The voters, nearly 20,000 strong, have spoken.
The shield is out. The bird is in.
And when the 1999 Ravens take the field this season, they will be sporting a new logo their fans have demanded.
The team will wear helmets marked by the profile of a raven's head. That decision was made by voters who spent two days voicing their logo preferences in a Sun poll, which concluded on Friday.
In all, 18,708 voters, about 1,000 of whom made their choices known on the team's Web site, participated. The profile logo received 7,107 votes, while a straight-on look of a raven's head came in second with 6,256. Trailing in third place was a shield featuring elements of the Maryland state flag with the initials B and R.
"I'm excited that the fans in Baltimore had the opportunity to speak, and it's obvious, with close to 20,000 calls coming in, that the fans were interested in being heard," said David Modell, the team's president. "Their voice continues to shape the face of this organization."
The court of law ultimately set the team's search for a new look in motion. Four months ago, a federal jury ruled the team's original primary logo -- a shield featuring a "B" and accompanying wings -- had been copied from Frederick Bouchat, an amateur Baltimore artist who had faxed his idea to team officials three years ago.
Lawyers for the Ravens and the NFL, who are appealing that November decision, claim the design was independently created at NFL Properties.
Bouchat sued for $10 million in damages and whatever profits the team has made from the use of his design. That could include millions of dollars worth of hats, T-shirts and other souvenirs. And while a separate jury will determine Bouchat's final compensation amount, the team had no interest in entering the 1999 season while wearing a contested mark.
Modell said the team had thought about making a logo change internally, but as fans began calling him and other team officials relentlessly with suggestions, the Ravens decided to let the people have a definitive say.
"It got to the point where I just couldn't respond to everyone. I was getting at least 15 to 20 calls a day," Modell said. "We said at the outset that one of the things we would do was listen."
Modell even received a petition signed by several hundred fans with specific logo demands.
Modell added that the bird profile will be spruced up with a touch of sharper color. He also is interested in having a "B" displayed somewhere in the design.
"It isn't going to be that significant of a change," Modell said. "We just want to give it a little more vibrancy."
Pub Date: 2/28/99