That Funny Ravens Logo (Red, Yellow and Black aren't their colors, are they?)

A few days ago at that other site, there was a discussion of the possible misuse of the colors grey and blue on the Texas state patch on the MLB Rangers' sleeves.  I agree that the lighting and shading is possibly depicted wrong, and while I realize that the limitations of embroidery may have limited the use of colors to just those four as people brought up in the comments over there, another problem I have is the length of the flag in relation to it's height.  If you unfurl it, I believe you have a flag that is over three-times as wide as it is high.  And I'm not even getting into the gray gradations they added to the 2-Dimensional star, but I'm sure there are regulations about flags and what you can do as far as three-dimensionally representing a two-dimensional flag.

At any rate, in these above images, the lower right is a variation of another way you could depict the flag.  It would require a second shade of darker red, but if you use the brownish-gray instead of the blue for the shadow part and then shade it as I have, you have a version perhaps more palatable to those so interested in detail.  I'm sure, however, when the Rangers' adopted this patch in 2000 (yes they've had it for over a decade, and we're just noticing it now) they worked up a few different variations, and the team brass chose what they did.

What does this discussion of an MLB patch have to do with football uniforms, our focus here at The Gridiron Uniform Database?  Well, as we are discussing state flags, along with the Rangers' use of their state flag, baseball's Orioles and football's Ravens have also used the Maryland state flag within team logos.  But what do these items from the Maryland flag that are in the Orioles and Ravens' logos mean?

The Maryland State Flag

Many readers of this website, in discussing football uniform color issues, have brought up heraldry, as in our discussion of the tincture of Or, the color gold (not yellow), etc.  So today let's take a look at this Ravens' secondary logo and its' heraldric elements.  As you can see when you look at the Maryland state flag, the Orioles use the actual representation of the flag, within an orange circle with their team name, yet the Ravens' is not quite the same.  But what do these quarters of the flag represent?

The Crossland Banner
The Maryland state flag design is based on the coat of arms of George Calvert, the English politican who was the 1st Baron of Baltimore, and basically the "founder" of colonial Maryland.  The yellow and black pattern was from arms granted to him by royal patent -- the vertical striped pattern representing a palisades that he "courageously stormed in battle," while the red and white cross bottony pattern is derived from the Crossland banner that belonged to the family of Calvert's mother.  (Later, during the Civil War when Marylanders who supported the Confederacy didn't want to use the Maryland flag because their state supported the Union, used the Crossland banner, whose red and white colors were seen as secession colors.)

The Grenville Armorial in the
house of Stowe shows a very
extravagant use of marshallling
-- it contains 719 quarterings.

In heraldry, marshalling is when you "cross" two flags in this manner, as in a union of a husband and wife's families, one way to do it is by putting one of the flags in the 1st and 4th quadrants, and the other in the 2nd and 3rd quadrants.  There are a few different ways to "cross" in successive generations, depending on which European traditions you are following, i.e. French nobility, British nobility, Spanish nobility, Germanic nobility, etc.  In some traditions, if you were crossing a four-field arms with another four-field arms, you would simply choose two of the four fields and cross them, in other traditions you would "quarter" the quartering, and then have eight fields.  In this method, after a few generations you would have a very confusing set of arms.

The state of Maryland flag, therefore, was the Calvert family colors "crossed" with the Crossland colors.  The Orioles use this exact pattern within their logo, but the Ravens' logo isn't quite the same.  It is the Maryland flag, which the Orioles use, but then it is "crossed" with the "B" and "R" of the Ravens' logo.  This of course, isn't actually heraldry, but just use of heraldric elements in a sports logo.  The University of Maryland Terrapins also have used elements of the Maryland state flag in their logos.

Philadelphia's City Flag
Are there any other NFL examples of teams using either heraldry or state or local insignia besides the Ravens?  We know that the Eagles used Philadelphia's city flag colors early in their existence.  (You know, before they tried out the grey/black in 1941.)  They "threw-back" to these colors in 2007, and currently the womens soccer team, the Philadelphia Independence, is reviving these colors in their new team's logo.

Speaking of women's soccer, good luck to the Women's World Cup team today in the final against Japan, but also good luck to Phil Mickelson, who just shot a 5-under par 30 on the front nine in the final round of the British Open to tie for the lead.  We know a lot of people "over there" are rooting for Darren Clarke, but a lot of people over here are rooting for Lefty.

"I love me some baby blue and yellow"


  1. The NY Islanders team colors of blue and orange take after the official colors of Nassau County, where they play. Nassau is named after Dutch William of Nassau, Prince of Orange (who later also ruled as King William III of England.) The county colors were also the colors of the House of Orange.

    The NY Knicks and Mets both take the colors blue and orange from the City of New York's flag, which is a vertical tricolor of blue, white, and orange charged in the center bar with municipal seal in blue. The tricolor design is taken from the flag of the United Netherlands used in 1625, the year New Amsterdam was settled on the island of Manhattan.

  2. The Tennessee Titans use a circle surrounding three stars in their helmet logo (which they clutter up with a cartoonish "T" and some flames). I believe they also use such an element in at least one secondary logo. The circle and stars motif is lifted from the state flag and symbolizes Tennessee's three Grand Divisions (East, Middle, West), which together form the state.

  3. Funny you should mention Philly. The reason that all of Pittsburgh's teams are black and yellow/gold is because those are the city colors and the colors of Pittsburgh's flag ... which, by the way, was modeled after Philadelphia's flag.



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