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AFC Championship Game Features Unique Helmet Matchup

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Good morning! By the time most of you read this, I’ll be off to Manhattan for some medical appointments (nothing serious), which will keep me busy until at least noon and probably a bit longer. I have two more posts in the can that will be published this morning, and of course we’ll also have the Ticker. But if there’s any breaking news that takes place while I’m indisposed (like the NHL Stadium Series unveiling, which was supposed to happen this week, so I’m assuming that means today), Phil will cover it. Thanks, Phil!

Now then: Something uni-interesting is in store for this Sunday’s AFC Championship Game between Kansas City and the Ravens — and it has to do with the teams’ helmet logos.

Let’s start with this: There are 32 teams in the NFL. If we weed out the Steelers (whose logo appears on only one side of the helmet), the Browns (who don’t have a helmet logo), and the Bengals (whose tiger striping runs across the top of the shell), that leaves us with 29 teams that have a logo or decoration on each side of the helmet. Those 29 teams fall into three categories:

  • Unitary logos (10 teams): These are the teams that use the exact same logo on each side of the helmet. In other words, they could have a single sheet of logo decals and slap those decals on either side of the helmet. The 10 teams in this category are the Bears, Colts, Commies, Cowboys, 49ers, Giants, Jets, Packers, Raiders, and Saints.
  • Mirror images (17 teams): These teams need to have separate left- and right-side decals, but those decals are just inverted versions of each other — mirror images. This is usually because they want the logo to appear like it’s facing forward or moving forward on both sides of the helmet. The 17 teams in this category are the Bills, Broncos, Bucs, Cardinals, Chargers, Dolphins, Eagles, Falcons, Jags, Lions, Panthers, Pats, Rams, Seahawks, Texans, Titans, and Vikings.
  • Two distinct designs (two teams): These are the teams that would normally go the mirror-image route but can’t do so because their logo includes an asymmetrical letter that would look backwards if it were inverted.

The two teams in that last category, of course, are Kansas City and the Ravens, who’ll be facing each other this Sunday. Here are their helmets:

In each case, the teams wanted the logo to be facing forward on both sides of the helmet, but they couldn’t do a mirror image of the lettering, so they had to create separate left and right designs.

Note that the Titans would also be in this boat, except that the “T” in their logo is symmetrical, so they’re able to do the mirror-image thing:

Meanwhile, there are plenty of teams whose helmet logos feature asymmetrical lettering — the 49ers, Giants, Jets, Packers, Raiders, and Commies — but those teams don’t have anything in their logo designs that needs to be front-facing (like a bird’s beak or an arrowhead’s point), so they can just use a single, unitary logo on both sides of their helmets. In fact, the Ravens were once in that category themselves, as their original helmet logo had asymmetrical lettering but nothing that needed to be front-facing:

As for KC and the Ravens, they’ve faced each other 12 times since the Ravens began wearing their current helmet logos in 1999, but only once in the playoffs, and never in the conference championship game, so this will be the highest-stake confrontation ever between the two teams in this rare helmet category.



Substack Reminder

In case you missed it on Thursday, this week’s Uni Watch Premium article on Substack is a deep dive on “World Champions” vs. “World’s Champions,” and how teams have addressed that phrasing on their uniforms (as pioneered by the 1906 New York Giants, shown above), rings, banners, and more. It was a really fun deep dive to put together, and I think you’ll enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed researching and writing it.

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paid subscriber to my Substack (which will also get you full access to my Substack archives). My thanks, as always, for your consideration and support.



Breaking: New York Football Giants Actually Operating in New York!

They’ve been replacing the water main in front of Uni Watch HQ, and I was amused to see one of the workers wearing a New York Football Giants-themed hard hat. Here are some additional pics:


Can of the Day

I never knew Kellogg’s made coffee! Makes perfect sense when you think about it, but I had no idea. Odd brand name, but I love the design and typography — well, except maybe for that second “f.” Why doesn’t the cross go all the way through?

• • • • •

Countdown: I’ll be leaving Uni Watch four months from today. When I made that announcement a few weeks ago, I said I wanted to go out with a finishing kick, not coast to the finish line. I hope this week has shown that I really meant it!

Have a good weekend and enjoy the conference championship games. Go Niners! Peace. — Paul

Comments (47)

    Seems obvious to me that both design was created first for the right-facing side of the helmet and then made to work for the other. I remember feeling strongly as a kid drawing helmets that the right-facing helmet was the ‘correct’ way to display helmets unless one was creating matchups. Then, I always used face mask to face mask not back to back. Now, as an adult, I have display helmets of many teams (that I would have killed for as a kid) and find it strange that sometimes a back to back pairing is more satisfying. Life growth?

    On Kellogg’s Coffee: 97% caffeine removed, so that probably goes back to the actual Dr Kellogg and his crazy diet recommendations on bland, non-upsetting, non-stimulating food.

    That picture of Patrick Mahomes just shows how abnormal the way he wears his helmet is. The earhole has his bandana showing through. I get that he feels he has better vision wearing it like that… but it looks so weird. Amazing talent, willing to look like a doofus, suffering for his craft.

    I wish he’d figure out a way to wear his helmet that would cover up that ridiculous hair-tail thing he has. Or maybe just cut that tail off. It looks silly for a grown man to have a hair-tail.

    I’ve always wondered about Mahomes’ helmet. It sits higher on his head than other players’ helmets do. Does anyone know why? Does he have some extra concussion-resistant padding or something under there? It looks weird.

    Can’t unsee Mahomes’ helmet oddity now… I always think Aaron Rodgers’ helmet looks strange too. He looks like The Great Gazoo from The Flintstones to me, like the helmet is way too big for his (big) head, and our of proportion with his body. Not sure if it’s how he wears it, or if he is wearing a larger helmet for some reason.

    Kaffee HAG is actually a German brand that was bought by Kellogg’s in 1928 when they bought another company. They sold it again in 1939. The original brand was from Bremen, Germany, and was started as a decaf brand in 1906. HAG is an acronym that stands for Handels Aktien Gesellschaft or Trading Limited Company. We could buy it here in the Netherlands for many years. In France it was named Sanka (Sans Caffeine). Both HAG and Sanka ended up in American hands. Great can. The lifesaver band around the name could indicate its origins, as Bremen is a port. Go Niners!

    I think I always view it as 1. teams you can mirror flip the helmet and the design works, and 2. you can’t mirror flip because of lettering, and 3. Chefs/Ravens as a weird combo of the two. But I considered the Colts/Cowboys/Saints fit into the team that you can mirror flip, but since the logo is symmetrical across the vertical axis it is still the same logo.

    I was going to ask about the Colts, but yeah, I totally forgot about the Cowboys and the Saints.

    I can’t believe I never saw it before, but the Ravens right facing logo looks SO much better than the left facing counterpart. It’ll haunt me now.

    I was literally thinking about the NFL helmet logos this week, and wasn’t even sure of how to categorize them. Maybe for the sake of simplicity you could call the Baltimore and KC setups “Hybrid” since they tend to mix without completely deviating from the norm?

    I know I’m in the minority here, but the original Ravens helmet logo was horrible. The current logo, with th two distinct designs, is marginally better. That “B” when the helmet faces left has ALWAYS bothered me. Update the helmet logo (and drop the drop shadow on the unis) along with other minor tweaks, and I think the Ravens have the potential to have the best unis in the league (I know, I know, they’re purple Paul LOL)

    I’m with you…that was a terrible helmet decal.
    They should have went with the flying raven logo on the bucket:

    I’d like to see a script “Ravens” in Poe’s handwriting on the helmet.
    I know some of you think script is for college but this would be a good exception.

    Marcus, that original logo was terrible. the newer one is a compromise that I have grown to love, however, I would love to see a fauxback uni with stripes on the jersey and just the B on the helmet. The Ravens really haven’t had many uniform changes (except for all the pant colors), and I am not advocating a complete overhaul, but I would be interested in seeing a interpretation of a older uni.

    I agree with you about the original logo, Marcus. I think the current logo is WAY better. The left helmet logo mildly bothers me, but to me, it’s more of a fun quirk than an annoyance at this point.

    How would you update the helmet logo? I’ve seen renderings sans the “B” and it just looks naked.


    I think the current shield design with the “BR” against the Maryland flag would look pretty sweet as a helmet design. Put some wings on either side of as a callback to the original helmet and boom.

    I love the Ravens shield logo, but I think it works better as a secondary logo. I would keep everting as is!

    Looks to me like the Titans DO actually have different logos on each side of the helmet because of the beveling in the T. Obviously, still counts as being in the ‘mirror image’ category you put them in, but just was interesting to me

    The top bevel of the T is different too. The right ear side is white and the left ear side is darker

    I looked at some press photos on their website: you are correct – the shadow is on the right of the upright of the T on both sides.

    This topic reminds me of the “feather flags” flown by a local Toyota dealership:


    The lettering is only printed on/applied to one side, and the flag’s fabric is translucent. So even though only one side bears the info, you get the same message no matter which side you see, because all the letters and the logo are horizontally symmetrical and they’re displayed vertically.

    The shading on the beveling of the T in the Titans logo makes it, technically speaking, a “two distinct designs” logo like the Ravens & KC.

    That is, the darker shading of the bevel is on the left of the T in both the left-facing and right-facing helmet logos.

    Oh, yeah. Forgot you were a Niners fan, Paul. GO LIONS! (Even if they won’t be the best-dressed.)

    I REALLY want to say Go Lions, but they’re making it difficult while wearing their marshmallows uni.
    A large portion of Lions Twitter used this term in the comments when the team posted the announcement.
    And apparently they call the silver/blue/blue their blueberries uni.
    At least a much smaller amount of fans were asking for a white helmet to go full marshmallow. I don’t need them looking like a Tuesday night MACtion team.

    For the Lions, a white helmet with white jersey and pants (add a stripe or two please) would look pretty good. But both the blueberry and marshmallow looks are crap. Silver pants always, Lions!

    I serendipitously wrote Paul about this topic to gauge his feelings before the last AMA. I find the approach taken by KC & Baltimore to be incredibly jarring, although admittedly I don’t know what the answer would be outside of a wholesale logo redesign apart from removing the lettering.

    Interesting how both logos look better when facing left to right. Pennant ready. Sorry, Eagles.

    I was just thinking about how crazy busy this week has been with all of the articles posted. Certainly keeping you on your toes during this final stretch. No short timers disease affecting Brooklyn based journalist.

    If the Ravens got rid of the B on the helmet it would look 100x better. Having that pointy part on the B drives me crazy, even more so that it’s different on each side of the helmet.

    The Ravens’ severed bird head logo isn’t great, but I agree with others that it would be better if they totally dropped the B.

    The original winged B logo is really terrible, but I would rather see them lean into some type of B lettering on the helmet more in the vein of what Chicago and SF do as opposed to the actual bird.

    This is that classic Uni-Watch minutia that I’ve known and loved for so long. Long live Uni-Watch. to PL

    I have a few USFL pennants, and all but one show the right side of the helmet. The exception? The Invaders, whose thunderbolt-clutching hand would have been the left one, and Oakland was superstitious.

    I absolutely love uni-interesting stories like this. I similarly obsesses over silly details like the intricacies of helmet decals. This is why I love Uni Watch!

    My problem with the Ravens logo is the same one I have with their baseball neighbors: the cartoon bird. I felt it was a downgrade when the Orioles ditched the anthropomorphically correct bird to return to their cap-wearing classic logo—and like the original Dolphins logo, it wastes the chance to partially redeem itself with infinite regression. And a purple raven, which doesn’t exist in nature, and a B in script that doesn’t exist anywhere else in their typography is just, ahem, bird-brained. Make a truly fierce black avian and use purple like the non-prime time Seahawks use neon green: as a contrasting highlight.

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