The Daily Helmet: The Baltimore Ravens Logo: Nike Logos And To “B” Or Not to “B”


In 1996 the Baltimore Ravens played their inaugural season a new franchise. Their previous nickname, logos and records all left behind in Cleveland as part of a lawsuit settlement with the city of Cleveland. The city claimed that the Browns, more specifically Art Modell had broken his lease agreement and tried to persuade the courts to order the team to stay in Cleveland for the length of the lease. Instead of years of litigation, the NFL and Modell agreed to leave the Browns name, logos and records in Cleveland and awarded them a guarantee of an expansion franchise.

With the new city came a new name, colors and logo for the franchise. After a nickname contest the team choose the Ravens, after the famous literary work of Edgar Allan Poe, who lived in the city for parts of his career and died and is buried in Baltimore. The nickname also stuck with the bird theme of their sports teams, joining the Orioles of Major League Baseball. The colors they picked were black, gold and purple. The first logo the Ravens sported on their helmet was the “Flying B Logo”. The logo was designed by Frederick E. Bouchat who is said to have faxed his drawing of his logo design to the Maryland Stadium Authority, asking them in exchange for use of the logo he would get a letter of recognition and a team helmet. Well, as it happens, the new Ravens logo that was unveiled in June of 1996 suspiciously looked a lot like Bouchat’s design and judging from his multiple lawsuits he apparently did not receive his requested letter and helmet. Poor guy. He did end up winning the initial lawsuit and the Ravens were forced to change their logo. Unfortunately, he was not awarded any royalties by the jury, because they were not convinced the team profited from the logo. Okay. He later sued again for some money from his logo being used in archival footage and other media outlets, but the courts said that was in fair use and that ended that. I hope he at least gets credit in his design portfolio.

After all that the Ravens changed to a new logo in 1999.

The new logo featured a fierce red-eyed Raven with a stylized letter “B” on his head. The B, to me ruins the whole logo. It is not really necessary and possibly was added to just crowbar in the Nike logo. What do I mean? Take a look. I mean, it isn’t exactly the same, but it is pretty close. To further my possibly flimsy case, the Ravens uniforms were outfitted by Starter in 1997 and 1998. In 1999 when they switched to the new logo they were outfitted by, you guessed it, Nike. Maybe it is just a unrelated design element or maybe it is known to be the Nike swoosh and I somehow missed it, either way this is the second case of Nike hiding their logo in seemingly plain sight on an NFL uniform. The other famously being the Broncos 1997 redesign and their Nike swoosh like pants stripe. I’d say this one is even more blatant than that.

I would like the whole Ravens look better if they only wore striped pants and got rid of the B on their helmet. Purple and black are pretty good colors and they have a lot of options. I even a few years ago quickly removed the “B” from the logo and I think it looks better even without any further elements to enhance the spot where the B used to be.

So what do you think? To “B” Or Not To “B”?