Our long national nightmare, otherwise known as the football offseason, is nearing an end.
Exhibition Preseason games are in full swing, for better or worse. (If you watched all -- or even most of -- the Cowboys' 3-0 win over Oakland Monday, seek help.)
Still, the appearance of the pads and unis is always a welcoming sight and gets the blood pumping. But have you ever taken a closer look at some of those NFL logos?
Many of them, of course, are just stylized emblems, designed to vaguely remind people of a falcon or a horseshoe.
But many feature faces, whether human or animal, and let's just say some pull it off better than others. All are going for a look that says "football tough," of course, but not everyone climbs that mountain to the top.
13. Jacksonville Jaguars -- Not so much mean as he seems to be rolling his eyes in exasperation and frustration at the photo shoot. "Pally, not to rush ya, but I got a 4:45 with Sports Illustrated, you know what I mean? You think maybe you got what you need by now?"
12. Oakland Raiders: A fearsome marauder? This guy looks more like an account executive who's just gotten home to Cinco Ranch and is about to be forced to deal with some "Wait till your father gets home!" crap instead of watching SportsCenter.
11. Philadelphia Eagles: This putatively fierce face is actually a reaction shot from the moment that the Eagle sees Michael Vick writhing in pain on the ground from yet another season-crippling injury that could have been avoided by throwing the ball away.
10. Washington Redskins: Maybe they're trying for quiet dignity here, but instead the look just comes off more as utter disbelief that these white people are still rationalizing away the use of the term "Redskin."
9. Baltimore Ravens: Angry? More surprised. As in Are you trying to tell me we almost lost to something called a TJ Yates? And Ray Lewis is another year older?!?!
8. Miami Dolphins: Has anyone really ever seen a sinister-looking dolphin? Was there an evil-twin episode of Flipper we missed on TV Land?
Whatever the case may be, this dolphin seems to be heading into a face-first shot to an exposed receiver's ribs in the most precarious way -- not only is there no facemask, the guy has every soft tissue possible sticking out ready to be bloodied. Maybe that's why he looks so mad.
7. Minnesota Vikings: We used to see this guy at Mary's back in the day. You don't want to know where those horns have been. But his soul-destroying decision to substitute random, anonymous leathersex in place of an emotionally committed relationship would make even the most even-keeled of Vikings mad.
6. Denver Broncos: The angriest horse ever, thanks to the fact that the Denver Broncos' graphics department apparently does not have an app to correct the red-eye effect in its illustrations.
5. Carolina Panthers: Is that a growl or a yawn? Because from our vantage point, it looks like a yawn. And when you realize your team is still trying to put Jimmy Clausen on the field, it makes a yawn seem much, much more likely. Unless you're a season-ticket holder, and then it's back to a growl.
4. Chicago Bears: A feral, man-killing denizen of the deep woods, able to inflict pain with a heedless slash? Looks more to us like some elderly patient being asked by the doctor to stick his tongue out and say "aaah," complete with a worried look in the eyes as the doc makes discouraging noises to himself. (Or maybe the patient's look is just saying, "Jay Cutler is still our quarterback?")
Finally, three old-school logos:
3. New England Patriots: Make no mistake -- this is one pissed-off Revolutionary, ready to kick Limey ass back to Liverpool. We're not sure what he's so angry about, though: that's not exactly the Valley Forge Collection of tattered rags he's sporting. Looks warm enough to us. Guy probably even has shoes, of all decadent things.
2. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Words fail. We would like to have been at the great corporate-boardroom unveiling when the marketing team whipped off the wrapping to reveal the face of the Bucs' franchise, and fully seven-eighths of the people there were furiously biting their tongues. (The other one-eighth being related to the owner's niece, who no doubt got the marketing contract to come up with the new logo.)
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SHOW ME HOW
1. Cleveland Browns: Well, we guess he could seem evil, if you're the kind of person who gets spooked by Harry Potter's Dobby. And the whole "drawn with a sharpie" don't-give-a-shit vibe bespeaks something dashed off in three seconds as the NFL powers-that-be are standing by your desk, tapping their feet, impatiently waiting for your logo submission.
We guess that kind of surly attitude can seem evil, or at least devil-may-care, which does have "e-v-i-l" in it.
But still, it ain't no pissed-off dolphin.