What do Troy Polamalu, Coca-Cola and steel have in common? As fate would have it, Steelers safety Polamalu will appear in a Coca-Cola ad Super Bowl Sunday – and not only bring back memories of the 1980 commercial where "Mean Joe Greene gets comforted by a kid who hands him a coke" – but will carry two strong brands and the crushing strength of the Steelers' defensive line with him.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ famed three-star logo is one of the most familiar symbols in sports, partly because steel's inherent strength and toughness is a perfect match for the Steelers' highly touted, bone-crunching defense. Only the steel trademarked logo found on the Steelers helmet brings worldwide recognition and appreciation for these strengths.
Seven decades after Art Rooney purchased the NFL franchise and five Super Bowl victories later, it has come to symbolize the strength of the team and the Steel City it represents. But how many fans know what the starlike figures mean and where the logo came from?
In fact, the three four-pointed starlike figures within the circle, called hypocycloids for their geometric origin, made it to the NFL in 1962, when Rooney adopted the Steelmark for his football team. The Steelers logo is based on the Steelmark logo belonging to the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI). The Steelmark was originally created for United States Steel Corporation to promote the attributes of steel: yellow lightens your work; orange brightens your leisure; and blue widens your world. The logo's meaning was later amended to represent the three materials used to produce steel: yellow for coal; orange for iron ore; and blue for steel scrap.
Back in the early 1960s, the Steelers had to petition the AISI in order to change the word "Steel" inside the Steelmark to "Steelers" before the logo was complete. Cleveland's Republic Steel suggested to the Steelers that they use the Steelmark as a helmet logo.
The Steelers are the only NFL team that sports their logo on only one side of the helmet. At first, this was a temporary measure because the Steelers weren't sure they would like the look of the logo on an all-gold helmet. They wanted to test them before going all-out.
Equipment manager back then Jack Hart was instructed to put the logo only on one side of the helmet – the right side. The 1962 Steelers finished with a 9-5 mark and became the team with the most wins in franchise history to date. The team finished second in the Eastern Conference and qualified for the Playoff Bowl. They wanted to do something special for their first postseason game, so they changed the color of their helmets from gold to black, which helped to highlight the new logo.
Because of the interest generated by having the logo on only one side of their helmets and also due to the team's new success, the Steelers decided to leave the helmet that way permanently. Today's helmet reflects the way the logo was originally applied and it has never been changed.
AISI serves as the voice of the North American steel industry in the public policy arena and advances the case for steel in the marketplace as the preferred material of choice. AISI also plays a lead role in the development and application of new steels and steelmaking technology. AISI is comprised of 25 member companies, including integrated and electric furnace steelmakers, and 130 associate and affiliate members who are suppliers to or customers of the steel industry. AISI's member companies represent over 70 percent of both U.S. and North American steel capacity.