‘The Flying Elvis’: Why Fans Boycotted the Patriots Logo

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Julian Edelman of the New England Patriots warms up

In this century, the New England Patriots are synonymous with excellence in the NFL. They haven’t always been at the top, however. The team’s long history predates its success in the past 20 years. There were years of toil and struggle before.

The Patriots also have a long history with the team logo. It’s changed over the years as New England shakes things up for a new look every so often. Here’s a look at the Patriots’ history, their most famous logo, and the fans’ reception to the big changes. 

The Patriots’ storied history 

The team’s history dates back to the 1960s, long before Bill Belichick or Tom Brady roamed the sidelines. The Patriots first kicked off as part of the American Football League in 1960, participating in the league’s first-ever game. Originally playing in Boston, the team eventually settled in Foxboro, Massachusetts, 25 miles south of Beantown. 

A group of area sportswriters selected the team’s name. It speaks to New England’s heritage and involvement in the Revolutionary War. The Patriots’ logos have also reflected this throughout history. 

The history of the Patriots logo compiled a detailed history of the team’s logos throughout the years. Below is a brief summary of the three major visuals the team has used: 

  • 1960, tri-corner hat: This first logo was selected through a fan contest. 
  • 1961, Pat Patriot: During the team’s early years, a Boston Globe cartoonist drew what looked like a Revolutionary War soldier in gameday programs. The team’s then-owner, Billy Sullivan, liked it so much the team adopted it.
  • 1993-99, Flying Elvis: In the early ’90s, the Patriots sought to change the logo yet again. This time they adopted a picture of a Revolutionary War-type figure wearing a hat that received the nickname “Flying Elvis.” 

According to the team’s website, the shift to Flying Elvis also allowed the team to adopt some uniform changes: “After the 1993 season, the seemingly hard-to-read red numbers on the royal blue jerseys were changed to white numbers outlined in red.  The blue jerseys also had white numbers outlined in red on the shoulders and the new logo on the sleeves.”

The team currently uses royal blue, red, silver and white as its colors while still displaying the Pat Patriot logo. Occasionally, the team wears the old Pat Patriot red uniforms as alternates. 

Fan reception to the Patriots’ logo changes

In the late ’70s, the Patriots tried to introduce a new logo known as “Super Patriot,” a character representing a hybrid of Pat Patriot and a superhero like Captain America or Superman. Fans were not happy with the change.

The Patriots marketing director at the time, Miceal Chamberlain, designed the logo. After the logo was completed, the team decided to put it to a vote at halftime: Super Patriot versus Pat Patriot. Chamberlain recounted the experience to ESPN, as the vote wasn’t even close

“And what could I do? I knew it was a losing battle at that point. So we went ahead with it, and we had this halftime vote. I was standing right in the owner’s box, and it was obvious what was going to happen. I felt like a young lamb going to slaughter. They booed the hell out of that thing.”

While the fans were not pleased with the initial attempt to replace Pat Patriot, the Flying Elvis logo has had more staying power. It’s remained in use ever since its introduction.