Team Names – A Question Of Identity

A Question of Identity

What’s in a name? Its interesting tracking the name changes of professional football franchises, and its not entirely uncommon for a team to change names. Name changes can happen for a variety of reasons, most notably because of a change in venue.

The New York Jets were originally the New York Titans.

The Tennessee Titans were originally the Houston Oilers.

The Kansas City Chiefs were originally the Dallas Texans.

The Cleveland Browns moved to Baltimore and became the Baltimore Ravens (due to an agreement with the NFL to not continue as the Browns).

The Chicago Bears were originally the Decatur Staleys, then the Chicago Staleys before settling on the Bears.

But, changing the geographic portion of a team name happens less and almost only when a team relocates to a different area.

The Cleveland Rams became the Los Angeles Rams and then eventually the St. Louis Rams because of the team moving.

The Baltimore Colts became the Indianapolis Colts.

The Los Angeles Chargers became the San Diego Chargers.

The Oakland Raiders became the Los Angeles Raiders and then moved back to Oakland to become the Oakland Raiders again.

So, name changes for teams are not unheard of. But, a team changing the geographic portion of their name when they don’t relocate to a new area is a more unusual occurance.

The Los Angeles Rams at one point became the Anaheim Rams without moving.

The Phoenix Cardinals became the Arizona Cardinals without moving.

This is primarily done for marketing purposes and to appeal to either a wider or more select audience. The biggest user of this method would be Major League Baseball’s Angels who have gone from the Los Angeles Angels, to the California Angels, to the Anaheim Angels, and finally to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

The remaining name change scenario is a team that does relocate but chooses not to change their name. This unlikely scenario was enacted by both New York franchises (the Giants and the Jets) when they each relocated to the neighboring state of New Jersey.

Charting the evolution of a team’s name can prove an interesting part of that team’s history.

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