Friday, February 22, 2013

Volume 8, Number 2: Applying My Talents to South Beach: My Concept for the Miami Dolphins' Logo and Uniforms

A few weeks ago, I submitted an entry to Uni-Watch's Redesign the Browns contest. My entry into that contest didn't get published on, but hey, you can't win them all.

Last week, they announced another contest, this time to create a logo and uniform for the Miami Dolphins. The owner of that team, Stephen Ross, had announced that they would unveil a new logo before this year's NFL Draft.*

Anyway, what you see before you is my entry into the Redesign the Dolphins contest.  (Click on the graphic below to see a larger version of it.)

And now, please let me indulge in a detailed explanation of what I did and why I did it:

The logo: I made a number of tweaks to the current (1997-2012) logo, making it look fresh, yet still recognizable and consistent with previous Dolphins logos.
  • I took the sunburst and stretched and skewed it (not to mention that I changed the colors to be consistent with the color scheme the Dolphins used in the 1970s).
  • I also rotated the leaping dolphin to make it look like it's at the height of its leap (and as a bonus, it now looks like it's charging like a speeding sports car).
  • I also tweaked a very small detail: Take a closer look at the helmet on my leaping dolphin. It has a repeat of the logo on it, not an "M". I've always thought the reason they went with that "M" in the 1960s was that, at that time, it was too darn difficult to draw a dolphin inside the helmet on the dolphin. I don't know of any Miami-based football teams that used an "M" on their helmets; otherwise, a historical context like that would have made a valid excuse. But with today's computer technology, there's no excuse for that cheesy "M". Bottom line, for the sake of solidarity, I want that dolphin wearing the same helmet that the players themselves wear.
Below is a graphic showing the current logo side by side with the one I ended up with.

The color scheme: I used the '70s aqua/orange color scheme (the hue of aqua in my design was also used in '91-96 when Jimmy Johnson was the Dolphins' head coach). Why?  It goes back to the time of the team's greatest successes to date.  In the 1970s, the Dolphins went to the playoffs seven times, including both of their Super Bowl victories. The 'Fins have not won a Super Bowl since 1973, and have not even been in the AFC Championship since 1992, so they might as well use the aqua they used at both those times. Also, navy blue is out. It should have been excised from the Dolphins' unis after their atrocious 2007 season--the one where they were a hashmark away from 0-16**. (I even took it out of the leaping dolphin--in its place is the darker aqua the Dolphins have been using in recent years, because I however much I wanted to ditch the navy blue, I still didn't want to lose any of the shading or the facial expression we have on the 1997-2012 leaping dolphin.)

The wordmark/numerals: Miami and Art Deco are so strongly associated with each other (especially in Miami Beach and South Beach), and yet no Miami-based major sports team uses Art Deco anywhere in their uniforms. I decided it was time to end that with this concept.  The wordmark, numerals and NOBs have their roots in this Art Deco-inspired font that I found on Besides, cursive wordmarks like the one the 'Fins*** have used since 1997 are better suited for baseball anyway. Heck, the one they used in the '80s looks like something from the Lingerie Football League.

Other uniform changes: The '70s aqua hue also returns to the pants (but the aqua pants are only part of an alternate set, and only then with white jerseys--I hate "unitards") and the facemasks. Both were last seen in 1991-96 (the final five years of the Don Shula era and the very first year under Jimmy Johnson).  The striping on the helmets and pants is different in that there are three solid stripes with no gaps between the stripes.  I took out the aqua "neck roll" that debuted on the Dolphins' 2012 white jerseys (because the Dolphins of the '70s didn't have different-colored collars).  Finally, all uniform sets have orange belts.  Why? Because the 1973 Dolphins--the last Miami team to win the Super Bowl--only wore orange belts.

And now to go over things I didn't mess with:

The helmet is still white. After the AFL-NFL merger in 1970, all of the AFC East's teams at that time (Colts, Dolphins, Bills, Jets, Patriots) used white helmets, leading to lots of intradivisional games where quarterbacks threw passes to the wrong receiver. The Jets switched to green helmets in 1978, the Bills to red in 1985, and the Patriots to silver in 1991. The Colts moved to the AFC South in the 2002 divisional realignment, leaving Miami as the only AFC East team that has never used colored helmets. In fact, out of the ten AFL teams that merged into the NFL in 1970, only the Dolphins have used white helmets throughout their entire history. I was not about to mess with that.****

The jersey design is not radical, like the design the Seattle Seahawks started using last year, or the one the Patriots used in the '90s that looked like something that belonged in the World League of American Football. The Dolphins had very conservative jersey designs in the days of Don Shula and Jimmy Johnson, and I wanted to stick to that.

No unusual striping on the helmets or the pants. I'll confess, I briefly considered doing some Art Deco-styled striping (to go with the Art Deco numerals/wordmark/names on the back), or perhaps sunbursts down the side of the pants and the middle of the helmet, but in the end, I felt that stripes like those would stand out too much and detract from the overall design. No orange jerseys, either. The Dolphins never wore orange jerseys under Shula or Johnson.

* A possible new logo was leaked two months ago, and Uni-Watch founder Paul Lukas found one major fault with it: The dolphin appears to be swimming underwater, which by itself isn't a problem... until you consider that it's superimposed on the sunburst.  And as Paul says, "You can't have a sunburst underwater, guys!" On top of that, the person who leaked the logo in the first place thought the dolphin looked too much like a whale (just take the fin off its back, and it really looks like a whale). Also, there's no facial expression or helmet on this dolphin logo.
** The Dolphins beat the Ravens in overtime in 2007.  The Ravens could have won that game if they had their kicker, Matt Stover, kick from the right hashmark instead of from the left (because Stover is right-footed and kicking soccer-style right-footed from the left hashmark is more likely to result in a missed field goal, just like Gary Anderson with the Vikings in the '98 NFC Championship game).  Curiously, Brian Billick, the Ravens' head coach, was the offensive coordinator with the '98 Vikes--you'd think he would have known better, and directed the Ravens' offense to stay away from the left side of the field when they got into field goal range.
** I never call the Miami Dolphins "the Fish". As you know, dolphins aren't fish, they’re mammals!
*** As an aside, I think the Bills should go back to using red helmets, and the Jets should go back to green helmets. That way, each AFC East team would have a different-colored helmet.

I want to add that as with's previous "Redesign the..." contests, this is not sponsored by any sports team or sports apparel maker; it's just for fun. From what I read, Dolphins chief executive officer Mike Dee has already shown a new logo to three ex-Dolphin legends, although it is not known if that logo is the one that was leaked or if it is one that nobody else will see until the Draft. Nevertheless, Paul Lukas has said that in addition to publishing his five best entries on, he will also send them to the Dolphins for their consideration (he didn't specify whether it would be the ownership, front office, marketing, or the equipment manager, just "the Dolphins").

Which is all the more reason I look forward to finding out how my submission fares in the eyes of the Uni-Watch universe.

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