NY_CFL_fan

My personal Continental Football League -- recent updates

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I've been on this forum for a while and I saw that others (hugevolsfan and CJ Zilligen) had shared personal/fictional football leagues with their own designs. I have my own fictional football league that I came up with more than 30 years ago, and I've had it knocking around in my brain and on paper ever since. I always thought I was the only football helmet/logo geek out there -- glad to see I'm not the only one. There's a rather long backstory to my league -- the Continental Football League -- so I'll try to sum it up. I started this concept league in 1983-84 when I was in ninth grade as a mashup of the Canadian Football League, USFL and World Football League, with several teams of my own creation (Hurricanes, Mustangs, Wolfpack, Thunderbirds, etc.) to fill out a 28-team league that roughly paralleled the NFL, but as an East-West league like the NHL or NBA.

 

Since I am not much of an artist and many of the teams in my league exist in the real world in some form, I used helmets from MG's Helmets to display the vision of my league, using Photoshop to make changes. In some cases, I used logos from other artists on here or elsewhere in cyberspace, but I give full credit to the artists' original work -- and I do not profit from any of this, this league is for my own enjoyment. In other cases, I recolored logos to suit the teams I came up with.

 

Full credit goes to hugevolsfan for the Memphis Blues -- that's his idea, although I use a recolored Philadelphia Soul helmet for them. I had gone through several nicknames for Memphis over the years, but I have no idea why I didn't think of the Blues years ago! My original Memphis team was the Wolfpack using North Carolina colors, but they morphed into other teams before I settled on the Blues after seeing hugevolsfan's.

 

As for some of the other helmets, all credit to CJ Zilligen for the current Jacksonville Sharks' and Colorado Grizzlies' logos. They are outstanding works and wanted to plug his artwork. Credit also goes to the creators of the logos for the Miners and Mustangs, also among my favorites. Again, this league is completely for my own enjoyment, but I thought I would share another concept league.

 

The Arizona Inferno are my homage to my favorite logo -- the Atlanta Flames' flaming A. The Carolina Hurricanes actually, for me, dates back to a team I created in 1984 (as the Houston Hurricane originally), but the helmet is MG's Helmets' concept from the NHL team.

 

I had discovered Canadian football in 1982 when NBC showed some games during the NFL strike and ESPN started its coverage of the CFL. I also happened to have an English teacher, Mr. Niles, who was Canadian and let me borrow a couple of books he had about the CFL. My family took a vacation to Ontario in the summer of '83, so I bought a couple more CFL books. I was fascinated with football helmets and logos to begin with, and bored with the same old NFL logos, so I was thrilled to see new teams and colors -- including arrival of the USFL in the spring of '83, and a 10th anniversary story of the WFL in Football Digest magazine showed that late-lamented league's logos (in black and white).

 

So I had the brilliant idea around that time to invent my own league with CFL teams, plus select teams from the USFL and WFL, and a few of my own concept teams. Using a blank helmet template traced from an NFL preview book, I created a league with paper and colored pencils. I originally dubbed it the North American Football League (NAFL), but changed it to the Continental Football League a few years later (I knew there was a minor Continental League in the 1960s, but at the time I knew very little about it). I developed an origin story -- the Canadian league merging with teams from two other smaller pro leagues in the U.S. south and eastern seaboard in the mid to late 1950s to compete with the NFL -- and each team had its own history, as well. I created the league as a hybrid of American and Canadian rules to create the most exciting game possible, in a fictional timeline where the AFL never existed (although some teams did, but as NFL teams) as my league and the NFL competed for expansion cities.

 

Sometimes, in my free time, I traced football photos and recolored them as teams from my league. Over three decades, I tweaked and retrofitted teams to change nicknames and helmet/uniform designs and colors, finding teams that I liked in the Arena Football League, NFL Europe or CFL expansion (Baltimore Stallions) and replacing original teams. Since my league has always paralleled the NFL in format, my CFL expanded to 30 and 32 teams. I also developed past helmets that teams used in previous decades.

 

Two very interesting things with my Continental Football League -- I came up with the Ottawa Renegades and Carolina Hurricanes a decade or two before the actual CFL and NHL teams. When I first drew up my league in 1984, I know CFL purists will hate this, but I never liked two Roughriders/Rough Riders, so I kept Saskatchewan the same and changed Ottawa to the Renegades, using a black, white and red version of the Orlando Renegades USFL helmet (eventually switching to the Ottawa Renegades' CFL helmet when they arrived in 2002). As for the Hurricanes, I love the nickname and wanted a team with that name and the same red/white/black colors -- and since Charlotte, NC, did not have a pro team at the time (1984), that was my natural landing spot (although Houston Hurricanes was a possibility, as well). I originally used the old WFL Portland Storm logo -- recolored in red and black -- until I saw the Carolina Hurricanes' NHL logo. Another is the Montreal Alouettes/Baltimore Stallions history -- in this alternate timeline, Montreal moved to Baltimore in the 1980s instead of going defunct, and the Washington Sentinels (remember "The Replacements"?) moved to Montreal in the '90s.

 

I created or recolored several teams because there were many color combinations I like that were not in the NFL or CFL in the 1980s, but were in the college ranks, so there are several teams that represent some of those great color combinations -- black and teal, dark green and black, maroon and metallic gold, orange and navy, green and blue (think Hartford Whalers), purple and silver, garnet and gold. I have teams that have stayed in the same city, but have undergone multiple nickname changes until I found something that sounded right. I had the Michigan Panthers right up until a few weeks ago -- I was playing musical nicknames among the Wolfpack, Mustangs and Thunder, but I always wanted a team called the Wolfpack, so I retrofitted the Panthers as the Wolfpack after a rebranding, circa 1980.


CFL 2002-present EFC.png

CFL 2016 WFC.png

 

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Very nice renderings of the helmets.

 

And would the 32 team alignment be the league's current stage of evolution through years of expansions and relocations? I ask because it would be interesting to see each step of the league's growth.

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Exactly. The league had its expansion periods, particularly in the '60s and early 1970s. There has been some franchise movement over the years as well. I have similar helmet displays of each era of the Continental Football League, and attempted to use decade-appropriate helmet logos. The league started with Canadian and American conferences in the 1950s and 60s, but as it was easier to expand to larger American cities, the league switched to an East-West format in 1970.

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Cool.  I'm a sucker for fictional leagues that go back decades of real-world time (of the designer's life).  I'm in the process of overhauling my own fictional sports league that originates in 1986 for eventual presentation here.  What is your plan for rolling this out?  Are you going to do the year-by-year presentation like many people here do?  Those are always fun, especially when the design aesthetics for logos and uniforms match the eras.  I really hope you show a lot of your original artwork and stat sheets, embarrassing though those might be.  That kind of stuff brings a richness and history to a project like this, beyond the simple presentation of "history".

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I'm trying to find one of my original helmet pages in colored pencil from about 25-30 years ago... We're cleaning out the basement right now actually... My league was always based on the NFL and its scheduling system, so it's not the most original work, but there is  certainly imagination involved. 

I'm planning to show the historical development of the Continental Football League via helmet pages like the current one. 

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That's the stuff that's most interesting, is to show where this all came from.  No one made these personal leagues and has kept up with it off an on for 20 or 30 years without it coming from a place of pure love and joy.

 

Outside of the helmets, are you planning on showing league results?   Some of the most fun I'm having with my league is transferring all the old pen and paper results to a spreadsheet and just reliving some of those crazy seasons.  Remembering the dynasties and the sad-sack never-catch-a-break teams.  Plus, it brings a smile to my heart seeing all of that old stuff looking sharp and "official".  I highly recommend it if you weren't otherwise planning on doing so. 

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I have a ton of old standings, playoffs and championship games. Some of those title games I based off of Grey Cups, USFL championships, Vanier Cups -- games that needed a place to go in this alternate Continental Football League timeline.

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It's definitely a labor of love over the years -- my wife would call it insanity... 

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leadoff post

I will soon be posting helmet display pages for my Continental Football League like the current alignment on my leadoff post, but I wanted to post a list of the team color palettes as they stand in 2016, arranged by division. Obviously, the Canadian Football League teams are based on the real ones, so there has been little deviation from their real-world counterparts. The rest are ideas from other sources and much, much better artists than I -- in some cases I changed colors to suit my vision. All credit goes to the original designers -- these are just some of my favorite logos arranged in a league I started working on around 1983-84:

 

EFC North

Hamilton Tiger-Cats -- black and gold, of course.

Montreal Alouettes -- red, white, silver and blue with the familiar Angry Bird logo.

Ottawa Renegades -- different name, same black and red colors, with a Chicago Rush R.

Toronto Argonauts -- Double Blue, as always.

 

EFC Coastal

Baltimore Stallions -- blue and silver, black trim, like the late lamented American CFL team.

Boston Breakers -- black, teal and silver -- thanks to the creator of the NFL development league for a fresh take on a classic look. I always liked the waves on the USFL team's helmet.

Carolina Hurricanes -- red, white and black like the NHL team (except I thought of it first in the mid-'80s). :)

New York Knights -- black and metallic gold, like the Knights of West Point up the Hudson. My original idea was to make them navy blue and silver, like the Scottish Claymores, but I had a navy and silver team already (LA Express), and I really wanted a black and metallic gold team (think Purdue or the Saints). My other idea was to use the New York/New Jersey Knights chess-piece logo from the WLAF -- that ended up being an earlier logo for this team.

 

EFC Central

Columbus Gladiators -- black, red and silver -- the Arena League team gets to play outdoors in this league.

Indiana Blazers -- black and orange -- could have used any flames-on-helmet look, but I liked the flames best on the NFL developmental league helmet of the Daytona Beach Speed, so thanks to the creator.

Michigan Wolfpack -- maroon, silver and black -- New Mexico Lobos logo on maroon.

Nashville Nighthawks -- black, purple and metallic gold get together with the old New York CityHawks Arena League helmet here.

 

EFC South

Birmingham Vulcans -- navy and crimson for this old WFL team, turned into an original Continental League team from decades ago. Another favorite old logo of mine.

Jacksonville Sharks -- proudly displaying CJ Zilligen's beautiful UFL shark logo, Jacksonville now features midnight teal (a dark shade of teal, with a metallic look to the helmets) as its primary with gold, black and light blue trim. After playing with a silver WFL Sharks helmet for years, the team adopted the San Jose Sharks logo (minus the stick) on a teal helmet -- although teal was always part of the team's colors.

Memphis Blues -- Taking my cute from hugevolsfan's MLF, here's double blue from the opposite side, with light blue Philadelphia Soul helmets. The team does wear dark blue jerseys with light blue and white numbers and dark blue pants -- I cover high school football in my area and happened to see a team with this color combination and it looked amazing.

Orlando Predators -- black and red, like the Arena Football team, but these guys play in the Citrus Bowl. Before the late '80s, this team was the Tampa Bay Bandits, in their classic red, silver and black.

 

WFC North

Calgary Stampeders -- red, white and black, like my favorite real-world CFL team.

Edmonton Eskimos -- dark green and gold, a classic look.

Saskatchewan Roughriders -- kelly green, white, silver and black on the prairies.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers -- navy blue and metallic gold, but may follow the real-world team back to royal blue -- not sure yet. I always liked the lightning bolt football logo.

 

WFC Coastal

BC Lions -- black and orange, and will be switching to the new Michigan Panthers-inspired lion head orange-on-black helmet this season.

Los Angeles Express -- navy blue and silver, like the USFL team.

Portland Thunderbirds -- emerald green, silver and navy blue -- kind of a reverse-Seattle Seahawks look. Critics don't care for the current "Angry Birds" logo and prefer their pre-mid '90s white helmets (I'll display them soon enough) and green-and-blue Hartford Whalers-esque livery.

San Jose Storm -- royal blue and gold, but this Storm plays outdoors in San Jose, not indoors in Tampa.

 

WFC Central

Chicago Marauders -- black and silver, with the Peoria Pirates' grinning pirate skull logo creating a Raiders-like mystique.

Houston Thunder -- dark green, black and silver, like the University of Hawaii's green and black look, but with the Berlin Thunder's hammer of Thor logo.

Kansas City Warriors -- navy blue and orange -- think Syracuse and Illinois. I always liked the Chief Illiniwek logo, so it's proudly displayed on KC's helmets. The team's orange helmets originally had the classic spear-and-feathers look of Florida State.

St. Louis Mustangs -- purple and silver with black trim -- think TCU and Kansas State, one of my favorite color combos. They recently switched to purple helmets after wearing silver helmets (and a recolored Western Michigan logo) for decades. After initially going with Boise State's logo, I found a great mustang head logo on the web and recolored it for this league. The original Milwaukee-then-St. Louis Mustangs wore white helmets with the St. Louis Stallions NFL proposal logo in purple and white. (Apparently I like horse logos...)

 

WFC South

Arizona Inferno -- garnet and metallic gold, like Florida State, but with the team being in Arizona, I have been thinking of using copper instead of gold -- how would copper and garnet look as a color combo? Here the old Atlanta Flames logo finds an extended life for decades after the NHL team moved to Calgary. The original helmets were gold to match Arizona State, where the team originally played, with a WFL Chicago Fire flame logo.

Colorado Grizzlies -- navy blue, gold and light blue, kind of a West Virginia or Buffalo Sabres look. After years of metallic gold helmets with the old WFL Memphis Southmen/Grizzlies logo, they went through the NBA Memphis Grizzlies "grumpy bear" logo before settling on CJ Zilligen's awesome roaring bear logo from his UFL, recolored to match the Colorado Grizzlies.

Las Vegas Miners -- black and metallic gold, I loved the terrific Miners' logo I saw on the Internet, representing Vegas well. Could they be headed out of town if the NFL's Raiders move in? Could they return to Oakland, where for many years they were the Oakland Outlaws?

San Antonio Toros -- maroon and metallic gold -- using a recolored Red Bull logo. Their original maroon helmets with the gold charging bull logo were sharp, then the '90s brought a switch to recolored metallic gold and maroon Jacksonville Bulls helmets.

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Here's the 30-team alignment for my Continental Football League, before the 2002 addition of the Columbus Gladiators and Nashville Nighthawks, and the subsequent realignment into eight four-team divisions.

In order to keep my league an East-West setup, I had to do a bit of retrofitting once I figured out the new alignment over a decade ago. My original concept league back in the '80s right up to the 2000s had a WFC Central division of Chicago, Kansas City, St. Louis, Saskatchewan and Winnipeg, and a WFC Pacific Division of B.C., Calgary, Colorado, Edmonton and Portland. Collecting all of the Canadian West teams into a single division seemed the best fit to maintain rivalries and hold down the travel distance between division rivals.

A bit of history of developing my own fictional league -- some cities went through multiple nicknames before I settled on the current setup. Chicago and Memphis have had a few nickname changes (Chicago Blitz, Skyhawks and Sabres before Marauders, for instance; Memphis Wolfpack and Marauders before Blues), and I played musical nicknames among Houston, St. Louis and Kansas City. I even juggled Orlando between Thunder (not the fluorescent lime green WLAF Thunder) and Predators. Some I never changed -- Portland was always the Thunderbirds, Colorado was always the Grizzlies. Michigan was the USFL Panthers right up until a few weeks ago, really -- I always liked Wolfpack as a nickname and the landing spot that made the most sense was Michigan, so I made Panthers the original nickname for the franchise.

 

CFL 1995-2001 East.pngCFL 1995-2001 West.png

 

Continental Football League 1995-2001 alignment.pdf

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I was always too lazy to simulate results -- decades ago I didn't have a simulation or stats program to run and I didn't have enough time with work -- so I just based results on the NFL seasons, with tweaks, and created team histories with names from actual Canadian, USFL and other leagues, college teams, and local high school players and coaches. So my results are more fixed, rather than an organic running "history" like Veras' AFA. My teams all have NFL "doppelgangers" for my own ease of keeping track, although they have been altered over the years to suit particular dynasties and the fact that teams have been more apt to shift divisions in the Continental Football League. When I was in high school or college in the late '80s, I worked out complete 16-game seasons from 1970-77 by adding two teams in 1970 (for a 28-team Continental Football League) and using the NFL's scheduling formula it used from 1978-90, so long as the teams generally ended up in the right places in the standings. It's amazing I still have the handwritten worksheets I did all of that on. I also worked out the entire 1982 and 1987 NFL "strike" schedules (translated into my CFL) in similar fashion, without the strike. In Continental League history, periods of labor strife were worked out in the offseason or preseason, without losing anything more than 2-3 preseason weeks.

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OK, after some tweaks and fine-tuning, here's the original lineup of my personal/fictional football league, the Continental Football League. I came up with the concept of a mashup of the Canadian Football League, USFL and WFL sometime in the early '80s when I was in junior high school. I basically took the CFL and several USFL and WFL teams I liked and drew helmets, adding several of my own concepts (my original name for the league was the North American Football League). It's not all that original, but over the years I did come up with a league history as a league that played by hybrid Canadian and American rules that was a 1956 merger of  the CFL and the remnants of two other small pro leagues, the East Coast Football League and the Southern Professional Football League -- growing into a league that rivaled the NFL.

So here is the original Continental Football League in its original lineup, an 18-team league with two nine-team conferences.

The Canadian Conference is of course, the CFL of the day, while the American Conference is a mix of "what-if" teams -- what if some of those USFL and WFL teams had existed decades earlier? -- and my own concept teams, and even the Norfolk Neptunes of the actual 1960s Continental Football League making an appearance.

So here's the graphic representation of the league -- I'll try to do the same with my earlier posts of my current 32-team CFL.

Continental League original lineup 1.pngContinental League original lineup 2.png

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The next installment of the history of the Continental Football League -- a slow American expansion, by adding two more teams in 1960: the Arizona (Phoenix) Inferno and Colorado (Denver) Grizzlies. That brought the CFL to 20 teams -- nine in the Canadian Conference, 11 in the American Conference. The league schedule expanded from 12 games to 14.

It was clear to CFL owners that there would soon be a race with the NFL for expansion cities, so solid ownership in several cities was actively sought during these early years. Since in this reality there was no AFL -- some AFL/AFC teams became NFL expansion teams instead as the CFL and NFL battled for expansion cities. While the NFL made moves for, say, Buffalo, San Diego, Miami and New Orleans, the CFL had eyes on Kansas City, Houston, Atlanta and putting a second team in L.A. to challenge the Rams.

Here's the Continental Football League's alignment in the early '60s, ripe for a rapid mid-'60s expansion. Some of the helmets aren't quite historically accurate as far as the facemasks, but I did update the American Conference helmets.

Continental Football League 1960-63-0.pngCFL 1960-63 American.png

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Continuing my history of my personal/fictional football league:

For the Continental Football League, the race with the NFL for expansion was on in the mid-1960s. While the NFL had expanded to locations like Dallas, Minnesota, Buffalo and San Diego, the CFL was poised to expand -- or move struggling franchises -- to other cities, like Kansas City, where the expansion Warriors debuted in 1964. The Norfolk Neptunes moved to Houston to become the Gamblers. Other cities were chosen for a massive four-team American expansion in 1966 -- Jacksonville (Fla.), Los Angeles, Milwaukee and Detroit had solid ownership groups in place, while two struggling franchises -- Florida and New Jersey -- were looking to flee Miami and Newark for untapped southern markets (Atlanta and Tampa Bay, respectively).

Helmet logos grew in popularity with the positive reception of Arizona's flame logo and others, so teams began switching from numbers or blank helmets to logos.

Again, some of the helmet facemasks are not historically accurate, but most of the helmets (like the historic Canadian Football League helmets) are on the excellent MG's Helmets site, which I encourage you to check out. He has a fascinating history of college and pro helmets for your perusal. This is just a graphic representation of the league that has knocked around my brain for a little over 30 years.

 

CFL 1964-65 Canadian.pngCFL 1964-65 American.png

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A ton of these are way too modern for the 60's 

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1 hour ago, KRZYBDGRZ said:

A ton of these are way too modern for the 60's 

Some certainly are -- again, this is just the closest I can get for some of the teams/logos I had in mind for the league. I'm not the best artist, as I said, otherwise I would have developed something more visually accurate rather than using existing art. Some of the logos are from the USFL, so it's hard to retrofit them to something that might have existed 15-20 years earlier. Back in the '80s when I came up with my concept league, I was drawing with colored pencils and could do a little more with it, although admittedly I wasn't too concerned with artistic accuracy at the time. I didn't take the time to fit the logos all to period-accurate facemask helmets, though I probably could go back and do that... just picture them all with basic gray two-bar facemasks that were used in the day.

I would think the San Antonio Toros would have come up with something like the Red Bull logo I used -- I was thinking along the lines of the Arkansas Razorbacks, which were using their razorback logo as early as 1964. I imagine the Generals might have come up with something close to the five-star general logo, the Stars would have used something similar as well (without going full Dallas Cowboys on it), and the Blazers and Inferno logos are 1970s WFL logos -- so they're 10 years early, which isn't as much of a stretch as USFL designs might be. I figure the Sentinels would have used something close to the Federals' logo -- kind of '60s/70s clean lines there. I probably could have stuck with the knight silhouette for the New York Knights for a few more years in the '60s rather than going with the horse head logo.

Again, this is all for pure fun and something I've toyed with for 30-odd years now. Figuring out Photoshop gave me a way to display the helmet ideas I had.

 

I would love to learn how to do the full uniforms -- any help would be appreciated to point me in the right direction for uniform templates and programs to use.

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Continuing my history of my personal/fictional Continental Football League -- 1966 was the major expansion year, and we can see the league approaching the modern era leading up to the 1970 realignment. With five new teams, the league grew from 21 teams to 26 in one shot -- 10 teams in the Canadian Conference, 16 in the American.

The Michigan Panthers joined the Canadian Conference -- proximity to Ontario-based teams in Hamilton, Toronto and Ottawa was the reason, and with realignment promised by 1970, the owners signed off on the move.

The American Conference saw the move of the Florida Blazers to Atlanta, keeping the same dark blue and red color scheme as the Atlanta Rebels (a concept team I created in the late '80s, so it's not the same as Veras' Atlanta Rebels), and the New Jersey Generals left Newark for the sun of Tampa as the Tampa Bay Bandits.

The four expansion teams were the Birmingham Vulcans, Jacksonville Sharks, Milwaukee Mustangs and Southern California Sun, giving the Continental Football League a presence in Los Angeles.

The CFL played a 14-game schedule -- the Canadian Conference went with 8 division games, 5 games with the opposite division, and one extra game against one of those cross-division teams. The American Conference teams played 6 division games, four games against the four teams from another division on a rotating basis, and two games each from the other two divisions, based on the previous year's standings (first and fourth vs. first and fourth, second and third vs. second  and third) -- similar to how the NFL began scheduling in 1978.

 

Again, most of the American teams are not historically accurate for the '60s, although the logos are pretty much what I would go with. Picture them with gray two-bar facemasks.

Continental Football League 1966-69-0.pngContinental Football League 1966-69-1.png

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These are all free, and provided by the great folks here in these forums.  

http://mockuparena.com/library/

 

You've got everything from photo-realistic to purely vector-based uniform representations.  Based on your helmet aesthetic, I presume you'll go for the more photo-realistic ones.  While they won't be era-accurate, I think it's perfectly okay for what you're going for (for now) which is a more official-looking representation of your league.  Most of the realistic templates are pretty straightforward if you know your way around photoshop.  There are usually specific layers where you can drop in logos and/or change colors, and all the other lighting and shadow layers are separated.

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Excellent, thank you, darkpiranha!

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