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List of NFL Teams That Have Changed Names

If you follow NFL, the top league of American Football, you are aware of teams changing their names over time, but did you know that there are only 11 of the current NFL teams that have ever changed their names? Here is a list of all of them.

Washington Redskins - 1958 Topps American football card
Washington Redskins - 1958 Topps American football card
  • Arizona Cardinals (formerly St. Louis Cardinals): The team was founded in 1898, and originally called the Racine Cardinals after the street where they played their home games. In 1944, the Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Steelers combined to form “Card-Pitt” during the last full year of World War II. They later moved to St. Louis in 1950 and were known as the St. Louis Cardinals. In 1999, they relocated to Arizona and became known as the Arizona Cardinals.
  • Baltimore Ravens (formerly Baltimore Browns): The Cleveland Browns became the Baltimore Browns after moving to Baltimore. The NFL franchise chose the name “Ravens” because of a poem by Baltimore’s famous former resident Edgar Allan Poe.
  • Chicago Bears (formerly Chicago Staleys): They were the Decatur Staleys for their first two seasons until they moved to Chicago in 1921. They played as the Chicago Staleys until changing Staleys to the Bears, a reference to the town’s MLB team which was called the Chicago Cubs.
  • Detroit Lions (formerly Portsmouth Spartans): From 1930 to 1933, the team was known as the “Portsmouth Spartans” as they trained at the Spartan Municipal Stadium. After moving to Detroit, the team changed its name to the Lions, a reference to the town’s MLB “Tigers” team.
  • Indianapolis Colts (formerly Baltimore Colts): Indiana’s NFL franchise was referred to as the Baltimore Colts from 1953-1983. The team moved from Baltimore to Indianapolis in 1984. The team was named the “Colts” in reference to the area’s history of horse breeding.
  • Kansas City Chiefs (formerly Dallas Texans): This team was known as the Dallas Texans until they moved to Kansas City after the 1962 AFL season. The nickname comes from then-mayor Harold Roe Bartle, whose nickname was "Chief."
  • New York Jets (formerly New York Titans): The Jets were known as the Titans from 1960-1962. After moving to the Shea Stadium in 1963, they were called the Jets in homage to the aircraft in the skies above. The club never won a game as the Titans, so a name change was warranted.
  • Philadelphia Eagles (formerly the Steagles): The Eagles were created when the Frankford Yellow Jackets went defunct. In 1943, they merged with the Pittsburgh Steelers and were known as the Phil-Pitt "Steagles" for that year.
  • Pittsburgh Steelers (formerly the Pittsburgh Pirates): In 1940 they decided to change the NFL franchise’s name to something different than the MLB’s name at the time. The name ‘Steelers’ honors the city's steelworkers. The Steelers also had name changes during World War II when they merged with the Eagles in 1943 and the Cardinals in 1944.
  • Tennessee Titans (formerly Houston Oilers): Originally established as the Houston Oilers in 1960, the team relocated to Tennessee in 1997 and underwent a name change to the Tennessee Titans to signify a fresh start for the franchise in their new home city of Nashville.
  • Washington Football Team (formerly Washington Redskins): In July 2020, the NFL team based in Washington, D.C., announced that they would retire their controversial name and logo, which were widely criticized as racially insensitive towards Native Americans. The team has temporarily re-branded as the Washington Football Team while they work on selecting a new permanent name.

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