Baltimore Ravens is a professional American football team that has been playing in National Football League since 1996. It was established by Arthur Bertram (Art) Modell, the owner of Cleveland Browns for 35 years. Then he encountered financial difficulties: Cleveland authorities refused to pay for the stadium reconstruction.
Art Modell announced on November 6, 1995, his intention to relocate the team to Baltimore, where they promised him yearly operating subsidy of $25 million. Despite the controversy, the matter was settled: the club Cleveland Browns remained at home along with the uniform and awards. But Art Modell retained the current contracts with the players and got a new franchise. That’s how Baltimore got a football team in NFL – for the first time in 13 years since Baltimore Colts moved to Indianapolis.
Arthur Bertram forfeited his right for Browns, and he couldn’t buy the nickname Colts. Nickname Ravens was chosen by competition and announced on March 29, 1996. The initial list consisted of more than 100 nicknames. Organizers cut it to 17 and the representatives of a focus group – to 6. People who participated in a phone survey preferred three options: Ravens, Americans, and Marauders. After the announcement of a shortlist, Baltimore Sun newspaper ran a fan contest: more than 21000 of 33000 people voted for Ravens. This nickname refers to the similarly named poem by Edgar Allan Poe, who’s buried in Baltimore.
Due to continual financial hardships for the organization, the NFL directed Art Modell to initiate the sale of his franchise. On March 27, 2000, NFL owners approved the sale of 49% of the Ravens to Steve Bisciotti, who already had a small share. On April 9, 2004, the NFL approved a businessman’s purchase of the majority stake in the club. The previous club owner kept 1% of the shares and continued working at headquarters as a consultant.
Meaning and History
Baltimore Ravens has had two logos since 1996. They had to change the first one under court decision because of copyright infringement. The plaintiff was Frederick Bouchat, an amateur artist in Maryland. He submitted his design of the winged shield to the Maryland Stadium Authority by fax before the football club’s opening. He asked for a helmet with an autograph in exchange for the design. On June 5, 1996, the club presented a similar logo; however, the designer’s request wasn’t executed. Legal proceedings lasted for over ten years. The court held that Baltimore Ravens must pay the rights holder $100 per each use of this image during their future games in NFL.
1996 – 1998
The first Baltimore Ravens logo is an infamous Flying B. According to the management of Baltimore Ravens, it was made independently of Frederick Bouchat. The central element is a shield that honors Baltimore’s heraldry. It’s triangular and pointed, which is typical for Old French heraldic traditions of XIII-XIV centuries. It’s painted in official team colors: purple, black, and gold metallic.
There is a capital letter “B” (stands for “Baltimore”) with three squiggles of different lengths in the middle of the shield. It’s framed by the word “Ravens” overhead and a cross bottony underneath. This cross bottony comes from runic markings and relates to early western European heraldic art. This emblem features raven wings outspread from a shield.
1999 – present
The second version of the Baltimore Ravens logo was unveiled in 1998. Fans of Baltimore Ravens chose it: Baltimore Sun newspaper ran a poll showing three designs for a new logo. Football team halted from the heraldic format and preferred the Denver Broncos style. The new Baltimore Ravens emblem features the profile of a raven’s head. Identity colors are the same, but black color is used only for the borders. The letter “B” with one squiggle, is superimposed on the left side of the raven’s head. The club owner Art Modell insisted on its presence himself.