The Carolina Panthers have altered their logo for the first time in the franchise's 18-year history, making slight refinements to provide what the team called "a more aggressive, contemporary look."
"We have one of the finest and most recognizable logos in the NFL and wanted to make it as modern as possible without losing the dramatic essence of the mark," Panthers President Danny Morrison said.
Left unsaid is how much - if any - the uniforms will change for the 2012 season other than incorporating the new logo into the helmets and jerseys.
Nike has taken over from Reebok as the NFL's official uniform provider for 2012. In conjunction with that move, there have been rumors the Panthers' uniforms will be tweaked by the NFL.
A team spokesman declined comment Sunday night on whether the uniforms would change. But a source close to the team said the uniforms were not expected to be altered dramatically.
The Panthers had not planned to release their new logo Sunday night during the NFL's Pro Bowl game as they ultimately did. But their hand was forced by a picture posted on Facebook by Nike Football and some resulting questions from the Observer.
The Nike Football Facebook page showed 32 pictures of different versions of a new NFL glove produced by Nike, each with an NFL team logo. Instead of the logo the Panthers have used since they began play in 1995, the Nike Panthers gloves carried a logo close to - but not identical - to the new logo the Panthers were getting ready to unveil within the next few days or weeks. To avoid confusion, the Panthers sped up their internal timetable.
The NFL's creative department was responsible for tinkering with the Panthers' logo. The primary changes are in the eyes, whisker and mouth area. The presence of the Panthers' blue color also has become more striking in the logo.
The Panthers plan to transition to the new logo throughout 2012. They also have changed their primary logo typeface.
"It is a cleaner style that is easier to read and should be more applicable to different uses," Morrison said.