Today we’re going to take a look at sports logos with hidden images and meanings. Is the list going to blow your mind? Probably not. Some of the “hidden” images are really just “clever.” And there will probably be a couple of logos that you have known about since forever, because you’re so smart. But unless you just don’t like sports logos at all—in which case, I’m going to be honest, it’s really weird that you’re even here—I promise that you will learn a few things and probably come away with a new respect for some logos with which you’ve been familiar for years.
Ready to start? Okay then. Let’s look at some sports logos with hidden images and meanings.
The Oregon O was cooked up by Nike in 2001, and despite the simplicity of the design it is actually packed with meaning. The inside of the O represents the track at Oregon's Hayward field and is an homage to Eugene's status as "Track Town USA." (U of O track coach Bill Bowerman wrote a book called Jogging in 1966, which popularized the activity in the United States.) Meanwhile, the outside of the O represents Autzen Stadium, where the Ducks play football.
(Read the official description here.)
30. Oregon Ducks
No, I'm not here to tell you that the Y in NY is also a hockey stick. I think you get that.
I am here to tell you that the I in Islanders points to the exact spot on the map of Long Island where the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is located—and I bet you didn't know that.
Of course, the Isles are moving to Brooklyn next year. And while Brooklyn is technically on Long Island, it is not on the current map. So expect the logo to be amended.
29. New York Islanders
You probably noticed how the IG in Big also make a 10. So that's not so much hidden as it is really cool. But how about the old Big Ten logo from back when there were actually 11 teams in the conference—did you ever notice the white 11 on either side of the T in Ten?
28. Big Ten
The Michigan Stags were team from the old WHA, the defunct hockey league that gave us the Oilers, Whalers (Hurricanes), Nordiques (Avalanche), and Jets (Coyotes). As you can see, their logo was, appropriately enough, a stag. But as you maybe didn't notice, the stag has three legs that form an M for Michigan.
Interestingly, right before they folded in 1975, the Stags moved to Baltimore and became the Baltimore Blades. They had a pretty cool logo as well.
27. Michigan Stags
Hopefully you realize this NHL team's logo is a musical note. The team, after all, is named after the "St. Louis blues"—genre of music, title of a famous song by W.C. Handy, title of an album by Nat King Cole, and the title of not one but two films. What's really interesting, though, is the fact that the Blue Note resembles a 64th note. And some speculate that this is to honor the founding of the city of St. Louis in 1764.
Of course, it's probably just a crackpot theory. But it's a good one that the club should officially adopt.
26. St. Louis Blues
The Canadiens iconic logo doesn't so much have a hidden meaning as it has a misunderstood meaning. The C everyone gets—it stands for Canadiens. But many people thing the H in the middle stands for "Habs," the team's nickname, which is derived from Les Habitants, who were the early French settlers of Quebec.
Unfortunately that's not the case at all. The H actually just stands for hockey.
25. Montreal Canadiens
While we're talking about Montreal, we might as well get the old Expos logo out of the way. As a kid I just thought it was some kind of french nonsense. As an adult I learned that it's actually a cursive M. That right there blew my mind, and felt stupid that I never realized it was an M. But then I learned there's more! That little red curly part on left forms an E, and the right part of the M in blue forms a B. So you've got M, E, and B, or Montreal Expos Baseball.
24. Montreal Expos
This one falls into the category of clever, not hidden. Because really, it's all right there in front of you. But just in case you need somebody to connect the dots...you see, Hofstra doesn't just have a single blue lion for their logo. They have a blue male lion with a white female lion inside. Because a "pride" is a group of lions. Get it? Hofstra Pride?
Okay, you get it. On to the next one.
23. Hoftra Pride
This one is pretty obvious, really. The cougar head logo of the Washington State Cougars is made up of a W, an S, and a C.
22. Washington State Cougars
I've never been a big fan of the Wizards logo because it's so busy. But ever since somebody pointed out the wizard's beard turns his torso into a W, I've had a newfound respect for it.
21. Washington Wizards
The Falcons have had the same basic logo concept since the team was founded in 1966. However, they tweaked it in 2003 to make the bird look more aggressive, and in doing so they also made the whole thing look more like an F.
20. Atlanta Falcons
There are three interesting things about the Steelers logo. First, it's basically just the logo for U.S. Steel, which they got permission to use. Second, the three colored stars were later determined to stand for coal, iron ore, and scrap steel—the ingredients for making steel.
The third thing? Well, you're going to love this, Pittsburgh. The idea for the Steelers to use the U.S. Steel logo came from Republic Steel...IN CLEVELAND!
19. Pittsburgh Steelers
Not to be outdone by the Washington State Cougars, the Eastern Washington Eagles also made their logo out of the letters of the school name.
Of course, it would look better if the letters were black, but that's...well, you know.
18. Eastern Washington Eagles
First of all, let me just point out to you youngsters out there that both the Astros and the Rockets are so-named in honor of their hometown's affiliation with NASA. Now, as for the Rockets logo, you've probably noticed that the left side of the R is in fact a rocket. But did you also notice that the ring around the bottom of the R forms an H for Houston?
Oh, you did? Well never mind then.
17. Houston Rockets
The NCAA went minimalist with for the College Football Playoff logo and wordmark, ("Hey, what is that font? Impact? Nice!") However, they did add one thoughtful touch: the laces on the ball. There are four of them, and they represent the four teams that will face off for the national title.
16. College Football Playoff
Is it a panther head, or a rendering of the rustic Minnesota wilderness? Wait, no, it's both! The stream is a mouth, the trees are stripes, the moon is an ear, and the North Star (subtle reference to the old team that moved to Dallas) is the eye.
Personally I've never liked this logo, clever as it may be, because I can't stand the Christmas colors. If they got rid of or minimized the red and emphasized the cream I think I could get on board.
15. Minnesota Wild
The NFL logo is nothing to write home to your design-loving mother about. However, the league did improve it a few years back by reducing the number of star from, like, a hundred (okay, it was 25) to eight, representing the number of divisions. And they also made the football in the middle look like the Vince Lombardi trophy.
(Here's the old logo in case you want to compare.)
14. NFL Logo
The Mavericks logo is way too busy. They need to ditch the triangle and either simplify or eliminate the wordmark at the bottom.
That said, the main feature of the log–the horse & basketball crest—is petty decent. And the highlight is the subtle M on the horse's forehead.
13. Dallas Mavericks
This one is subtle. See the line under the team name? It underlines win. Twins Wins.
(I think it's supposed to be ironic. The Twins hardly ever win.)
12. Minnesota Twins
The Diamondbacks used to have that stupid looking A logo. Fortunately they replaced it with this one, which uses a lower case D and a lower case b to make a snake's head with creepy red snake eyes. Big improvement.
11. Arizona Diamondbacks
There's are not hidden images here, nor are there any hidden meanings per se. But did you know there's a very good reason why the Mets are blue and orange, and that all the buildings in the New York skyline are real buildings? Here's the official description from the team's website:
“The circular Mets logo, designed by sports cartoonist Ray Gatto, was unveiled. It has gone virtually unchanged throughout the history of the club. The shape of the insignia, with its orange stitching, represents a baseball, and the bridge in the foreground symbolizes that the Mets, in bringing back the National League to New York, represent all five boroughs. It's not just a skyline in the background, but has a special meaning. At the left is a church spire, symbolic of Brooklyn, the borough of churches. The second building from the left is the Williamsburg Savings Bank, the tallest building in Brooklyn. Next is the Woolworth Building. After a general skyline view of midtown comes the Empire State Building. At the far right is the United Nations Building. The Mets' colors are Dodger blue and Giant orange, symbolic of the return of National League baseball to New York after the Dodgers and Giants moved to California. Blue and Orange are also the official colors of New York State.”Seriously, how cool is that?
10. New York Mets
This one is both subtle and awesome. Look closely and you'll see the letters U, A, P, and B in the lion's mane. That of course stands for University of Arkansas-Pine Bluff.
9. Arkansas Pine Bluff
You may know this one already, but we couldn't do a list like this without mentioning the classic old school Milwaukee Brewers logo. At first glance it's just a baseball glove with a ball in the middle. But look closely and you'll see the fingers form an M and the thumb together with the pocket and ball form a B.
The Brew Crew has used this as a throwback in recent years because everyone knows their actual uniforms are putrid. Don't be surprised if they go old school full-time in the near future, much like the Blue Jays did a couple years ago.
8. Milwaukee Brewers
Everyone loves that the Caps recently returned to their old school unis a couple years ago. However, their alternate logo really is awesome. The dome of the United States Capitol building turns the bald eagle into a W. It really is one of the best modern logos in sports.
7. Washington Capitals
This one is a masterpiece in the use of negative space. The first thing you see if the whale tale. The second thin you see if the W. However, after that, if you look hard enough, you see the H right there in the middle. What a classic.
6. Harford Whalers
First, the hidden meaning: the red on the tips of the bull's horns is blood, and not just any blood. It's the blood of the Bulls' opponents. Which is sweet.
Second, and more importantly, when you flip the Bulls logo upside down, it looks like a robot reading a book on a park bench. And once you see it, you can't un-see it.
5. Chicago Bulls
This isn't just a wordmark written in a whimsical Matisse-like font. The O, the U, the R, and the golden sun form a dude on a bike.
And yes, I know it's a dude because ladies don't compete in the Tour de France.
4. Tour de France
Now this one is good. I'm not going to tell you where the hidden image is, but I will give you a hint: giant phallic monument.
(Don't see it? Okay fine. Click here.)
3. George Washington Colonials
You could probably look at this one all day and not see it, but I'm still not going to tell you in case you want to figure it out.
Here's a hint, though: think geography.
And if that doesn't do it, click here.
2. Missouri Western State Griffons
I have no idea if the Spartan Gold Club is a real place that exists, or just some concept. Either way this is easily one of the most awesome sports logos of all time. It was designed by Richard Fonteneau, professional design genius.