By Jack Franks
Disclaimer: Andy Greeves is not an NFL fan.
Yet, amongst a plethora of soccer books under his name lies ‘The Helmet and Crests of the NFL’, a 112-page love letter to the visual glory of American Football’s elite, highlighting and showcasing some of the most identifiable and iconic crests in the world.
Sports logos serve as the epicenter for fans to converge and support their team through shared passion, storytelling, and a deep love for their NFL team.
Greeves’ masterfully woven journey through the history and world of NFL via it’s helmets and crests is must-have for any football fanatic looking to delve deeper—absorbing an all-encompassing guide to the history of team logos, from their initial inception to the modern-day insignia we see today.
If you’re a stats nerd, then you’re in luck. Detailed numbers, facts, trivia, most memorable games, star players, controversial moments, the evolution of the badge, and much more feature throughout. This book offers an illuminating insight into the evolution of NFL club logos, showcasing their changing designs and styles, along with their respective helmets.
For instance, you can learn intriguing details such as, “Why are the NY Giants called ‘The Big Blue Wrecking Men’?” In short, Helmets and Crests of the NFL is a treasure trove of information that any football fan would relish.
We spoke to the book’s author, Andy Greeves, about how he landed a project writing about a sport he had no real initial interest in and his favorite helmets and crests.
You’re not an NFL fan, but you took on this project and wrote a book about it. Why?
“I’ve worked for a publisher up in Edinburgh called Aspen Books for a number of years and I’ve always written football—as in association football—books for them. For example, I did a book called Football’s Greatest Rivalries last year.
“This was just one of those where Aspen approached me about possibly writing this NFL book. If it focused on the sport itself, I wouldn’t have had the knowledge to be able to take the project on. But I was really interested when they explained the concept behind it, the helmets and the crests. I’m a massive soccer shirt collector, and I’ve always had an interest in the design element of both the shirts and the crests on them. So, this NFL project really appealed to me from that perspective.
“Also, I’m a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur, and there’s the NFL link with the matches hosted there. In the stadium, they have—or certainly, had—a big wall in the souvenir shop with hats belonging to the 32 NFL team hats with the logos on them. I remember seeing that several years ago and being captivated by how brightly colored they were and, specifically, with the logo designs. That stuck with me.
“So, when this project was on the table, I knew I could learn a lot about the NFL but also get more into something that I’ve always been curious about… the crests and the team colors as much as the actual sport itself.”
Have you learned more about the NFL as a sport as a whole?
“Yes, I’ve learned the most about the history of the game, the different teams, their record in the Super Bowl etc. What I’ve particularly enjoyed learning about is the different teams’ place within their communities and also in popular culture.
“With my love of soccer, it was of course impossible not to start making comparisons between NFL and Premier League teams. You’ve got two teams like the Dallas Cowboys and Manchester United for example… arguably the two biggest names in their respective sports but that haven’t won the Super Bowl or Premier League title for some time. Then there are teams that have wealthy owners and have experienced success in more recent times… such as the Seattle Seahawks and Manchester City.
“And as something of a self-deprecating Tottenham Hotspur fan, I think of the times in recent decades when we have come close to winning major trophies but missed out. So, I can appreciate the pain Buffalo Bills fans must have experienced, reaching four consecutive Super Bowls in the 1990s but losing all four, as a result.”
What’s your favorite helmet or crest in the book?
“No matter the sport, I’ve always liked team crests that manage to be simple but eye-catching all at the same time. In the Premier League, I think the Nottingham Forest crest is the ultimate example of that. You see that red tree… it’s Sherwood Forest, it’s the River Trent, it’s Nottingham Forest. It’s a crest that dates back to the mid-1970s but it honestly could have been designed today. It’s absolutely timeless.
“And there are a number of NFL crests like that. I instantly think of the single star on the Dallas Cowboys helmet, representing the ‘Lone Star State’ of Texas. Perfect. And the ‘NY’ of the New York Giants. That ‘NY’ is just iconic.
“Obviously, it makes me think about the Yankees’ monogram… surely the most famous sporting logo in the world. And the wishbone ‘C’ of the Chicago Bears is hugely iconic. It has huge similarities with the Cincinnati Red Stockings logo of course. At the other end of the scale, I love the colors and the almost ‘animated’ feel of the Titans logo. It’s amazing.
“When it comes to helmets, you have to give a nod to the Los Angeles Rams for being the first team to introduce a logo to a helmet in 1948. They were mocked for their ram’s horn logo on the side at the time, but of course every team – bar the Cleveland Browns – eventually brought a logo to their own helmet. Design-wise, I think the wings on the Eagles’ helmet and the lightning bolt on the Chargers’ helmet are particularly brilliant!”
Have you started watching the NFL since you produced the book?
“Yeah, although I’m still getting my head around the game’s rules.
“It’s definitely on my bucket list to attend an NFL game, hopefully for next year’s London Games, which would obviously be very special for me to watch at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium being a Spurs fan.
“I actually edit Fulham’s matchday programme, and of course the owner of Fulham, Shahid Khan, is also the owner of the Jacksonville Jaguars. So, if I were to start supporting one of the 32 teams, it would probably be the ‘Jags’.
There’s a lot of crossover here. It’s almost poetic how you’ve got the links with Tottenham and Fulham and their connection to the NFL.
“Yes, definitely I think I have had my NFL interest roused by Spurs hosting NFL matches and Fulham having close associations with the Jags.
“What amazed me writing this book too was how many logos I recognized from the outset, despite never having an interest in the NFL. I can think back to my childhood and I’d be watching MTV, and there were Dr Dre, Ice Cube, etc. wearing the pirate logo of the Raiders. And the film, ‘Ace Ventura: Pet Detective’ which centered around the abduction of the Miami Dolphins mascot.
“Before starting researching and writing the book, I looked at each one of the 32 logos and I pretty much identified every one.”
If you could sum up the book for sports fans in general, what would you say?
“I hope this book would interest someone like myself, with an initial interest in NFL, right through to ‘proper’ fans of the support.
“In this book, you have a graphic representation of each team’s crest evolution, you’ve got an image of their helmet and you’ve got the breakdown of the honors they’ve won. Then, you have a write-up on each team.
“I like to think I’ve covered the salient things you’d need to know about the team on the pitch but that I’ve also captured a bit about the culture behind each team as well.”
You can buy ‘The Helmets and Crests of The NFL’ here.