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What If? NFL 1995: 2002 Expansion Teams Finalized


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What if the Colts never left Baltimore?

I was thinking about this alternate reality and how that decision could have changed the make up of the NFL forever. The most obvious effect of the Colts remaining in Baltimore is the fact that the Ravens do not exist in this NFL and the Cleveland Browns are the real Cleveland Browns.

Just for kicks I also decided that the Cardinals never left St Louis in 1988 and had a new outdoor stadium built to remain in the city, so the Rams remained in Los Angeles and built a new stadium with the the LA Raiders, which brings us to 1995.

In 1995 the NFL expanded from 28 to 30 teams. In the real world, we all know that Charlotte, NC and Jacksonville, Fl were chosen to host the two new teams, the Panthers and Jaguars respectively. In this alternate timeline, Indianapolis, Vancouver, Phoenix, Nashville, and Charlotte were chosen as the finalists for the rights to two expansion franchises. Two cities stood out from the pack to the NFL. Charlotte, NC was an up and coming city in 1995 and Indianapolis was without an NFL franchise and campaigned very strongly to be granted one of the two proposed franchises. Ultimately Charlotte and Indianapolis were granted the two expansion franchises, and the NFL unveiled the new division formats for each conference.

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Now, for the fun part, naming the new teams. Indianapolis looked at at least four different identities, including, Racers, Mastodons, Kings, Defenders, and Guardians. Ultimately, Guardians was decided upon and the ownership unveiled the new team's helmet and logo

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The colors were inspired by the city's flag and the logo is a depiction of the statue of Nike, Greek goddess of victory who watches over the city from her perch atop the Soldiers and Sailors Monument, which stands in Monument Circle in downtown Indianapolis.

Charlotte's ownership group had decided to name the team Carolina, instead of Charlotte to appeal to citizens of both North and South Carolina. The ownership group chose the moniker of Panthers and a color scheme that consisted of silver, black and "Carolina" blue.

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The nickname and logo were inspired by the local Native American art and legends regarding the mysterious creature known as Bigfoot, or Sasquatch. The team colors of teal, copper and black were based colors of the region's forests and wildlife.

Finally, both teams unveiled their uniforms on the day before training camp:

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carolinaexpaway_zps5b60e8cf.png

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awayuniform_zps8b9f2ac0.png

So, this is it for now. What does everybody think? Is this too far fetched? and are the uniform, sufficiently 90's enough? I'm still working on team histories and future uniform updates. Please let me know what you guys think. Any suggestions for the 2002 expansion?

Anyway, Thanks for taking a look at incredibly long and explanation of an unlikely scenario. C&C is definitely appreciated.

EDIT: Vancouver was replaced with the real world Carolina Panthers, who now exist in this alternate reality.

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I admire your effort and work, but my oh my, that Vancouver helmet is ugly. :o

They both are...the Indy team looks like a 90s Buffalo Bills unifom thrown in a blender. :D

I see your inspiration for the Vancouver team.

1995_2000_vancouver_grizzlies_uniforms_b

Thankfully the NFL has never made the mistake of going to Canada.

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First of all, I love the idea of an NFL where no team was allowed to move. That was the way it was supposed to be under their antitrust exemption following the NFL-AFL merger. If you want to stay true to that ideal, you should keep the Raiders in Oakland.

I'm reasonably confident that even if there hadn't been relocations, that Charlotte would have gotten an expansion team. It was a really up-and-coming city in the '90s. Perhaps Carolina Panthers and Phoenix Jaguars?

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I admire your effort and work, but my oh my, that Vancouver helmet is ugly. :o

They both are...the Indy team looks like a 90s Buffalo Bills unifom thrown in a blender. :D

I'm glad you find them ugly, that's kinda what I was going for. I went back and forth between a red and white helmet for Indy so maybe I will post the white one because I definitely can see the Bills comparisons, but I thought the baby blue would differentiate the two teams enough.

Oh, and honestly I really wasn't thinking of the Grizzlies when I chose those colors, I really just wanted to use teal and I thought the copper went with it really well.

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First of all, I love the idea of an NFL where no team was allowed to move. That was the way it was supposed to be under their antitrust exemption following the NFL-AFL merger. If you want to stay true to that ideal, you should keep the Raiders in Oakland.

I'm reasonably confident that even if there hadn't been relocations, that Charlotte would have gotten an expansion team. It was a really up-and-coming city in the '90s. Perhaps Carolina Panthers and Phoenix Jaguars?

Sounds good to me... Phoenix was to the 80s what Charlotte was to the 90s. If the Cardinals hadn't moved there, Phoenix most certainly would've been at the top of the list for an expansion team.

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First of all, I love the idea of an NFL where no team was allowed to move. That was the way it was supposed to be under their antitrust exemption following the NFL-AFL merger. If you want to stay true to that ideal, you should keep the Raiders in Oakland.

I'm reasonably confident that even if there hadn't been relocations, that Charlotte would have gotten an expansion team. It was a really up-and-coming city in the '90s. Perhaps Carolina Panthers and Phoenix Jaguars?

Sounds good to me... Phoenix was to the 80s what Charlotte was to the 90s. If the Cardinals hadn't moved there, Phoenix most certainly would've been at the top of the list for an expansion team.

Okay, so Carolina instead of Vancouver. Fair enough. I was actually planning going with Phoenix because I know how much the city and its suburbs have grown in the past decade or so and another city that I'm still undecided on for the next expansion in 2002 or 1999 . Any suggestions for the other city? I was leaning toward Nashville, TN.

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Phoenix had a group in 1984 that wanted to get an expansion team. They were going to call the team the Firebirds.

Bart Starr was going to be the HC, and Thomas Stoen was going to be the owner. They bought land on the Gila Indian Reservation for the purpose of building a stadium.

A good WI would be "No USFL in 1983". There would have been expansion in the mid-80's if that league didn't exist, most likely.

Phoenix would have been one of the teams, and then, maybe something would have been worked out with Indy, Baltimore, and the Irsays regarding the other.

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I'm biased, but I would love to see the NFL move to Canada. Can't be a worse idea than watching Jacksonville's stadium sit half empty most of the time.

I admire your effort and work, but my oh my, that Vancouver helmet is ugly. :o

They both are...the Indy team looks like a 90s Buffalo Bills unifom thrown in a blender. :D

I see your inspiration for the Vancouver team.

1995_2000_vancouver_grizzlies_uniforms_b

Thankfully the NFL has never made the mistake of going to Canada.

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I'm biased, but I would love to see the NFL move to Canada. Can't be a worse idea than watching Jacksonville's stadium sit half empty most of the time.

I admire your effort and work, but my oh my, that Vancouver helmet is ugly. :o

They both are...the Indy team looks like a 90s Buffalo Bills unifom thrown in a blender. :D

I see your inspiration for the Vancouver team.

1995_2000_vancouver_grizzlies_uniforms_b

Thankfully the NFL has never made the mistake of going to Canada.

I agree, we need NFL in Canada.

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would Tennessee Titans still exist in this alternate history of national football league

Maybe, maybe not. As of now, the Oilers are in Houston and I don't have any plans on moving them, but a team in Nashville, possibly known as the Titans is still in the cards for the next expansion to 32 teams.

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