As a non-native Philadelphian (but one who has lived in the city for decades), it is with some trepidation that I embark on a discussion of the logo of the locally beloved Eagles,so hear me on dis – dis is my shot at “reverential,” yo.
The Eagles are one of the original NFL teams, dating to 1933, and as such have remained conservative in their image changes, using basically only two logos in their history, the flying eagle with a football clutched in its claws, and the so-called “eagle head.” (And please, behind the first part of that sentence above, don’t start with all that Pottsville Maroons nonsense, and so forth. The league licenses merchandise related to the “originals,” and all those sweatshirts read “1933.”) However, despite the minor changes in their original logo (the ball-carrying eagle, introduced in 1948), and no changes in their second official logo (the eagle’s head), the Eagles’ logo is related to a liberal tradition. More than one observer sees their flying eagle as derivative from the Blue Eagle of the New Deal stimulus programs.
Between 1933 and 1948, apparently, the Eagles’ logo was, in some sense, their gold and powder blue uniform, which was related to the “ancient” Frankford Yellow Jacket uniform, and employed the “official” colors of Philadelphia. In recent years, this uniform has surfaced in “throwback uniform games” to mixed reviews and the amazement of blog commenters who apparently can’t “get their heads around” the notion of bright colors prior to 1980.
Anyhow, the Eagles officially adopted the flying eagle with a stolen football in 1948 and promptly won a couple of league championships, no doubt forestalling changes in the logo for quite a while. They also changed their team colors to Kelly green and silver. Now, there are some niceties about the flying eagle that strike a born Pittsburgher (me) as not worth discussing, but (sigh) I will – sometimes the Eagle faced right, sometimes it faced left, sometimes the eagle’s bill was colored gold, sometimes the design looked like a ’69 GTO as opposed to a ’48 Ford, and so forth – but finally, in 1996, the official logo was changed to the currently familiar, fierce-looking eagle’s head. At the same time, the team colors went from Kelly green and silver to “midnight green,” silver, and black, and that annoyed the cheesesteaks out of the older folks who talk about Chuck Bednarik’s mangled fingers.
The addition of black as an official team color allowed marketing of some black Eagles jerseys, worn once in a blue moon by the players, to those boobs who cite that boob who did a study that showed that changing to black uniforms correlated to winning…and obviously ignored much of the Oakland Raiders’ recent history. (Somebody needs to study the effect of black uniforms over time, huh?)
Anyhow, none of this takes into account the bootleg logos, such as the one on the hat I own, rescued from a friend’s garage when he was moving. It dates to the ’81 and involves a “Philadelphia Eagle” about the size of a Philadelphia pigeon against the background of a football which he may or may not be attempting to carry. It’s a great, cheap hat, but I say the ball drags the bird to the ground with a thud…much as Michael Vick has been hitting the turf this season.