The New England Patriots logo has seen subtle changes and three major changes since the team’s inception as an AFL franchise in 1960. Dating back to the Pats’ inaugural season as the Boston Patriots, one may remember the tricorne hat amid a white background. Not long after, Pat Patriot took fold and the helmet updated with the times before Flying Elvis debuted in 1993.
Or, did Flying Elvis make a cameo appearance a decade and a half earlier in 1979?
I’m here to tell you that a logo that looks eerily similar to Flying Elvis as we know him today took center stage in a proposed logo swap back in 1979, and what a story it was.
Origins of Proto-Elvis
The origins of this phantom logo goes back to a man named Micael Chamberlain, the son-in-law of former team owner Billy Sullivan. As I discussed briefly in the Patriots’ helmet history, but today, we’re going more in-depth into how Chamberlain really conceived the logo.
Chamberlain has admitted to the idea being his to change the logo because he felt the old logo was too difficult to market due to its complicated design. Some might find the logo being too complicated, but click this link to SportsLogos to see for yourself.
An argument can be made, however, for the original Pat Patriot logo, which debuted in 1960 and became the helmet logo shortly thereafter. Click the link if you dare, but the original Pat Patriot logo looks more like the zombie of a Minuteman than an actual alive and well Minuteman.
Creating and refining the logo itself, however, took a few years so it’s likely Chamberlain collaborated with NFL Creative Properties back in the mid-1970s.
The Halftime Vote
Chamberlain states there wasn’t supposed to be a fan vote at halftime in September 1979. When the fine-tuning was complete, Sullivan basically stated they were, “good to go” on the new logo a month or two prior to its scheduled unveiling. However, Sullivan had a change of heart, telling Chamberlain, “Let’s put it to a test vote with the fans.”
Chamberlain stated that he knew it was a losing battle right there, and that the new logo wasn’t going to fly with the fans. He stated prior to the vote that he, “felt like a lamb going to slaughter. They booed the hell out of that thing.”
Birth of Flying Elvis
Shortly before Bob Kraft bought the team in 1994, a logo change and complete uniform overhaul came about in 1993, which mentioned earlier is very similar to the Proto-Elvis the team tried to unveil fourteen years prior.
Chamberlain, in an interview with UniWatch back in 2011 stated there’s, “No question about it,” further saying, “the similarities were obvious.”
While one can never be so sure if NFL Creative Properties pulled out the design to create the new Flying Elvis look, one thing is definitely for certain: Creative Properties always keeps the original material of all its works, leading Chamberlain to believe, “maybe they just resurrected it and updated it.”
However, upon further investigation no one at NFL Creative Properties during the time remembers ever seeing the old, Proto-Elvis. However, they outsourced the job to a California artist named Steve Evenson. Evenson said that NFL Creative Properties did send them some creative briefs of the design, which can be seen here.
Something that really jumps out at me from the link is the top design, which kind of resembles the logo seen on the Tennessee Titans‘ helmet, so perhaps the proposed 1979 redesign even influenced more than a single helmet design. Is it possible a team that changed its identity in 1999 saw its own helmet origins in the 1970s?
And I can’t help but think the face on the second one down on the right-hand side resembles a young Bill Belichick.
Evenson’s intern at the time, however, has been credited with conceiving the original sketch behind Elvis. Loh also stated that NFL Creative Properties indeed showed them the 1979 proposed logo, adding that, “it was something the fans hated.” He also added that he loosely based his concept on the original logo as well.
So in the end, Flying Elvis is indeed related to Proto-Elvis, in a way, at least. Perhaps as a half-sibling, or something.
For more information you can check out this article.
It is very, very interesting to see how teams have used past prototypes to come up with new logos, uniforms, and identities. As I dive deeper into more unused looks, some of which are quite crazy and we should be thanking the Higher Powers That Be we didn’t have to see any of them take the field, you’re going to be in for a few shockers.
Yes, there is a lot of ground to cover, as each of the thirty-two NFL teams has a story to tell, and now, they’re going to all be brought into one database encyclopedia here at the Helmet and Jersey Stop. There’s so much more than just histories of current and existing logos of the present and past to cover; there’s a huge variety and what I’ve written about today and mentioned in this section are simply the starting points of a new season of concepts.
So, as the NFL kicks off its 100th season in 2019, I have 100-years’ worth of wild and crazy concepts to share with all my readers and I can’t wait to see what the next few months bring.