Rating the Super Bowl Logos: Part I

Partial credit for this idea must be given to the inimitable Lore Sjoberg’s Book Of Ratings, which despite showing its age and not being updated in a while, rates such important things as “Ways To Go Straight Up” and “Aspects of the ATM”, and will tell you, among other things, the clue hiding in plain sight that is the key to capturing Santa Claus and ruining Christmas in a sappy Christmas special. Because I take this sort of thing quite a bit more seriously than he does, and I’m not always quite so imaginative, don’t expect this to be quite so humorous as his entries, but do expect to find it informative and entertaining.

We have reached the end of an era. After 45 years, starting with Super Bowl XLV, the Super Bowl logo will follow the same basic template each year, changing only in the stadium and the Roman numerals. No longer will each Super Bowl have its own distinctive logo giving it its own personality, emphasizing each individual game as an event in its own right. Now every Super Bowl will have virtually the same logo as every other Super Bowl. On this momentous yet sad occasion, I felt it appropriate to look back on the corpus of Super Bowl logos and find out the best, the worst, the ordinary, and the extraordinary.

Super Bowl I: Yes, when the Super Bowl first started it wasn’t known as the Super Bowl, but as the “AFL-NFL Championship Game”. Even granting that, though, I love how this isn’t even a logo; the word “Game” is on the same line as “AFL vs. NFL”. It’s like they added the red and blue outlines to the league names just to spice it up a little, so that when people asked their friends to go to the game with them they’d ask “How do you do that, with the league names in white with colored outlines?” Seriously, I know it was the 60s, and this was probably intended as an exhibition or something (remember, “the AFL can’t compete with the NFL”), but if you’re billing it as a “World Championship Game”, surely you can come up with something better than this to promote it with! Grade: C-.

Super Bowl II: Wait, I thought I’d read that the game wasn’t known as the “Super Bowl” until the third or fourth iteration. Yet here we see the logo refer to it as the “Super Bowl” as early as the second. Although I wouldn’t be surprised if this logo was a retcon anyway; it’s incredibly generic to the point of maybe even being the same font as the first game’s logo, only all caps and with a bit more color. Massive points just for creating something that looks more like a logo than the last one, at least. Although if the first logo is a retcon too I’m tempted to drop it all the way to an F. Grade: C+.

Super Bowl III: Now things start getting interesting, at least a little. The logo has escaped out of the clutches of 60s-style fonts. It’s a lot bigger now, taking up two lines, and the words are red and blue without any outlines. It’s still very generic, which makes the move to two lines a bit head-scratching, and I could do without the stars that make it hard to read close-up, but overall, considering we’re decades away from true logos in the modern sense, a very commendable effort. Though I sense they were going for a patriotic motif, which would make a little more sense for the bicentennial or something. Grade: B-.

Super Bowl IV: A smaller version of the Super Bowl III logo, drained of all its color (it’s now just white with a dark yellow outline and shadow) and adopting an Old West font, which I’d expect for a Texas Super Bowl, but not one in New Orleans. Maybe the colors are supposed to match those of the Saints, but still. It somehow becomes more generic than the last one despite the motif. Props for the shadow representing a little more effort, but it seems that effort was taken away from any attempt at distinctiveness, or of making the game look important. Grade: C.

Super Bowl V: Yes, we’re officially in the 70s now. Now we get this red-and-blue stripe pattern that’s hard on the eyes, a nominee for “Gayest Super Bowl Logo Ever”. What’s worse is how atrocious the font is, like it was computer-generated or something. I’m supposed to take this seriously as the representation of the championship game of your newly merged league? Grade: D+.

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