Just for the record, I decided to talk about the Tennessee Titans logo history separately from the Houston Oilers, as well as the Oilers’ two seasons as the Tennessee Oilers. This is because while the two teams are technically one franchise and one history – unlike the Browns-Ravens situation, there is hardly a connection between the Oilers and Titans, especially after the 2018 uniform swap gave the Titans their own sense of identity while a couple of their former uniforms resembled the Oilers.
That said, we’re only talking about the Titans and not the Oilers, who will be included when I hit the eight original AFL franchises. However, this won’t affect the New York Jets (known as the Titans of New York for three seasons), or the Kansas City Chiefs, who played as the Dallas Texans. This is simply due to the fact the two teams played the vast majority of their history as the Jets and Chiefs, respectively.
The Oilers spent thirty-seven seasons in Houston and two seasons as the Tennessee Oilers, so maybe seventeen years from now in 2037 I’ll change my mind, but that day’s a long way off.
Ready to talk about the Titans’ logo?
Good, me too.
The Flaming Thumbtack
Yes, the flaming thumbtack logo is and has been associated with the Titans since the team’s inception in 1999 when they made the move to change their name from Oilers to Titans. This logo kind of resembled a comet, with a navy circle preceding red and Columbia blue (known as Titans blue) flames. The circle, outlined in white, Titans blue, and navy, contains a thumbtack-shaped T and three red stars, a nod to the Flag of Tennessee.
Again, this logo has been the primary helmet logo over the course of two uniform combinations and two helmet colors, with the team donning white helmets from 1999-2017, the same as during the team’s heyday as the Oilers. Today, the helmet is navy with not a single change in the logo.
The Alternate Logo
The T-Sword logo serves as the team’s alternate but has never appeared on the helmet – which would be kind of cool, don’t get me wrong. The red-hilted sword gleams white and silver, with a navy shield outlined in red with three stars within the shield, depicting the State of Tennessee.
Some have claimed the T-Sword logo is an upside-down oil derrick, which of course would reference the old Houston Oilers. I don’t know about you, but click the link above to see the logo for yourself. I don’t see an upside-down derrick, but I do see a logo that puts the thumbtack to shame.
Okay, the Titans have three of these.
The first came about in 2008, to celebrate the team’s tenth season as the Titans and their tenth in Nashville. Remember, the Oilers were in Memphis, not Nashville, in 1997 and 1998. 2009 saw a patch where the team celebrated 50 seasons as the Oilers/Titans – and the team even threw back to their Oiler days this season as part of the AFL’s 50th Anniversary. This marks the only time the team has done so during their time in Nashville.
And finally, the 20th-anniversary logo was unveiled in 2018, with the T-Sword in the backdrop – if only they could’ve put the logo on the helmet…
Because I’m not just an NFL uniform historian, I’m also a freaking critic and opinionated as hell, so I’ll give you a take on what I feel about these logos.
The flaming thumbtack sucks. It looks even worse on the navy helmets because they look far too much like the current Houston franchise – the Texans. Look, if you wanted to look like Houston so badly you may as well stayed in the city. Of course, with the way uniforms have gone in the late-1990s and early-2000s, had the team stayed where they belonged, we probably would’ve seen the navy creep out of this uniform eventually.
Columbia blue would’ve been navy, and the derrick would’ve been navy. The only hint of Columbia would’ve been as an accent color. The team would’ve adopted navy pants for the road jersey and probably would’ve had a mono look. This would’ve happened in 2003 at the latest when teams unveiled third jerseys.
And there’d be no Texans – probably would’ve been some LA team like the Southern California Sun, LA Wildcats, or LA Xtreme, or something like that. I don’t know – but for the love of the football gods, can you put the T-Sword on the helmet?