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Patriots Hall of Fame history lesson: Evolution of the logo, uniform and name

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The information included in this article is attributed to The Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon.

For the past 27 years, the Patriots have been represented by the Flying Elvis – a profile of a Revolutionary War soldier. The silver silhouette is framed by his blue tricorn hat, a silver star and a pop of red in the back.

When the Patriots first introduced the Flying Elvis logo in 1993, it was meant to usher in a new era. While the previous Pat Patriot logo was and is beloved, with a new coach, owner and uniform, the Flying Elvis became the symbol of a new day in Foxborough.

But long before either came into the picture or were stitched onto the fabric of any jersey, there were funny, strange and forgotten moments in Patriots history that got us to this current iteration.

Before Pat came to life, the Patriots logo was, well, a bit more understated. A lone tricorn hat was the first symbol of the Patriots organization beginning in 1960. In a meta moment, it was an article of clothing on an article of clothing.

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The design was submitted by a local football fan named Walter J. Pingree, who mailed in his suggestions to then-owner Billy Sullivan. Though it only lasted a single season on the Patriots helmets, it is and will always be the first logo of the franchise.

The End Zone Militia still honor the tradition, however, and rock their own, authentic versions every Sunday at home.

After Sullivan saw a drawing in The Boston Globe, the tricorn hat became a thing of the past. Phil Bissel's drawing of Pat Patriot became the iconic logo that lasted 60 years.

Pat Patriot, in his original form, faces head-on, ready to snap the football. He is ready for a fight, whether it's on the football field or the battlefield. And while he is an iconic representative of the franchise, the amount of detail on the design made it difficult to replicate for merchandising and promotion.

In 1976, the Patriots nearly walked away from him altogether. In partnership with the NFL, a new logo was set to be introduced in honor of the United States Bicentennial. Ultimately, the design was put on hold until the 1979 season.

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The new pitch showed the profile of a soldier with three red stripes trailing behind him, almost as if it was a flag. The sideview of it has some "thickness," Bryan Morry, Executive Director of The Patriots Hall of Fame presented by Raytheon, said, likening it to Mount Rushmore.

Knowing the Pat Patriot logo was the favorite among fans, the decision was made to put the new logo up for a fan vote on Sept. 16 during a game against the Chargers.

"The problem with the old logo was that it was too intricate to use on things and market well," Morry said. "It's difficult to recreate. When it's small, it's really difficult. You can't make out the features on it. I think Billy Sullivan got cold feet on the whole concept, so to get out of changing the logo they put it to the fans at a game where he knew what they were going to pick."

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When the new logo was introduced, Patriots fans made it clear they wanted Pat Patriot to remain. Boos filled the stadium, and the new logo was shot down.

As wild as it may seem to have a fan vote determine a major organizational decision, it wasn't the first time in Patriots history such a thing happened. In fact, that is how the name "Patriots" came to be.

On Feb. 20, 1960, the nickname "Patriots" was decided after a public contest ran by The Boston Globe. While 74 people wrote in suggesting the Patriots, other submissions included the Colonials, Pilgrims, Puritans, Braves, Beantowners and Minute Men.

Ultimately, the name Patriots was selected. For 11 years, the team was known was the Boston Patriots. On March 20, 1971, the switch was made to represent the entire region, and since then, it's been the New England Patriots.

The next time the Patriots made a big change to the logo and uniform, it was not determined by a fan vote. Though James Orthwein's tenure as Patriots owner was short, just the 1992 and 1993 seasons before selling the team to Robert Kraft in 1994, this era ushered in change for the organization.

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The Patriots uniforms went from the classic, now-retro red to royal blue. Along with a uniform change came the Flying Elvis as we know it today. The switch from red to blue was a nod, in part, to the fact that the British wore red during the Revolution. As Patriots, it just made sense to switch to blue. This was also the first time that silver was introduced to the uniform.

The royal blues were the primary uniform of the team until 2000, undergoing slight changes over the years, including italicized names on the uniforms and a striped pattern on the jersey.

In 2000, the royal blue uniforms were put away, and the navy-blue uniforms that were introduced. While over the years, the team has worn alternate jerseys for throwback games or the NFL "color rush" program, the primary jerseys have been navy at home and white with blue pants on the road.

From the colors and logos to the uniforms and team names, the Patriots have always been rooted in their rich New England history, even as they strive to create a different kind of history on the football field.

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