The History of NFL Uniforms


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History Loaded Weekend

Two throwback games made things fun this weekend. Chiefs vs. Cowboys and Broncos vs. Patriots. Coincidence that both games ended in overtime? Hmmmm.

The biggest news of both of these all throwback games was that the Denver Broncos wore their famous vertical striped socks from their 1960-61 seasons. The Broncos organization went all out and added 1960's flair to the whole game throughout the stadium. The end zones were painted with a white argyle-type design, the video boards showed much of the game in black-and-white, and there was a border around the screens to make them look like 1960s-style televisions.

Denver's cheerleaders were in sweaters and long skirts with big, fluffy pom-poms and danced to music from the era.

Broncos PR guy Dave Gaylinn was dressed in a mustard-colored blazer in the press box, with his press pass tucked in the headband of his fedora.

The game program also had an old-school design, with a classic Coca-Cola ad on the back.

The other all throwback game was between the Chiefs (Texans) and the Cowboys. The game made for an interesting afternoon because it paired the Dallas Texans vs. Dallas Cowboys. The Chiefs did not have as much fun as the Broncos' organization, but it was still fun to see. One interesting note was that both teams were wearing home uniforms. A rarity in the NFL.

The Chiefs' throwback weekend also prompted an interesting post on the Uni Watch Blog from J.J. Lauderdale:

The Chiefs’ wearing of their Dallas Texans throwback helmet snapped a 548-game streak of the Chiefs wearing nothing but their red shell, arrowhead logo, and white facemask — a streak that began on September 15, 1974, against the Jets. The Chiefs had worn gray facemasks in 1973 before changing to white in ’74.

This is the longest streak in NFL history for a team continuously wearing one helmet with no throwback, no change of logo, no change of facemask color, etc. If you ask people who had the longest streak, most people guess the Cowboys, Steelers, or Raiders and never get to the Chiefs. But many of the teams with the more classic helmets had their streaks broken during the 1994 throwback season (the Steelers, Raiders, and Cardinals, for example), when they wore throwbacks or blank shells. The Chiefs, however, wore their regular lids in 1994, keeping their streak intact.

The four next longest streaks in history are:

Cardinals, 1960-1994: They wore that bird head logo on a white helmet for 499 straight games before using the blank shell for a throwback game against the Browns in 1994.

Raiders, 1964-1994: Wore their current helmet for 446 straight games before going retro for the 1994 75th-anniversary season.

Browns, 1975-2005: 434 straight games for the white-facemask version of their helmet. Then they switched to a gray mask.

Cowboys, 1977-2004: 432 straight games between the 1976 bicentennial helmet (the one with the red stripe) and the first time they donned the white throwbacks.

Now that the Chiefs’ streak has been broken, the longest current streak belongs to the Bengals. They’re at about 238 games, dating back to 1994 (not sure exactly which week they last wore the 1994 throwback helmet, so it may be off a week or two).

The St. Louis Rams also got in on the fun and wore their throwback uniforms.

Sunday Scene, Week 5: Denver, please throw 'em back

That's Denver wide receiver Brandon Marshall(notes) pictured above, dressed as a box of Milk Duds. Or as a member of the 1977 Padres. Or possibly as Austin Carr.

The Broncos wore their 1960 throwback uniforms on Sunday, demonstrating beyond any doubt that life in America in 1960 was miserable. In a truly free society, clothing like that would not happen.

"The design is awful," said tight end Daniel Graham(notes) earlier in the week.

No argument here. It's an abomination. A plague. Hideous. The ugliest thing in the history of team sports. If we've exhausted all other throwback options, then let's just please agree to dress our professional athletes as modern humans from now on.'s cheerleaders were required to throw it back to 1960, too, which is simply unconscionable. They were an entire squad of Marion Cunningham clones, which is, um…not what most of us are looking for.

The Broncos beat the Patriots 20-17 in overtime on Sunday, so there's a decent chance the franchise will consider those throwbacks to be "lucky" and thus worth wearing again. We'll make every effort to warn you next time, and provide instructions for making a pinhole device for safe viewing. You'll find a full Sunday photo gallery here.


The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

(not the views of NFL Uniform History but rather Paule Vagnoni @

Sorry if I caught the attention of Clint Eastwood fans, but this isn’t about spaghetti westerns. Not by a long shot. Today’s column is about current NFL uniforms. The idea for this came when I read Jim Stingl’s JSOnline article about a Milwaukee marketing executive kicking around the idea of changing the Green Bay Packers’ logo. Then I saw the Seattle Seahawks new uniforms. After briefly vomiting in my mouth, I decided to write.

First I made a list of all 32 NFL teams, complete with brief remarks on their
current uniforms. Please notice the emphasis on current. The reason for this is because several teams used to sport classic, good-looking uniforms. But with the present-day need for constant modification, that has all changed. Today, NFL uniforms fall into three basic categories.

The Good, the Bad and the Ugly.

Allow me to describe each of the classifications before revealing my three lists. Hopefully this will help you to understand why I feel the way I do. Rest assured that I am fully qualified, having graduated from Gateway Technical College’s Graphic Design program with Presidential honors and being a NFL fan for well over 45 years.

The Good category features classic, uncluttered uniforms, whose colors are complimentary, yet provide contrast at the same time. Well thought-out striping and style of number are also crucial elements. Less is often more.

Bad is just what it says…Bad! Although not as putrid as an Ugly uniform, the Bad ones have serious faults. Whether it is atrocious color combinations, funky numbers or just poor design, these uniforms don’t have what it takes to make the Good list.

Finally the Ugly. When compiling my lists I discovered that the uniforms I considered Ugly had one of two fatal flaws. I shudder to tell you that a few had them both. One defect is the monochromatic look, the same color used for jersey and pants. A 350-pound lineman doesn’t look good in a unitard. The second foible is extra “stuff” all over the uniform. More often than not, this comes in the form of stripes down the side of the jersey.

With that in mind, here are the lists.

The Good: Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs, New York Giants, Indianapolis Colts, New York Jets, Chicago Bears, Oakland Raiders, Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys.

The Bad: Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, St. Louis Rams, New Orleans Saints, Detroit Lions, Cleveland Browns, Pittsburgh Steelers, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, San Diego Chargers and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Ugly: Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers, Tennessee Titans, Jacksonville Jaguars, Denver Broncos, Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens, Buffalo Bills and Houston Texans.

It should be noted that several teams could very easily move from Bad to Good by going back to their “old” uniforms. Teams like Pittsburgh, San Francisco, Detroit and Miami are prime examples. If Pittsburgh were to lose the Futura Condensed font with their numbers, their uniforms are Good.

One last caveat. If San Diego should choose to use the powder-blue jersey on a consistent basis, they too would be in the Good category. Unfortunately, I think they still use the navy blue occasionally. Too Bad.

Once again, I apologize to the Clint Eastwood fans for misleading you with the title of this column. But now that I think about it, the serape Clint wore in The Good, the Bad and the Ugly had a better look to it than the uniforms worn by 23 of the NFL teams. Until next time…from the booth.


Madden NFL 10 AFL Legacy Pack

The AFL Legacy Pack game add-on for Madden NFL 10 is now available to download for the PS3 and Xbox 360. The pack costs 560 Microsoft Points and $6.99 on the PlayStation Store, and includes additional achievements and trophies.

Madden NFL 10 AFL Legacy Pack Screenshot 1

The AFL Legacy Pack enables players to experience a new 1960’s-style where “referees don the orange striped AFL uniforms, official AFL markings and logos decorate the field, and more.” It also features a “retro football card-like user interface and classic film grain broadcast camera.”

More information and screenshots of the Madden NFL 10 AFL Legacy Pack follow below:

“The eight original AFL teams are represented by name and wear their historic uniforms, including the Buffalo Bills, Denver Broncos, Kansas City Chiefs (as the Dallas Texans), New England Patriots (as the Boston Patriots), New York Jets (as the Titans of New York), Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers and Tennessee Titans (as the Houston Oilers).

The 15 AFL Legacy Game matchups during the 2009 NFL regular season include the Legacy Pack presentation in the offline Franchise mode, as well as during the Play Now, and Superstar modes. Historic AFL uniforms can be selected in any offline or online game mode.”

Madden NFL 10 AFL Legacy Pack Screenshot 2

Madden NFL 10 AFL Legacy Pack Screenshot 3

Madden NFL 10 AFL Legacy Pack Screenshot 4

Madden NFL 10 AFL Legacy Pack Screenshot 5