Thursday, May 7, 2009

You Don't Look a Day Over Eighty-Nine

Today, the Packers released a logo to commemorate the team's "90th Birthday" (hat tip: Ryan):

From the press release:

Team Turns 90 Aug. 11; Logo, Contests To Mark Occasion

As the story goes, George Calhoun had a chance meeting with Earl 'Curly' Lambeau on a Green Bay street corner in the summer of 1919 and the two discussed starting a football team. A few weeks later, on Aug. 11, the two called a group of young athletes together to organize a team...the gathering marked the beginning of the Green Bay Packers.

This summer will mark the 90th birthday of the Packers, and the organization will celebrate the occasion with a "90 Years" logo, an online trivia contest and other fan activities.

"As the team marks its 90th birthday on Aug. 11, we look forward to celebrating nine decades, 12 world championships and several generations of Packers fans," said Craig Benzel, Packers director of marketing and sales. "We have a number of ways for fans to participate throughout the season."

The online aspect of the birthday celebration will feature a special page on that will greet fans and invite them to participate in a trivia contest with questions that will span the 90 years of the team's history.

This summer's Packers Family Night will help celebrate the occasion with a 90th birthday party theme. The night will feature a special fan giveaway item, birthday-related activities and on-field promotions that incorporate the birthday party theme. More details about Family Night, including the date of the event and ticket sales information, will be announced this month.

Among the other team areas that will feature the logo include game tickets, Curly's Pub and the Packers Hall of Fame. The Packers Pro Shop also will offer a number of items that feature the logo.

More highlights of the team's birthday celebration will be detailed in the coming months.

The article doesn't say, but if they're going to market merchandise with this logo I'm presuming that it will also see service as a jersey patch. We'll see.

There's some real good in this logo. I've long been an advocate of the Packers promoting (heck, acknowledging) 1919 as the date of founding. Few things bother me more than the stupid "Est. 1921" that they put on merchandise. The Packers have a long tradition that pre-dates the NFL; why pretend otherwise? So that does my heart good to see.

On the whole, the design is pretty good. Clean and easy to read, team logo prominent, no superfluous elements. It's not perfect - I'm not a fan of multiple outlines around anything, and three outlines around the numbers is way too much - but it's not bad at all.

Presuming that this will become a patch, it provides us with an excellent excuse to look at the way the Packers have honored other milestones on their uniforms.

The first milestone to make the uniform was the NFL's 50th Anniversary. For the 1969 season, all players wore a commemorative patch on their left shoulders:

A long uniform-patch drought would follow: the next anniversary to be so noted was the Packers' 75th Season, which was celebrated in 1993.

The 75th Anniversary logo was too complicated to embroider, so the jersey patch was a simplified version of the logo, minus the banner:

For the first time, the patch was worn on the left breast (television numbers had moved to the shoulders in the years since 1969, fleeing from the players' arms in advance of the retreating sleeves).

I really like this one. It's simple and elegant (although the Starter-jacket-ish speed lines above the diamond do speak to the era in which it was designed). Again, we wait for details on the 90th Birthday patch. But I'm guessing that the logo was designed to be simple enough to translate on a jersey and won't need another version.

The following season, in 1994, the entire league celebrated its 75th Anniversary. It was commemorated with a patch just slightly less elegant than that of the Packers' diamond anniversary:

This one was also placed on the left chest (click for larger):

I suppose it could have been an attempt to put them over a player's heart, like a soccer team's crest or police officer's badge. Or maybe it could just be the only couple square inches of real estate left on the uniforms.

The NFL 75 patch was also featured during the special League-wide throwback uniform promotion, on my own personal favorite Packer uniform:

Which means, of course, that the patch lives on with throwback jerseys you can buy today:

And after tribute patches in consecutive seasons, that would be it until the NFL added Super Bowl logo patches, beginning with Super Bowl XXXII in San Diego:

About which game I have nothing more to say.

The next commemorative patch would worn for the first two home games of 2003, marking the rededication of Lambeau Field following a three-year, $295-million renovation.

Four years later, in 2007, Lambeau Field celebrated another milestone: its 50th birthday. That inspired another logo:

and another jersey patch:

This time, the patch was only worn on the green home jerseys, not the road whites. When the Packers travelled to Dallas for their Week 13 matchup, the Cowboys elected to wear their own navy throwbacks, meaning the Packers would dress in their road whites (unlike most games in Texas Stadium, when the Cowboys' white home jerseys force visitors to wear their colored jerseys). Had the Packers worn green in that game, the Lambeau Field patches would have been removed and sewn back on for the next game in Green Bay.

We've already discussed the over-the-top Gene Upshaw memorial patch from last season. And that rounds up the list of commemorative patches on Packers uniforms.

If this "90th Birthday" is any indication, it looks like they're sticking with this new honoring scheme, years instead of seasons, which results in nice round numbers (1957-2007, 1919-2009).

Let's hope the Packers have something special planned for 2019.

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