Bears change primary logo to mascot head

The move won’t change what the Bears wear on the field.

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The Bears’ bear head and wishbone C logos.

The Bears’ stenciled bear head logo has been changed to their primary mark. Their helmets will remain the same.

Nam Y. Huh/AP

Quietly this offseason, the Bears made their bear-head logo their primary one.

Loudly this week, Bears fans questioned what it all means. Conspiracy theorists found the change on the team’s brand-guidelines website. They speculated that downgrading the Bears’ wishbone “C” logo from co-primary to secondary meant the franchise was disassociating itself from Chicago as part of a potential move to Arlington Heights.

No, no and no.

The logo swap won’t change what the Bears wear on the field. The wishbone “C,” which has been the logo the team has worn on its helmets since 1962, will remain in the same place it always has been. So will the wishbone “C” at Soldier Field’s 50-yard line. Fans will see the bear head more in graphics during televised broadcasts and highlight shows.

A team spokesman said the shift had nothing to do with the team’s potential move out of Chicago. The Bears purchased the former Arlington International Racecourse site in Arlington Heights in February. Their frustration with property-tax assessments has led them to flirt with other suburbs and re-engage in conversations with the city about staying on the lakefront.

Besides, if the Bears move to the suburbs, they’d still be called the Chicago Bears — and there would be no reason to mothball the “C.” Geographical accuracy has long eluded the NFL: The Dallas Cowboys play in Arlington, Texas, and the New York Jets and Giants play in New Jersey.

The Bears had increasingly featured the bear-head logo — long a favorite of chairman George McCaskey — in recent years, swapping it in for the wishbone “C” in news-conference backdrops and in certain in-house materials. They’re interchangeable at Halas Hall, where the address sign features a bear-head logo and visitors must walk through the front doors under a giant “C.”

McCaskey and the Bears think the bear-head logo is distinct. The wishbone ‘‘C’’ certainly isn’t.

The old Chicago Cardinals once wore a version of it. The University of Chicago donned it as early as 1898. Major League Baseball’s Reds wore it for the first time in 1905 — and still do. Cleveland’s baseball team did, too. The Cubs wore a version of it with a bear inside.

The Bears’ version has an underbite, where the bottom of the ‘‘C’’ sticks out — see it once, and you’ll never unsee it — but it’s hardly unique.

“The Bear head has been a co-primary mark for many years,” the team said in a statement Thursday morning. “It is unique to the Chicago Bears brand. This minor change simply provides clarity for retail, media and other team and league partners to start the creative process with the Bear head.”

The details, according to the Bears’ brand guidelines: The bear head should never be reproduced at less than a half-inch wide, while the “C” can be. The “C” is also their preferred mark on embroidered items.

That’s a lot less thrilling than a conspiracy theory. But as the Bears have proved on the field in recent years, the truth isn’t always exciting.

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