns have since then been only moderately successful, reaching the league’s playoffs a scant 15 times and appearing in the AFC championship game 3 times (last in 1987, when they lost to the Broncos 38-33).

Conditions at the Cleveland Municipal Stadium worsened throughout the 1980s and early 1990s. Modell got the city of Cleveland to agree to improve Municipal Stadium, and then a new-stadium-referendum was set to be voted on in November 1995. But during this time period, Modell was secretly in discussion with representatives of the city of Baltimore. At this point in time, NFL franchises were threatening to relocate, or were actually relocating, at an alarming rate. There were 3 other franchise-relocations that occurred in the NFL in a 4-year period from 1994 to 1997: Rams from LA to St. Louis in 1994; Raiders from LA back to Oakland in 1994; and Oilers from Houston to Memphis to Nashville as the Tennessee Titans from 1997-98. NFL owners were using the threat of taking their franchise to another city as a way of basically getting a new stadium for free, at the expense of the city and the taxpayers. But the thing was, Modell announced the proposed Browns move to Baltimore on November 6, 1995, the day before the voters could actually vote on the new stadium issue (which voters approved, on Nov. 7, 1995, but was scrapped and a different stadium plan later went forward). From the ‘Art Modell‘ page (…
{excerpt}…”The reaction in Cleveland was hostile. Modell had promised never to move the team. He had publicly criticized the Baltimore Colts’ move to Indianapolis, and had testified in favor of the NFL in court cases where the league unsuccessfully tried to stop Al Davis from moving the Oakland Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles.”…{end of excerpt}.

The result was that Modell moved the Cleveland Browns’ front office and the Cleveland Browns’ player roster to Baltimore, Maryland – where the State of Maryland, trying to fill the vacuum left by the departure of the Baltimore Colts 13 years before, promised Modell a new stadium. Art Modell never set foot in Cleveland again.

Cleveland Browns supporters raised such an outcry that the NFL was forced to make the unprecedented move of forcing Modell to return the Cleveland Browns’ records, history, colors, and uniform design back to Cleveland to await the re-birth of the Cleveland Browns’ franchise. So officially, the Baltimore Ravens were an NFL expansion franchise, and the Browns’ franchise remained dormant for three seasons (1996-98). And then the Browns’ franchise was re-activated in 1999, with the team stocked with new players via an expansion draft. Wait a minute – an expansion draft? I thought, to placate the enraged Browns fans, the NFL was declaring that the 1996 Ravens, not the 1999 Browns, would be called the expansion team. So why did the NFL call the procedure to stock the Cleveland Browns’ roster in 1999 an expansion draft? They are not being consistent here (see this logo, Browns Expansion Draft Logo}. So even the NFL itself, by calling the procedure which stocked the Browns roster an expansion draft, can’t keep up the façade that the Browns today are the same franchise that Modell absconded with in 1995. The return of the Browns’ history, records, colors, and uniform designs is all very well and good from the Browns fans’ perspective, but it is not what the actual history of the event was. Because the squad moved to Baltimore. Calling the Ravens an expansion team in 1996 but then acknowledging that the Browns needed an expansion draft to fill their roster in 1999 is a complete contradiction. The whole thing smacks of historic revisionism and is intellectually dishonest. Browns fans can stare all they want at their overly-romanticized orange-helmet-with-no-logo, but that’s not going to change what really happened in 1995 and ’96. And what happened was this…a football team moved from Cleveland to Baltimore after the 1995 season, and all those players who played for the Cleveland Browns in 1995 were now playing for the Baltimore Ravens in 1996. To insist that the Browns (I) and (II) are the same franchise is to believe that actual history is secondary to some other things, like pretending your team just took a nap for 3 years. Modell took that 1995 Cleveland Browns team and turned it into the 2000 Baltimore Ravens Super Bowl champions. That is what happened. The NFL might call the Ravens an expansion team, but they were the only “expansion team” in the history of the world that didn’t need an expansion draft because they already had a whole roster of Cleveland Browns players. Declaring that the Cleveland Browns established in 1999 are a continuation of the same Cleveland Browns’ franchise first established in the NFL in 1950, and calling the Baltimore Ravens an expansion team is an airbrushing of history. Actually, I have a better word for what it is. It is a lie.

‘A Little History of Brownie the Elf’ (, posted by Vince Grzegorek.

Stadiums the Cleveland Browns have played in –
Cleveland Municipal Stadium, Cleveland, OH. The Browns played here from 1946-1995. Capacity – 1946: 83,000/ 1995: 78,500.
Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, OH. When the Browns’ franchise was re-activated in 1999, the team moved into their new purpose-built stadium built by the city of Cleveland. Capacity: 72,300.
cleveland-browns-stadium_aerial_b.gif’s Eye satellite view.

The Cleveland Browns won 4 NFL Championship titles (1950, 1954, 1955, 1964),
The Browns have never appeared in a Super Bowl final. The Cleveland Browns are one of only 4 teams in the NFL to have never reached a Super Bowl final (the other teams in this dubious category are the Detroit Lions, the Jacksonville Jaguars, and the Houston Texans).

    Pittsburgh Steelers logo & helmet history (1933-2012) – click on image below

Pittsburgh Steelers logo & helmet history (1933-2012)
Helmet illustrations above from Gridiron Uniform Database.

In 1933, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania relaxed the Blue Laws, which had prohibited, among other things, pro football games played on Sundays. That finally cleared the way for the NFL to establish a stronger presence in the state. So in 1933, three new franchises joined the NFL, two of them from the Keystone State: the Philadelphia Eagles, and the Pittsburgh (football) Pirates. [The third new team was the Cincinnati (football) Reds, who only lasted one and a half seasons in the NFL.] As per the common practice of the time, the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL mimicked the city’s Major League Baseball club, the Pitsburgh (baseball) Pirates of the National League, with their name. The Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL (1933-39) chose as their colors the colors of the flag of the city of Pittsburgh (you can see it by clicking on the image above)). The first logo of the team was the coat-of-arms of the city of Pittsburgh, which is in the center of the flag (you can also see it in the illustration below).

Now, in a situation unique to pro sports, all 3 Pittsburgh major-league-teams wear black-and-gold colors. In 1933, the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL were the first present-day franchise in the city to wear black-and-gold, although the short-lived pro hockey club named the Pittsburgh Pirates (of the NHL) did wear gold-and-black when they existed 80 years ago, in the NHL, from 1925-26 to 1929-30 {to see the uniform and logos of the Pittsburgh Pirates of the NHL, see this). The Pittsburgh Pirates of Major League Baseball did not start wearing black-and-gold until 1948 {see this from the Baseball Hall of Fame site Dressed to the Nines, ‘Pittsburgh (NL, 1946-1954)‘ ( That was 14 years after the NFL’s Pirates/Steelers began wearing black-and-gold. The Pittsburgh Penguins of the NHL began wearing black-and-gold colors in 1980-81 {see this ‘Pittsburgh Penguins’ jersey fronts‘ ( The Pittsburgh football Pirates and the Steelers wore yellow-gold helmets before switching to black helmets in 1963. That time period also was when the Steelers began using their variation of the Steelmark logo (see illustration below). For the last 5 games of 1962, the Steelers debuted their first Steelmark logo {see this ‘Steelmark‘ (}, which, like the original Steelmark logo introduced by Pittsburgh’s U.S. Steel in 1960, had the word “Steel” next to 3 star-like shapes. It was on a yellow-gold helmet, and the logo was much larger than the present-day Steelers logo. [Note, this helmet design has been used recently by the Steelers as part of a throwback alternate uniform (in 2007-09, and also in 2011.] The following season, 1963, the Steelers introduced the helmet design that has pretty much stayed the same for the last 50 years. Their second version of the Steelmark logo added “-ers” to the word on the logo, so it now read ‘Steelers’. The team was given permission to add “ers” in 1963 after a petition to the American Iron & Steel Institute. The thick grey circular outline and 3 star-like shapes (called hypocycloids [diamond shapes]) remained. As the team had done with the short-lived yellow-gold Steelmark helmet the year before, the Steelers had their 1963 black helmet design have no logo on the left side of the helmet. Here’s what it says about that in an article from the Steelers’ official website…
…”The Steelers are the only NFL team that sports their logo on only one side of the helmet. At first, this was a temporary measure because the Steelers weren’t sure they would like the look of the logo on an all-gold helmet. They wanted to test them before going all-out. Equipment manager Jack Hart was instructed to put the logo only on one side of the helmet – the right side. The 1962 Steelers finished 9-5 and became the winningest team in franchise history to date. The team finished second in the Eastern Conference and qualified for the Playoff Bowl. They wanted to do something special for their first postseason game, so they changed the color of their helmets from gold to black, which helped to highlight the new logo. Because of the interest generated by having the logo on only one side of their helmets and because of their team’s new success, the Steelers decided to leave it that way permanently. Today’s helmet reflects the way the logo was originally applied and it has never been changed….”
{end of exerpt}. From, ‘History of the Steelers Logo‘.

Image and Photo credits above – Photo of Steelers helmet from Illustrations of Steelers helmets and uniforms from Gridiron Uniforms Database. Logos from Text excerpt from

The owner of the new Pittsburgh Pirates of the NFL was Art Rooney. Since its establishment in 1933, the ownership of the Pittsburgh Pirates/Steelers franchise has remained within the Rooney family. The NFL’s Pittsburgh Pirates played 7 seasons with that name, then in 1940, the Pirates changed their name to the Steelers, in honor of the region’s steel-making industry. The Pirates/Steelers were a poor-to-mediocre team for their first decade, and finally managed to have a winning record in their tenth year, in 1942 (at 2nd place in the NFL East, with a 7-4 record).

At the height of World War II, in 1943, the Steelers and the Philadelphia Eagles were forced to temporarily merge, due to the lack of able-bodied men on the domestic front. The Eagles provided the bulk of the roster, and the team was officially called “the Eagles”, with no city designation. The 1943 Phil.-Pitt. team wore the Eagles’ colors of green-and-silver. Fans soon took to calling them the “Steagles”, and the name stuck. The Steagles played 4 home games in Philadelphia, and 2 home games in Pittsburgh. They finished 5-4-1.

The next year, the Steelers were again forced to temporarily merge due to lack of personnel – in 1944, the Steelers merged with the Chicago Cardinals, and were officially called “Card-Pitt.”. The team wore the white helmets of the Cardinals and the Cardinals’ dark red jerseys, and had an alternate uniform of dark blue jerseys (and white helmet). 3 home games were played by Card-Pitt. in Pittsburgh, and 2 were played in Chicago. The 1943 Chicago Cardinals had been 0-10, and the 1944 Card-Pitt. team finished 0-10 as well. Journalists started to derisively call them the Carpets (a take on the phrase Card-Pitt.), as in “everyone walked all over them”.

Through the 1940s and the 1950s, and into the mid-1960s, the Steelers were pretty much the worst franchise in the NFL (not counting expansion teams, like the Saints). They had won no titles, and were chronically cash-strapped. But the “lovable losers” finally began to prevail, through solid scouting, and then the arrival of coach Chuck Noll, in 1969. Franco Harris’ “immaculate reception” in the 1972 playoffs versus the Raiders was like an indication from the Gods of Football that the Steelers’ time had finally come. Those Steelers were led by QB Terry Bradshaw, RB Franco Harris, DE Mean Joe Green, and LB Jack Ham. All four of those players had been selected by Noll in the 1969 through 1972 NFL drafts. That laid the foundation for a squad that brought Super Bowl titles to Pittsburgh in the 1974, 1975, 1978, and 1979 seasons. The Pittsburgh Steelers have won the most Super Bowl titles – 6 – with their last Super Bowl title won in the 2008 season, over the Arizona Cardinals, led by Head coach Mike Tomlin.

Below – the legendary Pittsburgh Steelers of the 1970s
Photo credits above – Terry Bradshaw on SI cover (1974) from Photo of Franco Harris from Photo of Jack Ham and Mean Joe Greene in discussion by Gojovich/Getty Images via Photo of Vince Lombardi Trophy from Photo of Coach Noll being carried off field on the shoulders of Harris and Greene from

Stadiums the Pittsburgh Pirates (NFL) and the Pittsburgh Steelers have played in -
For 31 seasons (1933-63), the Steelers shared Forbes Field with the Pittsburgh baseball Pirates, which had a capacity of 41,000 in that era. In 1958, though, they started splitting their home games with the football-only Pitt Stadium three blocks away at the University of Pittsburgh. From 1964 to ’69, the Steelers played exclusively at that on-campus facility before moving with the baseball Pirates to Three Rivers Stadium on the city’s Northside (which had a capacity of 59,000 for its football configuration). The Steelers played 31 seasons at Three Rivers Stadium, from 1970 to 2000). Then in 2001, the Steelers moved into their state-of-the-art and purpose-built stadium, named Heinz Field after the condiments-king H.J. Heinz Co., which is based in Pittsburgh. Heinz Field has a capacity of 65,050.

Pittsburgh Steelers: 6 Super Bowl titles (1974, 1975, 1978, 1979, 2005, 2008).
The Pittsburgh Steelers are 6-2 in Super Bowl appearances -
In the 1974 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl IX (#9) over the Vikings by a score of 16-6.
In the 1975 season, the Steelers won Super X (#10) over the Cowboys by a score of 21-17.
In the 1978 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XIII (#13) ovr the Cowboys again by the score of 35-31.
In the 1979 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XIV (#14) over the Los Angeles Rams by the score of 31-19.
In the 1995 season, the Steelers lost Super Bowl XXX (#30) to the Cowboys by the score of 27-17.
In the 2005 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XL (#40) over the Seattle Seahawks by the score of 21-10.
In the 2008 season, the Steelers won Super Bowl XLII (#42) over the Arizona Cardinals by the score of 27-23.
In the 2010 season, the Steelers lost Super Bowl XLV (#45) to the Green Bay Packers by the score of 31-25.


Thanks to, for info on game dates, records, etc,

Thanks to, for image of 1950s-era playing card with 1951-59 Pittsburgh Steelers’ logo,
Thanks to Logoserver for Pittsbutgh Steelers’ 1951-60 logo.,
Thanks to or the photo of the Steelers’ white-jersey-front logo patch –

Thanks to Chris Creamer’s Sports Logos Page, for many of the old logos and for dates of logos, such as Pittsburg Steelers 1962 “Steel” Steelmark logo (on yellow-gold helmet), 1962 Helmet [with 'Steel' Steelmark logo on yellow-gold helmet].

Thanks to Logo Shak, for some old logos, such as [1968-69 Cincinnati Bengals logo].

Thanks to, for the photo of the 1951 Bowman Paul Brown card.

Helmet photos -
Thanks to
Thanks to
Thanks to
Thanks to

Thanks to, for road signs.

Thanks to The Helmet Project, for dates of helmets and info,

Thanks to Helmets, Helmets, Helmets site, for helmets on the map page, and for dates of helmets,

Thanks to JohnnySeoul at each NFL team’s page at, for 2012 NFL uniforms, such as ‘AFCE-Uniform-BUF.PNG‘.

Thanks to Remember The (, which is now on my Blogroll.
Special thanks to Gridiron Uniform Database, for allowing use of their NFL uniforms illustrations.

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