By RJ Ciancio Director of National Arena League Coverage
The number ten Arena Football League (AFL) logo of all time belongs to the first of two entries from Michigan. Lasting from the inception of the Grand Rapids Rampage in 1998 until the team’s demise in 2008 I found this logo very fun yet unique. In my time watching sports this is the only professional football team to use a rhino as the logo. When I think the word “rampage”, I think the word “rage”. I associate red with rage and appetly, so did the logo design team. The white horns make it so I’m not overwhelmed with an ocean of red. I’m also happy Grand Rapids didn’t go with the now overused red and black color scheme. If we ever see Grand Rapids get another indoor or arena team I hope they bring back this iconic look.
In the number nine slot I have my first of two, one year AFL logos: The 2010 Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz. The smug look on the dog is sly yet intimidating. This is amplified when you see the wordmark has been clawed showing the ruthlessness of this animal. The brown part of the logo was a near guarantee but I didn’t think silver would look so slick. You can still get the classic dog collar vibe but the sparkle on the bottom spike shows that this is one rich dog and this is not just a collar but also an expensive necklace. Add the black outline to help give the glassic Oakland/Los Angeles Raiders vibe and you have one of the best logos the league has yet seen. To bad it was only in use for the 2010 season. However, there is a sliver of hope to see this logo back in action as the team trademark is once again active and, it seems like the team might join Champions Indoor Football (via the team Facebook page messaging).
The number eight logo belongs to the Spokane Shock, who used this look from 2010 through 2013 before changing logos and eventually jumping to the Indoor Football League (IFL) and rebranding of the Spokane Empire. The original Shock logo is bright orange, navy blue and a hint of a mango-esque yellow. The football in the middle is usually something I’m not a huge fan of, but because it’s navy blue and supporting the bright orange explosions of the edges, it works. This color scheme defines the AFL: flashy, loud, electric, explosive and fun.
The number seven best AFL logo of all time goes tot the Alabama Vipers in 2010. This is the second of one year teams to make the list (the other being the Oklahoma City Yard Dawgz). I’ve been a fan of the kelly green and black for a long time, and the sight of a viper suffocating a football while hissing at you with its red eyes can strike fear into opponents. The team would fold after its lone AFL season, but the look that it brought with its logo is still slick.
At the number six spot I have the iconic San Jose Sabercats logo that represented the team from its inception in 1995to it’s folding in 2015. This logo is like a fine wine; it’s gotten better over time. For some context this is the same season the Memphis Pharaohs unveiled their simple “P” shaped pyramid logo. I like the kelly green diamond-shaped shield. The tan sabercat is color I don’t normally see this color in a color scheme and I’m happily surprised it works so well. I hope the IFL revives the team or any new franchise brings back this color scheme.
At the number five spot is the oldest entry and the logo belonged to the Detroit Drive from 1998-1993, lasting the team’s entire existence. I am a sucker for the orange and sky blue combination. Although the logo doesn’t scream “drive” without the wordmark I can’t deny the clean and colorful look is a timeless one that I would like to see the AFL bring back if Detroit ever gets another team.
In the number four spot is the Chicago Rush logo that lasted from 2001-2012.I think using the classic navy blue that the old Bears color scheme use is a great piece of homage to the sport’s history in the Windy City. I think the grey to help make the font look 3D. And though the team would later changing the grey to red in 2013. However, that logo can’t hold a candle to this classic.
New Orleans Voodoo (2004-2008, 2011-2015) At number three we have the New Orleans Voodoo logo used from 2004-2008 and 2011-2015. Let’s start with skull. Normally skulls are overplayed in sports but the sunglasses look really good. The red bones making the “V” is in great contrast to the purple (which went from a dark to royal color when the team returned in 2011) and black hat with a small red highlight is the cherry on top of the best logo the city has ever seen.
At number two we have the St. Louis Stampede logo used from 1995-1996. The black three horse heads have menacing vibe to them as the red eyes have a semi-demonic look to them. Add the yellow and red flames behind them any sane human would give that posse a right of way at an intersection. The St. Louis Arch is a great way to work an iconic landmark into the logo. With the circle around the “STL” looking like a branding iron about to be used it’s lear a lot of thought went into this design. It’s also worth noting that my co-host of the Indoor Football Experience (airing on afnn.net Monday’s ad 9:15 Eastern Standard Time), Coach Lin Hart Jr. was an equipment manager for the team, it’s nearly impossible to like any other AFL logo more.
My favorite AFL logo of all-time goes to the short-lived Portland Thunder logo used from 2014-2015. We have a shield with a metallic border, inside of that a matted blue. A sky blue and white around the hammer’s handle. On the head of the hammer are the letters “PDX” etched into it give a subtle reminder what city the Thunder represented. Add some red trim, metallic and sky blue lettering and you have the best logo in AFL history.