Skip to content

What if NFL Team Names and Logos Reflected Their True Home Cities?

Posted in:

[Editor’s Note: Today we have a guest post from reader Jared Pike, who’s engaged in a fun thought experiment. Enjoy! — Paul]

By Jared Pike

There’s a certain kind of pedantic NFL fan who says: “Why are they called the San Francisco 49ers when they play an hour away in Santa Clara?”

I believe these people are missing the point. In a sense, all NFL teams are regional teams. They may play their games in one locality, but they represent far more than just that specific neighborhood, city, or state. The Packers play in the city of Green Bay, but they represent all of Wisconsin; the Seahawks play in the city of Seattle, but they are the default home team for the entire Pacific Northwest.

Besides, where does the true essence of an NFL team rest? Is it solely in the stadium where they play, or in the City Hall of their team name? Do the “Dallas Cowboys” belong in Dallas, their namesake city? Or in Irving, where they played a majority of the games in their history? Or in Arlington, where they currently play? Or in Frisco, their team headquarters where they spend most of their time?

I decided to take this line of thought to its logical conclusion: What if NFL teams changed their logos to fit the specific locality where they play? Would the results be better than what they have now? Let’s find out.

Santa Clara 49ers

The 49ers have always historically played in the city of San Francisco (Kezar Stadium and Candlestick Park), but in 2014 they moved 40 miles away, to Silicon Valley. However, the Santa Clara/San Jose area actually has a larger population than San Francisco, and twice the population of Oakland. So having them represent the Bay Area isn’t too wild of a notion.

Orchard Park Bills

In the AFL days, the Bills played near downtown Buffalo at War Memorial Stadium. But since 1973, they’ve played 13 miles away in what locals call the Southtowns. In the 2000s, the Bills even boldly (and unsuccessfully) tried to expand their territory across international borders, playing select home games 100 miles away in Toronto.

City of Tampa Buccaneers

This name is an homage to Gregg Easterbrook’s brilliant Tuesday Morning Quarterback column, one of the aforementioned NFL pedants who inspired this article. In this case, however, his pedantry is completely appropriate: Nobody lives in Tampa Bay — it’s a body of water! (MLB’s Tampa Bay Rays and the NHL’s Tampa Bay Lightning suffer the same misnomer, obviously.)

Glendale Cardinals

Even when they became the Phoenix Cardinals in 1988, the Cardinals never played in Phoenix. Sun Devil Stadium is in Tempe, 10 miles to the east. Their current stadium in Glendale is 17 miles west of Phoenix. That’s why they changed their name to the more region-friendly Arizona Cardinals in 1994.

Inglewood Chargers

It’s taken a long time to stop reflexively saying “San Diego Chargers.” But even after first moving to “Los Angeles” in 2017, they didn’t play in Los Angeles – they played in Carson, 16 miles away. So is calling them the “Inglewood Chargers” really that much of a stretch? (For the record, they did play their first AFL season in 1960 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.)

Hollywood Park Rams

The Rams are also not strangers to playing outside of LA, having spent the 1980s in Anaheim, 33 miles to the south. Even their current stadium suffers from geographic mislabeling; it’s part of an entertainment complex called Hollywood Park, despite being located 12 miles south of Hollywood.

Landover Commandovers

I can’t take Washington’s new name seriously, so I decided to give them a new minor league-style rhyming name to match their Maryland location.

Some additional trivia:

  • Fun fact No. 1: When former owner Jack Kent Cooke decided to move the team out of downtown DC in 1997, he registered “Raljon” as an alternate name for Landover’s zip code (named after his two sons, Ralph and John). He then compelled TV broadcasters to say the stadium was located in “Raljon, Maryland.” After Dan Snyder bought the team in 1999, he reverted the name back to Landover – the only good decision he ever made as owner!
  • Fun fact No. 2: They are the only NFL team whose stadium and team headquarters are in two different states (Maryland and Virginia respectively, neither in the District of Columbia). The Panthers came close (see below).
  • Fun fact No. 3: Landover, Md., also used to host the similarly misnamed Washington Bullets (NBA) and Washington Capitals (NHL), who both played in the misnamed (and curiously European-spelled) Capital Centre.

Arlington Cowboys

True, the Dallas Cowboys did start out in Dallas in 1960, playing at the Cotton Bowl. But they aspire to represent all of Texas (and, if the folklore is to be believed, the whole country as “America’s Team“). Even the NFL chooses to err on the side of regionalism: When Cowboys Stadium hosted Super Bowl XLV, the NFL didn’t advertise it as being in “Dallas” or “Arlington,” but “North Texas.”

Miami Gardens Dolphins

The Fins’ former home, the Orange Bowl, was indeed in the city of Miami. But when their current stadium was built in 1987, it was located 14 miles away in unincorporated Miami-Dade County (but with a Miami postal address). The surrounding neighborhoods have since been incorporated into the new city of Miami Gardens. Much like the “North Texas” situation (see above), the NFL chose to split the difference in 2007 and refer to Super Bowl XLI’s location as “South Florida.”

New Jersey Giants and East Rutherford Jets

The ultimate example of city-as-region, the two “New York” teams (who aren’t located in New York City or State) actually represent our country’s largest metropolitan area, comprising more than 20 million people. Even though they have shared a stadium in New Jersey since 1983, their two fanbases have an interesting geographical delineation based on history. The Giants, who used to play at Yankee Stadium, generally tend to be favored in Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island. The Jets, who used to play in Shea Stadium, tend to attract fans from Brooklyn, Queens, and Long Island.


  • Fun fact No. 1: If you think East Rutherford (seven miles from midtown Manhattan) is too far from New York, imagine what things were like in 1973, when the Giants played in the Yale Bowl in New Haven, Conn. – 76 miles away!
  • Fun Fact No. 2: Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but in 2010 the NFL chose to officially refer to the Super Bowl XLVIII host as “New York – New Jersey.”

Charlotte Panthers

The Panthers were engineered from the start to be a regional team, representing both North and South Carolina. They played their first season in 1995 in Clemson, S.C., before moving to Charlotte, N.C. Even their panther-head logo mimics the shape of the two states. However, their quest to formalize this regional dominance by building a massive $1 billion new headquarters in Rock Hill, S.C., fell through last year when owner David Tepper’s real estate company filed for bankruptcy. (Editor’s Note: The amusement park Carowinds literally straddles the North/South Carolina border. The Panthers should set up their team offices there! — Paul]

Foxborough Patriots

Born as the Boston Patriots, the team played most of the 1960s in Fenway Park. But in 1971 they moved 22 miles south, expanding their ambition by renaming the team after the entire New England region. Their new stadium would eventually be called “Foxboro Stadium.” Or is it “Foxborough“? The town officially adopts the longer spelling, yet both the post office and the highway signs recognize the shortened version. For the logo, I think the longer version looks more appropriately colonial.

Paradise Raiders

Cue the CGP Grey video explaining why Las Vegas isn’t really Las Vegas. For what it’s worth, “Paradise Raiders” sounds like a pretty rad video game.

Nashville Titans

This team has served as a cautionary tale of how not to represent a region. In 1997, Houston Oilers owner Bud Adams intended to relocate to Nashville, but with no stadium ready to host them, Adams figured that Memphis (212 miles to the west) would happily welcome them as a “Tennessee” team. He was wrong! Not only did Memphians not show up, but Nashvillians refused to drive five hours one way to see their future team (which was still called the Oilers!). 1999 brought resolution in the form of a new stadium and a new alliterative name: Tennessee Titans. But let’s be real — this is Nashville’s team. They’d sooner wear throwbacks from Houston than recognize their neighbors in Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga, or anywhere else.

Minneapolis Vikings

The Vikings’ first home in 1961, Metropolitan Stadium, was technically 11 miles south of downtown in the suburb of Bloomington. Every stadium since – even their temporary home during their current stadium’s construction – has been within the city limits of Minneapolis. Interestingly, almost all pro teams in the Twin Cities call themselves “Minnesota” – the only American city that consistently yields its identity to its home state in this way.

So what do you think? Are the pedants right? Which of these new identities strikes more of a chord than the existing ones?


Paul here. Really fun project! Big thanks to Jared for sharing it with us.



One Last NHL Season Preview Reminder

The NHL regular season begins tonight. So if you haven’t already checked out the annual Uni Watch NHL Season Preview — your go-to guide to all of this season’s new uniforms, logos, goalie masks, ice designs, and deep-cut info you won’t find anywhere else — now is definitely the time to do so!

The Season Preview has been updated with a bunch of late-breaking news. You can read the start of the Season Preview here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paid subscriber to my Substack (which will also give you access to my full Substack archives and to the upcoming NBA Season Preview, which will be published in two weeks).

My thanks, as always, for your support and consideration.



IMPORTANT: Silver Uni-Versary Party Input Needed

In case you missed it on Monday, I need your input and feedback regarding our plans for Uni Watch’s upcoming 25th uni-versary. If you haven’t already seen that post, please check it out here. Thanks!



Can of the Day

Love the intentionally misspelled brand name. Also: Very interesting “F” and “E” letterforms!

Comments (59)

    Glad to see Kuality Kup kept the proper spelling of coffee to avoid a “Krusty Komedy Klassic” situation ;)


    I can’t believe y’all didn’t include the Ashwaubenon Packers. They’re in a suburb, dontcha know?

    A common misconception. The city limits of Green Bay, otherwise along Lombardi Ave, bump out around Lambeau Field. You can see it on the DOT’s map of Brown County (Lombardi Ave is County VK, Oneida St is County AAA).


    I thought they moved that boundary line after the fact -that the stadium was not in GB when originally built.

    Actually, Lambeau Field is on land annexed by Green Bay. Their practice fields are across the street in Ashwaubenon.

    Did not know this one! Hilarious that they have to go to a different town to practice (across the street).

    I love it! I’d like to see this for other leagues as well. I have long referred to my local MLS team as Real Sandy, based on their suburban stadium location 14 miles south of Downtown Salt Lake. I will begin rooting for the Salt Lake City Jazz.

    The best line about Raljon came from Tony Kornheiser. “I’m glad his kids weren’t named Peter and Ennis.”

    I know several Mets/Giants families. They tend to be from Brooklyn and Staten Island whose grandparents were Dodgers/Giants fans and they just kept the National League when the Mets were born.

    My family is from the Bronx and we’re Yankees/Jets. My father was 9 when they won the Super Bowl, and I think that went a long way for his generation.

    I’m a Mets/Giants fan. My Dad is Yankees/Jets. My brother is Red Sox/Dolphins. We do agree on the Rangers though!


    OK, first off, this is awesome, well-researched and the graphics are great.


    Even with the TPFIC nature of this, it’s not NJ Giants. NEVER. I’ll accept East Rutherford Giants, but it is not and will never be NJ Giants.

    The team was NOT named for New York State, it was named for New York CITY. Moving them to another CITY (East Rutherford) is one thing, but they’re still 10-ish miles from NYC.

    Since they are NOT named for NY State, you cannot — even in fun — call them the NJ Giants.

    I will never (even if this project is awesome and in good fun) accept.

    It doesn’t even work for the other NY team (which for some reason you chose to call East Rutherford). If anything, call them the Jersey Jets (for the alliteration) even though it’s not technically correct either.

    Sorry…there aren’t many things that set me off, but this is one ;)

    Sorry Phil, I’ll let the Giants be but for leaving Shea to follow the Giants out of town the Jets will always be the NEW JERSEY Jets to me.

    So get that big honking New York off your uniform, Jets! You haven’t played here in 40 years, you want so badly for the Big Apple to embrace you again.

    Living in South Jersey, which is clearly Philly territory, my anecdotal experience of my neighbors to the north is that actually the Jets are more NY than NJ in that while the Giants are going to hold the majority (or plurality) of fans throughout the NY metro area, the Jets percentage of fan share is the highest in Long Island, NJ is far more pro-Giants than NY is.
    I know there was a county by county map of fan loyalty based on facebook data, for MLB you can actually see the share by team per zip code, for NFL the only one I could find was the map that simply shows the team with the most likes per zip/county, not the actual breakdown in each. I’d be curious if my anecdotal experience matches the reality of it.

    What do you really think Phi?

    For what it’s worth, I almost called them the “Moonachie Giants.” But that wouldn’t be technically accurate either.

    What does it mean to “…register “Raljon” as an alternate name for Landover’s zip code…?”

    Question aside, a very interesting thought experiment!

    The area of Maryland where the Washington football team’s stadium is located is not incorporated, It’s a census-designated place (“CDP”) that the US Postal Service has usually referred to as Landover for purposes of location identification and mail delivery.

    But when Jack Kent Cooke built the stadium, as the principal landowner in the CDP, he successfully petitioned the Postal Service to allow him to call the area serviced by the ZIP code where the stadium is located as “Raljon.” Thus, the stadium’s official mailing address could be written as “Raljon, MD” (although you could also address it as “Landover, MD,” and your mail would have been delivered as long as the ZIP code was correct).

    It’s not all that unusual for mailing addresses to have more than one serviceable “city” address component. For example, when I lived in California as a kid, my house was in an area known as Newbury Park, which is technically within the city limits of Thousand Oaks. You could use either place name as part of the place name and the mail would be correctly delivered.

    The Minnesota thing is basically they don’t want to cheese off the other twin city. Vikings, Twins, and Twolves are in Minneapolis while the Wild are in St Paul.

    The Twins went to the point of literally naming themselves the Twins so they didn’t piss off Minneapolis Millers or St Paul Saints fans.

    Yeah, I’ve never really understood the pedantry over TB specifically. The Tampa Bay area is a metropolitan area that includes the cities of Tampa, St. Petersburg, and Clearwater.

    I genuinely don’t see a difference between TB and the SF Bay Area. We know that it’s not referring to the literal body of water.

    Agreed. But why doesn’t San Francisco do the same? Why the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but not the San Francisco Bay 49ers? Again, just a thought experiment.

    I wasn’t including you when referring to the pedantry! I like what you’ve done here, and Tampa as a city is certainly more accurate than TB as a region.

    I was more so thinking of the numerous people I’ve seen on Twitter (usually responding to Jay Cuda tweets) saying “tAmPa BaY iS a BoDy Of WaTeR, nOt A pLaCe”.

    The Charlotte Panthers and Nashville Titans are 2 I would be OK with re-naming.

    As an aside, I still harbor some residual sadness over the demise of the original USFL…and never really got over the movement of my home-town Stars to “Baltimore” (College Park was/is closer to DC) before the league went belly-up.

    I’ve always taken team locale names to be based on the big city within that region, even if the stadium exists within the sprawl of that specific city.
    Niners are really the only team on this list that exists outside the sprawl of their metro area name. San Jose – Santa Clara is a completely different metro statistical area than San Francisco – Oakland. (Which is why I always found it a joke when SF Giants blocked the A’s from moving south into San Jose).
    Not being from the SF Bay Area I’m not sure how locals view the connection between SF/Oakland and San Jose areas.
    Is it viewed like Dallas/Ft Worth or Tampa/St Pete, where it is all one region? Is it viewed more like Washington / Baltimore, two distinct big cities but within an hour of each other?

    Not trying to speak for everyone, but in my experience growing up in the SJ suburbs in the 80’s, the sports teams represented “The Bay Area” as a whole. The sports page of the San Jose Mercury News devoted just as much ink to the Giants as the A’s. When the Sharks started, we did not think of them as “our” team exclusive to the South Bay.

    The Giants’ “territorial rights” is a case of no good deed going unpunished since it was the A’s that allowed the Giants to “annex” the South Bay to prevent them from moving to Tampa. No one in Santa Clara County decided to change allegiances because of it.

    Since the 49ers have moved to Santa Clara and whenever people point that out, I jokingly say they’re the San Francisco (Bay Area) 49ers to justify the name.

    Grew up in Sacramento where every team from the “Bay Area” really besides the Warriors are Sacramento teams. River Cats have been the AAA team to the A’s and now the Giants. These teams reach as far as Oregon to Tahoe/Reno so the cities they actually play in or named after doesn’t matter.

    I have plenty of friends who are A’s/49ers fans or Raiders/Giants.

    Maybe a suggestion for the 49ers could actually be like the Warriors. The Golden State 49ers which actually fits well given the use of gold and 49.

    Sacto kid here as well, the only Bay Area team I didn’t like and root for were the Raiders, but that was because several trips to Chargers training camp when I was young cemented the Chargers as my AFC-NFL team.

    It’s a nice idea. Extra points for the work on the Panthers.

    Thing is, I don’t think it’s a coincidence that the Carolina Panthers are probably more embraced in the region than the Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats have been. (While I want to say that the Carolina Hurricanes are supported as well, but hockey is still gaining a foothold in a region that identifies itself with basketball and football). Striving to be a regional team works much better here.

    Shouldn’t the Bills logo be changed to a group of trees or something for this? No one knows what a Bill is, but that buffalo logo is certainly there because of Buffalo (the city). So if we are going with Orchard Park, the logo should be trees.

    I’m waiting for the Bills to change their logo to a long-haired, handlebar mustachioed, gunslinger

    Thanks to Uni Watch, I learned there is pathological hatred between Dallas and its neighbors to the west. So it absolutely tickles me that Arlington hosts the most Dallas-centric object in the universe, the NFL Cowboys.

    I love the New Jersey Giants logo. I’ve said for years that’s what should be on their helmets if they’re not going use the italicized underlined GIANTS.

    As for teams with states or regions in their name, I don’t think those should be changed. It’s the whole state or region.

    Finally, isn’t it interesting that the three NFL teams that have New York localities in their name don’t play where they say they are from?

    The Titans move was a mess, but us Memphians not showing up that year had a lot to do with the bitter taste of the NFL spurning us for expansion a few years earlier…then suddenly becoming a “rental” location seemed like an even bigger insult. Not changing the name didn’t help. They’re a bit more of a state team now than they were 25 years ago, but it’s been a slow build.

    Fun little project!

    Hot take: if our major sports leagues are sticking with granting massive geographic exclusivity territories to franchises, with mostly only one team per region (unless you’re NY, Chicago, LA, or for a little while more anyway, the SF Bay area), team names should have to actually reflect that entire region, not one specific city, no matter how big it is.

    It’s especially important for area with multiple distinct, major cities/communities. Minnesota and Tampa Bay do this well, but for example southern Florida does not, where only one of the five major league teams carries a regional-encompassing moniker.

    This project points out the silliness of all the Chicagoans up in arms about the potential move to the suburbs. I think that the opening comment about teams representing larger regions than just the main city itself is spot on. If you wanted to use a regional name instead of a specific locale, you could call them the Chicagoland Bears.

    If you want to go hyper local on the other hand, you could currently call them the South Loop Bears. Chicago is known for its many neighborhoods. If one Chicagoan asks another where they live, they will respond with what neighborhood they live in (Wicker Park, River North, Old Town, etc.)

    One of the early options for the Panthers’ stadium site was actually next to Carowinds, with the 50-yard line on the state border.

    Fun stuff, Jared! I hope you have the other major North American sports leagues on tap for this though expriement!

    I think some of these are a bit of a reach, when in fact there are plenty of teams that don’t play in their associated locales. Obviously the NY Giants and Jets are the worst offenders, but changing the Tennessee Titans to the Nashville Titans is a stretch when Nashville is clearly in Tennessee.

    It’s not a “stretch”; it’s just making it about the city instead of something larger than the city. That’s the point of the project.

    Now, maybe you don’t see the need to narrow the focus from the state to the city — and that’s fine, of course. But that doesn’t make it a “stretch.”

    I’d be interested in seeing how MLB names and logos would be redesigned if they followed the NPB custom of naming the teams after their corporate owners!

    Teams do get sold a fair amount, from the looks of things, and they generally are renamed. (This is mostly me picking over Wikipedia for examples, so apologies for any errors.) To pick one example, the Fighters, formerly the Flyers (and originally the Senators), were at various points the Tokyu Flyers, Kyuei Flyers briefly when another partner joined the ownership group, Tokyu Flyers again, Toei Flyers, Nittaku Home Flyers, and Nippon-Ham Fighters, before settling (for now) as the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters.

    Flip side of this is the Hiroshima Carp, officially the Hiroshima Toyo Carp, which is owned by an individual who at one point had an ownership interest in a company called Toyo Kogyo. His family sold that company (which is now Mazda), but kept the old name of the company alive in the official name of the baseball team.

    This was a cool little fun fact exploration until the landover commandovers, at which point it became brilliant. Any chance to take a shot at that name is a chance worth taking.

    The Rams and the Chargers both play in a stadium located within Los Angeles County. Seems good enough. It’s not always a binary choice between “city” and “state”.

    The Bucs were the first major pro team in this area. Legend has it that ownership settled on “Tampa Bay” instead of “Tampa” to try and be inclusive to the zillion suburbs around here. The Lightning and Devil Rays followed suit for similar reasons. (Also, “Tampa Bay Devil Rays” sounds better than “St. Petersburg Devil Rays”)

    Great work! Did not know the weird Panther was the two Carolina’s outline. Also, how away from the team city name does the team have to move before its an issue? Can Oakland A’s play in Las Vegas?

Comments are closed.