The Arizona Cardinals are one of the oldest teams in the NFL, dating back to the league’s inaugural football season in 1920. A lot has changed in the game of football since then, and the Cardinals’ team is no different. Not only has the team made many changes and many locations changes over the years, so have their primary logo! Let’s take a look at how the Arizona Cardinals’ primary logo has evolved with their distinctive cardinal logo and how it came to be what is known today.
To begin our search into the Arizona Cardinals logo history, we have to start in the city of Chicago. In 1898, Chicago building contractor Chris O'Brien established an amateur athletic club football team named the Morgan Athletic Club. In 1901 he bought for the team used the faded maroon “University of Chicago” jerseys that the faded color was described as “Cardinal red,” referring to the attire of the Catholic Cardinals. The team was renamed to be known as the Chicago Cardinals by the time the NFL was created in 1920, the Cardinal name still stands today.
The original Cardinals’ logo known as the wishbone logo, which consisted of one small “c” inside of a larger “C.” The logo was retired after 14 years. In 1944, there was a player shortage caused by World War II, the Cardinals and Pittsburgh Steelers merged for one year and were known as the "Card-Pitt", or derisively as the "Carpets" as they were winless that season.
In 1947, the Chicago Cardinals decided it was time to get more creative with their logo and changed to a cardinal (a bird this time) perched on a football, making for a quite literal representation of the nickname for a logo.
By the late 1950s, things were not looking good for the Chicago Cardinals. Lack of team success was helping cross-town rival the Chicago Bears gain most of the football popularity in the city of Chicago, and owner Violet Wolfner began to look into relocation options. After deliberation, the team eventually moved to St. Louis and to become the second professional Cardinals team in the city, with the baseball team being the first. Along with this came a brand-new logo in 1960, changing into a cardinal bird in great physical condition carrying a football under the famous St. Louis Gateway Arch, incorporating the team’s name and city recognition all into one logo.
However, this would only last for less than a decade, and the St. Louis Cardinals worked with the Verlander Design company to create a new logo for the remainder of the time the team was in the city. They shifted from the cartoonish cardinal they previously had in favor of just the head of a cardinal facing to the right in 1970, resembling the same logo the cardinals have today.
The Cardinals would stay in St. Louis for the next 17 years, but after only three playoff seasons in their almost three decades of football, then-owner Bill Bidwill decided to move the team west.
In 1988, the Phoenix Cardinals came to be and decided to keep the St. Louis logo despite the move to Phoenix. The cardinal head was only slightly modified upon arrival in Phoenix, just darkening the red color of the bird.
The Phoenix Cardinals did not last for long (only five years), but that didn’t constitute an out of state move. Owner Bill Bidwill decided to change the team name to the Arizona Cardinals in 1994, and the rest is history as we know it. The team remained with the same name and location, and the differences in their logo have been fairly the same as well. Keeping the same cardinal head as before, there were no real differences until 2005.
It was then the team decided to do a major version of the cardinal design, sharpening the different colors, modernizing the cardinal with a sleek look and giving the cardinal a new bit of an attitude. This bolder and aggressive logo is now what we look to as the current primary logo, making it the incredible logo we know and love today!
The Arizona Cardinals have a rich and classic tradition when it comes to their logo history. One of the original NFL teams dating back to the 1920’s, the Cardinals primary logo has come a long way from the early days in Chicago. Don't forget to check out the Arizona Cardinals alternate logos set and wordmark logos set, again excellent designs and colors for each logo group. Now the Cardinals history will continue with the heat and desert being their home of homes of today.
Sports Logo History is a community of sports logo enthusiast who enjoys the history of each team’s logo history. Sports Logo History has primary logos, alternate logos, wordmark logos or concept logos from the NFL, NBA, MLB, MLS, NHL, Premier League, WNBA, CFL, NCAA, ABA, USFL, AAF, and XFL.
Our partner site is Sports Team History takes a look at the history of each and every professional sports team.