WideRight

WHAT IF: The World Football League Survived!

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1 hour ago, WideRight said:

COLUMBUS WINDS (1995-Present)

Controversy erupted almost immediately as the team held a name-the-team contest, but instead of selecting the winning name, Cyclones,the team went with the Columbus Winds.

"I am just sorry I could not come up with an excuse to bring in the Panthers... but not close enough to any WFL teams." 


The real controversy is the stunning Michigan Panthers' logo and uniform package not being adopted/adapted for use by a Columbus-based WFL franchise! "Not close enough to any WFL teams"? Columbus is just 155 miles as the crow flies panther prowls from Detroit. That's a far shorter distance than the Grizzlies identity migrated from Memphis to Salt Lake City (1,259 miles), or the Thunder logo traveled from Orlando to Portland (2,531 miles).

Oh, to see the Royal Plum, Champagne Silver, and Light Blue take to the field in the World Football League. Perhaps the Winds will rebrand as the Columbus Cougars, Columbus Catamounts, or Columbus Cats at some point in the future. After all, the city did play host to the feline-themed Columbus Tigers in the NFL.

😉

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2 hours ago, Brian in Boston said:


The real controversy is the stunning Michigan Panthers' logo and uniform package not being adopted/adapted for use by a Columbus-based WFL franchise! "Not close enough to any WFL teams"? Columbus is just 155 miles as the crow flies panther prowls from Detroit. That's a far shorter distance than the Grizzlies identity migrated from Memphis to Salt Lake City (1,259 miles), or the Thunder logo traveled from Orlando to Portland (2,531 miles).

Oh, to see the Royal Plum, Champagne Silver, and Light Blue take to the field in the World Football League. Perhaps the Winds will rebrand as the Columbus Cougars, Columbus Catamounts, or Columbus Cats at some point in the future. After all, the city did play host to the feline-themed Columbus Tigers in the NFL.

😉

Not really what I meant (but you know that).  I already did a full USFL alternative history league, so I did not want to bring that in for the WFL.  My goal was to use all 20 WFL team identities in one way or another.  Of the 20 I am keeping 19 of the same names (if not cities) and the last one just had to be changed. 

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MEMPHIS EXPRESS (1995-2020)

Memphis plays in the South with Birmingham, Florida, Jacksonville and Charlotte.

 

Original Logo/Look (as Jacksonville Express)

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There was resentment in Memphis when the Grizzlies left for Portland in 1989 and with the 1990 expansion teams already selected, it was too late for the city to put together a viable bid, so when it was announced that there would be a third expansion in 1995, every effort was made to put together a winning bid.  With corporate backing from Federal Express, it should be no surprise that the team took the name "Express" even before the announcement that they had been awarded a franchise.  Memphis was all in, and the franchise went all in on talent acquisition, pushing the league's salary format to the limits to sign top players for the squad.  Their 1995 team boasted 12 former NFL players in their starting 22, including former Bear QB Erik Kramer, RB Craig "Ironhead" Hayward, and stud LB Jack Del Rio.  The Express sped their way to the top, winning the Southern Division in their first year and holding off the Detroit Wheels to take the World Bowl, a feat which sent the city into a euphoric "revenge party".   Memphis would remain a regular playoff contender throughout their first decade, winning 2 more trophies in 2002 and 2003.  SInce then they have remained competetive, but have yet to reach the World Bowl for a 4th time. 

 

Over the past 25 years, Memphis has adjusted their logo several times.  Beginning in 1995 with a train-themed logo in FedEx colors of Purple and Orange, the Express won a championship, but also attracted the attention of FedEx corporate lawyers, who initiated some trademark infringement discussions.  The eventual decision, in 1988, was to rebrand the team, retaining the Express name, but adjusting the colors to purple, black and silver.  The train motif lasted through all 3 championships, but in 2012 the team decided to go a different direction and the current logo was adopted.  The team now sports a modern look with purple as the dominant color and an emphasis on motion & speed as themes. 

 

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Notes:  Yup, that is more AAF influence, as the logo and uniform design are reduxes of the Memphis Express of the 8-week league.  

 

Next:  The last WFL expansion comes in 1999, when they decide to take on the NFL by adding two teams in longstanding NFL cities. 

 

 

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34 minutes ago, WideRight said:

Not really what I meant (but you know that).  I already did a full USFL alternative history league, so I did not want to bring that in for the WFL.  My goal was to use all 20 WFL team identities in one way or another.  Of the 20 I am keeping 19 of the same names (if not cities) and the last one just had to be changed. 


I know... I was just ribbin' ya'.

I have to say, I was really interested in seeing how this series would turn out. The WFL's existence was so short - and tied to a period of time with such a particular set of aesthetics - that I wanted to see how you'd go about bringing the teams into the modern era. While not all of the concepts and/or elements have worked for me, I think some are amongst your best work.

I really loved the simple, yet effective, tweak you made to the Birmingham Vulcans' primary mark. Though I'm not normally a fan of gradient treatments, the sublimated fade from orange to red on the Florida Blazers' home jersey looks terrific. The sun element incorporated into the collar on San Diego's jerseys is a great touch, as was the decision to bring back the orange and magenta color scheme in all of its glory. As I've noted elsewhere, the San Antonio Wings' concept is - thus far - the highlight of the series to this point. The seamless incorporation of the Alamo into the primary logo, the new word mark, the helmet and jersey designs... all add up to what is one of the top concepts that I believe you've ever produced.

I can't wait to see what's coming up.           

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I loved the side shadow on the Wings jerseys. I would bring those back, but both with light blue rather than the grey on the road jerseys. 

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On 6/6/2020 at 9:40 AM, WideRight said:

JACKSONVILLE SHARKS (1974-Present)

Play in Southern Division with Florida, Birmingham, Memphis and Charlotte.

 

Original Look/Logo:

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The Jacksonville Sharks have been the city's only pro sports team for over 40 years.  Playing in the Gator Bowl (renamed many times since), the Sharks started off emulating the Raiders in Black and Silver.  They fell victim to the 1990's color craze and added teal to their look in 1995, but have still maintained their enigma as a team of misfits, outlaws and vagabonds.  Their highlight came in the late 1980's when they brought together a team with some solid talent which the NFL had overlooked, including QB Bobby Hebert, LB Sam Mills, and former Sooner RB Marcus Dupree.  They won back to back World Bowl Championships under head coach Steve Spurrier before he headed off to the U. of Florida.  Since then, the team has been up and down, but always entertaining.  They returned to the World Bowl in 2011, led by former Viking QB Duante Culpepper, but lost in the final minute to a late field goal. 

 

The Sharks uniform still maintains a heavy dose of Black & Silver, with teal appearing only in small ways, though the color does feature more prominently in the depiction of the shark in the logo.  In 1996 the team, working at the time with NIKE, developed the first angled helmet stripes in pro football, the 3 stripe taper which they still use.  They also introduced, 2 years later, the "wave stripe" which now adorns their pants.  In 2015 they updated their jerseys with the shark-fin sleeve stripe, which replaced a very unpopular look involving the team name written vertically across the sleeves & shoulders like a yoke.  The new look has been generally well-received by Shark fans, as not perfect, but a big improvement over their prior look, which also featured chrome facemasks. 

 

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Notes:  In 1995, with Jacksonville and Charlotte already WFL cities, the NFL did not expand there.  They expanded to Nashville (Tennessee Titans) and St. Louis (Stallions) instead. 

 

Next Up:  Pat's vs. Geno's,  with whiz, peppers, onions, no mushrooms please. 

 

 

The Sharks and Vulcans were always my favorites and I did a Vulcan's logo modernization a few years ago but never tackled Jacksonville.  This uniform is absolute beautiful!  The addition of teal makes sense and the shark fin on the sleeve is brilliantly executed.  By far one of my all-time favorites on this board.  Bravo!

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1999 EXPANSION

With the WFL and NFL having agreed upon a series of collaborative strategies, not the least of which was the ability for teams in one league to buy out the contracts of players in the other, the WFL took the daring step of determining that they would add 2 more franchises, to bring the league total up to 20, and that the newest 2 franchises would be in major markets already home to NFL franchises.  In 1997 the bidding was opened, and the WFL received bids from 8 cities:  Atlanta, Boston, Dallas, Kansas City, Miami, New Orleans, Seattle and Washington DC.   A combination of stadium concerns, friction with the NFL team owners in the city, or undercapitalized ownership groups led to most of the cities being eliminated early on in the process. It came down to Seattle, Kansas City, New Orleans and Washington for the final two slots, and the league looked at potential realignment options and potential for rivalries as it made the final selection.  The two winning bids were Seattle and Washington, DC.  They became the 19th and 20th franchises in the league.  Sitting at 20 teams, the WFL has not expanded since 1999.

 

SEATTLE STORM (1999-2020)

Play in the West with San Diego, Utah, Portland and the Hawaiians. 

 

Original look/logo:

BDCYJPS.jpg

 

Seattle entered the WFL in 1999 at a point when the Seahawks were beginning to see success, so it was a tough sell at first.  Playing at Husky Stadium, the one advantage the Storm had was the ability to sell outdoor football, which was great in the early weeks of the season, but became less and less desirable as the season wore on each year.  Eventually the Storm took hold as a less-expensive alternative to the Seahawks, and they were averaging 25,000+ each year from the mid-2000's on.  Success on the field took a little longer, as the best Seattle could muster for most of their first 20 years was a wild-card berth.  That all changed this past year, when the Storm, led by as stingy defense and the tough running of former Redskin Matt Jones, led the Storm to their first World Bowl, where they pulled off a 17-9 victory over the Birmingham Vulcans.  

 

Back in 1999 many wondered whether the Storm would align with the Seahawks and go with a royal-green-silver look, or perhaps with the green and gold of the Supersonics, but the franchise decided to pull from the local colors of the are, particularly the blues and greys of a stormy day.  So, the Storm sports a 2-tone blue and silver uniform.  The main color is a slate blue, with silver and navy as secondaries.  The team uses 2 logos, the primary is a representation of the iconic Space Needle drawn to hint at storm clouds, pouring rain and lightning.  The secondary is a football with a lightning-bolt accented "S".   The uniforms are highlighted by shoulder yokes and a very wide lightning-bolt center stripe on the helmet.  

 

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Notes:  The primary logo is borrowed from one of the many many Space Needle logos and renditions, recolored to reflect the team color scheme.  The secondary is a mix of the original Portland Storm logo and any number of lightning-lettered teams with storm/thunder names.  As you probably have guessed, the color scheme is a reprisal of one of my all-time favorite seahawk looks, the 2-tone blue look of the Matt Hasselbeck era.  

 

Next up, the last team in the WFL project, football in DC that borrows from two failed spring leagues. 

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On 6/9/2020 at 10:27 AM, WideRight said:

ST. LOUIS STEAMERS (1990-Present)

Play in Central with Chicago, Detroit, Houston and San Antonio

 

Original Logo/Look (as Shreveport Steamer):

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WIth the departure of the NFL's Cardinals in the offseason of 1988, the WFL moved fast to place a franchise in the city.  They worked with a coalition of owners who had been seeking expansion franchises in New Orleans and Tulsa to develop a new ownership group for St. Louis, a city viewed as a slam dunk for fan support.  The Steamers became a hot ticket immediately in the Gateway City, selling out their first 4 games in Busch Stadium.  The Steamers remained a popular ticket in St. Louis throughout the decade, despite a series of sub-par seasons and a rotating door of head coaches.  That all changed in 2010 with the hiring of Jim Fassel, former NY Giants head coach and the signing of former NFL QB Jeff Garcia.  The combination of Fassel and Garcia brought back to back championships to the Steamers in 2011 and 2012 before Garcia's retirement in 2013.  Fan support in the city has remained high since then, despite the team having difficulty once again with consistency. 

 

The look of the Steamers emulates the red and white steamboats that once cruised the Mississippi riverfront of the city.  The Steamers retain a traditional striping pattern and have not altered their logo since the 1990 season, making them one of the more "classic" looking teams in the league.  They are also the only team which has been allowed to replace the full city name on the jerseys with another symbol, in this case an StL acronym.  There are rumors that the Steamers are looking at a an all-black alternate look for 2021 as a way to expand their sale of team merchandise.  

 

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Notes:  While I wanted to keep the original Shreveport Steamer logo, the rest of the look, including the color scheme, is clearly an homage to the greatest steamboat-themed sports team ever, the USFL's Memphis Showboats.  The Showboats did not use black at all, but I felt like STL would do so as part of the BFBS trend of the 90's. 

 

Next Up:  The WFL expands again in 1995, this time correcting a mistake by putting a team back in Memphis.  But if not the Southmen, which other WFL team will now call Memphis home?

 

 

 

This is SWEET! Well done!

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Kinda feel like the Seattle helmet would be stronger with the football logo. The S needle kinda disappears on the helmet because it's so thin. 

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4 hours ago, rjrrzube said:

Kinda feel like the Seattle helmet would be stronger with the football logo. The S needle kinda disappears on the helmet because it's so thin. 

 

On the other hand I think it's wonderful...a departure from anything I've seen incorporate the Space Needle.

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And the last team in the series...

 

WASHINGTON FEDERALS (1999-Present)

Play in the East with NY, Columbus, Baltimore and Philadelphia.

 

Original Logo/Look:

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The 20th franchise in the WFL is in the nation's capital.  The Federals seemed an odd choice at the time, with the city generally considered a diehard Redskins fanbase, however, over the past 20 years we have witnessed the absolute collapse of the once-proud Redskin franchise, a collapse which has helped to fuel a growing fanbase for the Federals.  The team has been largely up and down over the years, but a run of 4 straight playoff years from 2013-2016, one which included the 2015 World Bowl Championship, has helped establish a steady base of fans wearing red & white.  

 

The Washington Federals combine two primary location identifiers in their branding, the Capitol building forms the lower part of the W in the logo while elements of DC's white and red flag are found throughout, including the double red stripe and the 3 red stars above the stripes.  This motif is seen in the logo, on the jersey sleeves, pants and even in the helmet stripe which includes 3 red stars on a white stripe. 

 

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Notes:  This is the only team that does not use the original WFL nickname.  I just could not take "Ambassadors" seriously, and since the USFL does not exist in this reality, the "Federals" name is available.  But, while the name comes from the USFL, it should be obvious that the decision to use the DC flag as the core visual element meant that the team's look would be straight out of the DC Defenders of the XFL.  No lightning bolts, but much of the Defenders' look is referenced in this design.

 

So, thanks everyone for tagging along on this journey through the original WFL, its teams and identities, and a vision of what could have happened.  No idea what I will do next, having already done a USFL, Arenaball, CFL and now WFL redux during the long months of COVID-19.  I am fast running out of leagues.  I just don't see myself working on an AAFC concept (though the LA Dons are interesting), so maybe a break.  We shall see.   It has been fun.   Hope you enjoyed it. 

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On 6/3/2020 at 3:17 PM, Skycast said:

Solid start and update...I dig it.

I think you need to tackle the WLAF, USFL, and PSFL as well! 😉

PSFL and WLAF  you could have a merger of both leagues....

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On 6/5/2020 at 12:59 PM, WideRight said:

THE HAWAIIANS (1974-Present)

 

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What a beauty. Very nice color combo, the zigzagged leg pattern horizontally is a great touch.

and thumbs up for all the creative work in this thread in general.

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