The Pittsburgh Steelers are a professional football team that competes in the National Football League as a member of the American Football Conference North division. Its history is traced back to the regional sports club J.P. Rooneys (the Hope-Harvey Football Club and the Majestic Radios in the past), founded by Art Rooney in 1921.
Though football was extremely popular in Pittsburgh, the blue law prohibited any athletic competitions on Sunday. Since the city officials were going to cancel this law in the fall of 1933, Art Rooney applied for a franchise with the NFL. His request was granted on May 19, 1933, after paying a $ 2,500 entry fee. So J.P. Rooneys joined the League as the Pittsburgh Pirates. The name was taken from the local baseball team.
In 1940, the club and the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette held a name-the-team contest. The group headed by Joe Bach, a former Pirates coach, selected “Steelers” from other entries, which was later approved by Art Rooney. This name was an homage to Pittsburgh’s largest industry of producing steel. Each winner (twenty-one persons) received a prize: $ 5 and annual access to all regular-season home games.
World War II made it impossible to fill the roster, so the Pittsburgh Steelers merged with other franchises. In 1943, they consolidated with the Philadelphia Eagles to form the Phil-Pitt Eagles, widely known as the Steagles. In 1944, the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Chicago Cardinals founded the Card-Pitt, nicknamed the Carpets or Car-Pitts. The franchise returned to its name in 1945.
It is believed that the Rooney family has held a controlling interest in the club for its entire history. Indeed, it was founded and owned by Art Rooney for a long period, since 1988 the club belonged to Dan Rooney, his son, since 2017 Art Rooney II, his grandson owns the club. Actually, in December 1941, Art Rooney sold the Steelers to the New York businessman Alexis Thompson for $ 160,000. Then Art Rooney bought 50% interest in Philadelphia Eagles owned by Bert Bell. Thompson, Bell, and Rooney divided the drafted players between two clubs.
In January 1941, Alexis Thompson renamed the Iron Men franchise and decided to relocate it to New York. Of course, Art Rooney was against this decision, so he offered to make an exchange. On April 3, 1941, they made a deal: the Eagles, led by Art Rooney and Bert Bell, went to Pittsburgh to become the Steelers, while the Iron Men, owned by Alexis Thompson, moved to Philadelphia as the Eagles. Although the Pittsburgh club played as the Steelers, in the early years, it was called the Philadelphia Eagles Football Club, Inc. Since all these events took place in the offseason and the Steelers never missed a game in Pittsburgh, the NFL considers the Steelers sports history unbroken.
Meaning and History
The Pittsburgh Steelers logo boasts an incredibly exciting history intertwined with the history of the club itself. From 1933 to 1944, the team changed its name several times, which led to logo alteration. In the late period of its history, the name “Pittsburgh Steelers” did not change, but the Steelers logo was updated five times. Almost every logo included black and gold, the official colors of the franchise. This color palette was borrowed from the black-and-gold triband flag of Pittsburgh.
1933 – 1939
The debut Pittsburgh Pirates logo was the city’s coat of arms. It looked like an elaborate heraldic shield in the form of an “extended skin” with a triple-towered castle in the upper part. The shield also contained three golden bezants bearing eagles rising with wings. These were the symbolic elements from the Great Seal of the United States that signified magnanimity, dominance, and power. The middle of the shield was trimmed with a wide horizontal stripe with a blue-and-white checkerboard pattern. The background was black.
1940 – 1942
After changing its name to the Pittsburgh Steelers, the club had to modify its logo. The new Steelers logo had an ellipse shape to resemble an American football. The emblem featured steel-manufacturing plants with smoking pipes, a casting house, and a steelworker. The images were fuzzy and sketchy. The ellipse was trimmed with a white border, containing black-scripted wordmark. The capitalized “Pittsburgh Steelers” and “Football Club” lettering was placed in the upper and lower parts, respectively.
In 1943, the team was merged with the Philadelphia Eagles and called the Phil-Pitt Eagles. It was the first time when the franchise altered its color palette, abandoning the gold color. The 1943 logo depicted a black eagle flapping his wings with a black helmet in its claws. The inner contours were outlined with uneven white lines. The depressing palette and the image conveyed the heavy-hearted mood of World War II.
In 1944, another merger took place. After joining the Chicago Cardinals, the Pittsburgh Steelers franchise was named Card-Pitt. The new name was the key element of the new logo, which featured a dark red-scripted “Card-Pitt” on a white background. The capitalized words were written in bold antique font with wide perpendicular serifs at the ends of all characters except “C.”
1945 – 1961
In 1945, the club went solo again. It returned its former name “Pittsburgh Steelers” and the 1940-1942 logo. The Pittsburgh Steelers logo contained a geometric ball-shaped figure combining the themes of football and the Pittsburgh steel-producing industry.
1962 – 1968
The next logo was introduced in 1962. The complicated composition was replaced with a steelworker punting a football. The Pittsburgh Steelers logo featured a cartoonish steelworker dressed in a building uniform: boots, a shirt, a jumpsuit, and a protective helmet. A smiling character stood on a bent leg, balancing on a steel I-beam with hands driven apart. His second leg was stretched forward to beat the football. The yellow-golden image was trimmed with black contour.
1969 – 2001
In 1969, the Cleveland-based company Republic Steel suggested the Pittsburgh Steelers use the American Iron and Steel Institute logo as their emblem. It was designed by the Pittsburgh-based U.S. Steel company and initially contained its name, but the franchise owners did their best to obtain permission from AISI to add “ers” to “Steel.” The inscription was placed in the center-left. On the right, there were three four-pointed astroid stars – hypocycloids (yellow, blue, and red) in the form of curved rhombuses with sharp angles. They meant steel would shine on hard work and leisure time and broaden the opportunities given by the world around them. All elements were taken in a silver ring.
2002 – present
The 2002 Pittsburgh Steelers logo remains almost the same: the colors are more saturated now, and a dark gray ring is outlined with a black contour. The Astroids represent the raw materials used in steel production: bright yellow (coal), red (iron ore), and blue (scrap metal). These are the standard designations in the steel-manufacturing industry. The Astroid logo has proved to be the brightest one, as its design was influenced by the city of Pittsburgh itself, widely known for plenty of its steel mills.