Feb. 1, 2009— -- The National Football League is all about speed, strength and intimidation, so a little meanness can go a long way -- not just for the players, but also for the mascots.
In 2005, after five last-place finishes in 10 years, and only one winning season in the same time period, the Arizona Cardinals were in desperate need of a makeover.
So for the first time in 45 years, the Cardinals changed their logo, giving their red bird a sharper beak, menacing eyes and a little bit of attitude.
According to the NFL's creative director, Shandon Melvin, the Cardinals wanted to stay true to their long -- yet unsuccessful -- history and still send the message that the team was moving in a new direction. It was moving into a sleek new stadium and needed a new look to match.
"It was very much an evolutionary step, to make it look sleeker and faster," Melvin said. "We tried more revolutionary ideas but they felt too disconnected."
And now, in just a few years, that fiercer-looking fowl has helped the Cardinals to their first Super Bowl in franchise history.
The Cardinals aren't the only team to hit a hot streak after giving their mascot a dose of meanness.
"The reason it's so powerful is it changes the mindset of the coaches, the players, the fans," said Melvin. "It's kind of like when you buy a new piece of clothing, you feel better."
The Denver Broncos lost four Super Bowls before giving their bucking bronco logo a little more bite. The very next year, with a less-happy horse on their helmets, the Broncos won their first of back-to-back Super Bowls.
The New England Patriots only became a juggernaut after revamping their look in 1993, when their cartoonish minuteman logo, nicknamed Pat the Patriot, morphed into a more stalwart looking patriot.
And the once-woeful Tampa Bay Buccaneers found Super Bowl salvation a few years after changing their creamsicle-colored uniforms to a more surly pirate pewter.
A color change also helped the Seattle Seahawks, who switched to a different shade of blue in 2002 to give the seahawk logo a meaner scowl and more threatening eyes. The team went on to make the playoffs for five consecutive seasons and appeared in their first Super Bowl in 2006.
Creating a new look for an NFL team can take years. The designs typically go through six or seven drafts and then are tested with fan focus groups.
"We physically make up a sample uniform and bring it into a room and hear the fans' feedback," said Melvin. "We take the fans' input very seriously."
The NFL goes to great lengths to make sure the uniforms look good in a variety of ways. Uniforms and logos are even tested in simulated games in front of cameras to see how they look on television, including indoor and outdoor stadiums to account for different lighting conditions.