Who had the power G logo first - Green Bay, Georgia, Grambling…..or was it Rye High?
Once a Garnet, always a Garnet! Living in Rye with children attending Rye High School we are now of course Garnet fans! With the first of our children graduating in 2020 we set out to design a unique keepsake for this special occasion.
The Garnet girls loved and still love their pendant! (ps: if you are interested in a a pendant for your school, college, wedding or special occasion, let us know.)
Our school district is not the only one using the big G logo. There are 4 other schools in the USA who use the exact same logo!??? Our beautiful handmade pendant also makes a perfect gift for anyone at:
- Rye High School | @rhsgarnets | Go Garnets!
- University of Georgia | @universityofga | Go Bulldogs!
- Green Bay Packers | @packers | Go Pack Go!
- Grambling State University | @grambling1901 | Go Tigers!
- Greenwood High School | @ghsgatoraid | Go Gators!
This always brings up the question: Who had the power G logo first - Green Bay, Georgia, Grambling…..or was it Rye High?
Joe Vitale explains it all in his article (April 4th, 2019).
We have copied and pasted his article below. Enjoy!
While visiting friends in scenic Rye, New York several weeks ago, I was pleasantly surprised to see a University of Georgia ‘Power G’ flag flying from the front porch of a New England-style home. Several minutes later, I was a bit more surprised to notice a Power G banner above the window of a local restaurant. Shortly thereafter, an Audi passed me with the iconic red and black ‘G’ plastered to the rear window. Wow…what were the odds there were three Georgia Bulldog fans in this quaint, Westchester County hamlet?
So I stopped the teens and asked the meaning of the logo on their sweatshirts. They stated they were students at Rye High School and the team name is the Garnets. A young man mentioned the teams colors are garnet and black and Rye High is the only high school in town. Ahhh…. so I wasn’t in some type of time warp…there is another red and black Power G out there.
So being curious, we wanted to know why the similarity. We found Stephen Feeney, a 1965 graduate of Rye High, a career financier, former president of the Board of Education, a lifelong Rye resident, editor of the Rye Football Journal and a local historian. Mr. Feeney was quite gracious in sharing the story of Rye High’s connection to the Georgia logo.
He wrote that back in the day, high schools didn’t have team names; they just went by color. But when nearby rival Harrison High had a vote to pick a mascot 57 years ago and became the Huskies, other local schools followed suit. Rye, whose colors were garnet and black—due to the supply of garnet ore found while excavating the school’s foundation during the Great Depression, simply became the Garnets.
We talked with Mr. Feeney further, and asked, we understood a “G” as the logo, but why our Georgia “G”? Feeney theorized that the design most likely came from the Green Bay Packers, who were extremely popular in the late 50’s and early 60’s. Since Garnet does start with a “G”, most likely Rye borrowed the Packers’ logo. In addition, the block lettering was popularized by schools such as Michigan and Illinois, so putting the “G” on the helmets in the block font Rye used was trendy at the time.
“We would call the University Bookstore in Athens and purchase hats, flags and pennants to be shipped to Rye,” Mr. Feeney said. “After several orders, they were kind enough to give us the name of their distributor so we could purchase direct,” he continued.
Indeed, the Garnet “G” was almost identical to the “G” used by the University of Georgia….. and Grambling and the Green Bay Packers. So who had it first?
Rye Garnets students cheer during the Harrison game Oct. 7, 2018 at Rye High School. Rye won, 41-14 in the 89th renewal of the Westchester County (NY) schools’ rivalry. Photo Courtesy of Tania Savayan/The Journal News
According to the University of Georgia athletic website, in 1963 after becoming the Bulldogs’ Head Football Coach, Vince Dooley redesigned the uniforms choosing a red helmet with a black “G” on a white background as the dominant feature of the new uniform for the 1964 season.
Dooley had just hired John Donaldson, former Georgia player from 1945 to 1948, as backfield coach. John was keen on the idea of a new image and volunteered his wife, Anne, who had a BFA in commercial art from UGA to design a logo for the new Georgia helmet with the general specifications Dooley had outlined. Dooley accepted Anne’s original “G” which fit his vision for a forward look to Georgia’s new emblem.
Since the Georgia “G”- though different in design and color- was similar to Green Bay’s “G”, Coach Dooley thought it best to clear the use of Georgia’s new emblem with the NFL team. Athletic Director Joel Eaves called for permission which was granted. However, since its inception in 1961, the Green Bay “G” has been redesigned several times and now looks like Georgia’s original 1964 “G.”
But what about the Grambling State University “G”? Did the Tiger’s distinctive black and gold logo predate Georgia’s and Green Bay’s Power G? The Tiger’s logo was first used on their helmets in 1974. It was chosen in part as a tribute to Willie Davis, who had graduated from Grambling and gone on to become the school’s first Hall of Famer while playing for Green Bay. Grambling tried to register the logo but too much time had lapsed and the school slightly redesigned the brand in 2005.
The Green Bay Packers had added the familiar oval “G” logo in 1961 when Vince Lombardi asked Packers equipment manager Gerald “Dad” Braisher to design a logo. Braisher tasked his assistant, St. Norbert College art student John Gordon. In 24 hours, Gordon sketched the initial draft. Satisfied with a white on green football-shaped letter “G”, the pair presented it to Lombardi, who then approved the addition. Since its inception in 1961, the Green Bay “G” has been redesigned several times and now looks more similar to Georgia’s original 1964 “G.”
Let’s toss in another team in the mix. The Greenwood (South Carolina) High School Eagles, a powerhouse in Palmetto State prep football, also were an early user of a logo similar to the Packers’. In 1962, when the school was known as the Emeralds, a green oval with a gold G first appeared on the team’s helmets. The Emeralds were most likely the second team in the nation to sport the oval background with the forward G.
However, is that the real story behind the Georgia brand? Apparently not and Coach Dooley may know the answer. According to Kirby Towns, a third generation Bulldog football letterman from Evans, Georgia (2000-2002), it appears his father, former Georgia running back, Bobby Towns, who played football and ran track as a Bulldog, and played for the AFL Boston Patriots and NFL St. Louis Cardinals from 1960-1961, had a major role in the creation of the Georgia logo.
Towns was released by the Patriots and had a tryout with the Packers. After not catching on in Green Bay, one of the Packers’ assistant equipment managers gave him a bag of Packer paraphernalia, including a single G helmet sticker. Towns liked the sticker and placed it on the back window of his Thunderbird.
Bobby Towns’ father was Forrest “Spec” Towns, the legendary Olympian and long-time head track coach at Georgia. Spec Towns noticed the sticker on his son’s Thunderbird and Bobby mentioned the Green Bay equipment bag he was given. In the category of a very small world, that Green Bay equipment manager happened to be “Pap” Eberhardt, the father of Spec Towns’ wife. Towns called his father-in-law and Pap sent his son-in-law a few G stickers, and let Coach Towns know where he had the stickers produced. Coach Towns put one on a plain silver helmet and showed it to Dooley. As the story goes, Coach Dooley liked it and said they should move forward. For one year, the G was on a silver helmet. Georgia had many concept uniforms the next season, one being a red helmet with the G. There were no copyrights or trademarks for single letters back then, so there were no legal ramifications.
So we have the family of a third generation Georgia football letterman, Kirby Matthew Towns, whose father, grandfather and great grandfather may be responsible for the nationally-recognized Georgia logo. Let’s give credit to the Green Bay Packers for the original logo, the Greenwood High Emeralds and Rye High School Garnets for taking it to the prep level and to the Georgia Bulldogs’ for taking the Red & Black Power “G” to an iconic level.