By Phil Hecken, with Rick Pearson and Tim Brulia (with photo assistance from Larry Bodnovich)
The Big Game is today, or the Super Bowl, as most of us call it. Which means, it’s time to take a look back at the uniforms of the two combatants in today’s contest: the Indianapolis (nee Baltimore) Colts and the New Orleans Saints. Now wait, you’re about to say, “Didn’t Paul already do that on ESPN.com this past Thursday?” Well, yes he did, and a splendid job he did. But, having enlisted the aid of uniform historian Tim Brulia, the original Uni Watcher himself, Rick Pearson, and with several photos provided by Larry Bodnovich we’re going to take a much more in-depth look at just how closely the uniforms the two teams playing today resemble those of their predecessors, and how what they’re wearing today came to be.
Tim, as usual, has provided us with the parameters, studiously denoting all the minor (and major) changes of the teams throughout the years, while Ricko will handle the finer points of the uniform progressions. Since the New Orleans Saints are the new kids on the block, playing in their first Super Bowl (and the “younger” team in terms of service time), as well as the “designated road team” and decided underdog, we’ll take a look at them first, followed by the Colts. Let’s go!
The New Orleans Saints entered the NFL in the 1967 expansion, playing in Tulane Stadium until their current home, the Superdome, was constructed for the 1975 season. Frequently the laughing stock of the league, the Saints often sported horrible teams and frequently had fans showing up wearing bags over their heads. Frequently referred to as “The ‘Aints”, they were born wearing black and gold, and a design which has remained remarkably unchanged since it’s inception. But changes have been made over the years, often what we refer to as “tweaks” rather than wholesale revamps. Let’s see where they began, and how they got to today. Ricko and Timmy present this wonderful timeline:
1967: Brass gold helmet with black fleur-de-lis logo outlined in white, black/white/black stripes; jersey: Black with gold numbers with white outline on front, back and shoulders. Sleeve stripes Browns-like, white/gold/white/gold/white; white with gold numbers with black outline on front, back and shoulders. Sleeve stripes on road: black/gold/black/gold/black, and on home: white/gold/white/gold/white. Pants: gold with black/white/black stripes. Socks: black with stripes as on black jersey. Wore numbers of two different thicknesses. The SI “debut” cover (with the training camp helmets) shows the thicker ones. Note that these uniforms are *NOT* copper, as some have believed — it’s due to a poor scan of the SI Cover — that image is from Ricko’s original SI Issue, and shows the color much more properly than other photos on the Internet. Saints wore both thick and thin at same time. Bonus pic: check out Sir Saint in the endzone!
1968: Preseason games featured no sleeve stipes at all. Early in season, switched helmet stripe to white/black/white and also stripes on the pants to white/black/white. However, many players kept the old black/white/black striped pants. Both styles worn simultaneously. (*Note, this photo is from 1967 — apparently at least one player had the “reversed stripe” pattern [white/black/white] prior to the changeover in 1968)
1969: Preseason wore black helmets with a gold fleur-de-lis outlined in white and stripes were white/gold/white, but reverted back to 1967 helmet style when regular season began (in training camp, helmets had been solid black). Early in season, they wore a black jersey with white front/back/shoulder numbers that featured Packer style sleeve stripes of gold/white/gold/white/gold separated by a sliver of black. They later reverted back to 67-68 style black jersey later in season with thicker numerals. The white jersey also featured thicker numerals. The pants were gold with the 67 stripes for all players. Socks were black, but sanitaries had separated stripes of gold/black/gold. 50/NFL patch worn on left sleeve between TV number and stripes.
1971: The Saints started wearing white shoes.
1974: Wore white jersey for every game.
1975: Added black V neck to white jersey, TV’s moved to sleeves, sleeve stripes narrower, gold outlined added to numbers. Black jersey added a gold V neck and gold outline to the numbers. Gold pants ditched for white pants with black/gold/black stripes. Socks black with stripes like the stripes on black jersey.
1976: Changed helmet facemasks from gray to black. Added black pants to be worn with the white jersey. Gold/white/gold stripes on black pants.
1983: Gold numeral outlines on jersey now separated by jersey color. high socks now solid black.
1986: TV’s move back up to shoulders. On white jersey, state map of Louisiana in black with fleur-de-lis inside northen half of LA on sleeves. On black jersey, state map of Louisiana in gold with fleur-de-lis inside northern half of LA on sleeves. Pants gold with thick black stripe on sides with outline of Louisiana in gold with fleur-de-lis inside northern half of LA in gold on hips. Black socks add a thick gold stripe.
1990: NOB’s got really squeezed tight.
1991: Wore a 25th season patch
1994: Like all other NFL teams, wore the 75/NFL patch on the left collarbone area. Wore 1967 style throwbacks for the NFL’s 75th anniversary.
1996: Wore a 30th season patch. Black jersey saw LA state sleeve patch replaced by gold fleur-de-lis with micro thin black/white outline. Numbers and NOB’s gold with white outline. White jersey also saw LA sleeve patch replaced by gold fleur-de-lis with micro thin black/white/black outline. Numbers and NOB’s gold with black outline. Pants saw LA state outline replaced by gold fleur-de-lis on hips. Socks now solid black.
1999: White jersey saw black numbers return with gold outline. NOB’s back to a normal size with black outlined in gold. Fleur-de-lis on sleeves black with gold/black outline. Black jerseys just changed NOB’s to more normal size and gold fleur-de-lis on sleeve to a slightly thicker black/white outline. Black pants worn with white jersey with thick gold stripes and black fleur-de-lis with white/black outline on hips. Pretty much the prototype jerseys worn to this day.
2000: Helmet logo noticeably smaller, with white/gold/black outline. Same outline adopted for white jersey sleeve logo. Gold pants worn with both black and white jerseys.
2001: Black pants return and are worn for all games. No stripes, just a gold (with black/white outline) fleur-de-lis on each hip.
2003, 2004 and 2005: Gold pants worn all season.
2004: Black cleats return.
2007: LA patch removed. Pretty much the same uni since.
The Colts franchise was officially created in 1953, but can trace its roots to pre-NFL days. The franchise began as the Dayton Triangles, a founding member of the NFL that was originally created in 1913. The Triangles wore blue and white jerseys. They are seen here, in 1926, playing the Frankfort Yellowjackets.
From there, the Dayton Triangles relocated to Brooklyn and were renamed the “Dodgers” in 1930, (here, the Dodgers are playing the Giants in 1938) and changed the name to “Brooklyn Tigers” in 1944. In the same year, the Boston Yanks are founded. A wartime “casualty,” the Tigers merged with the Yanks in 1945 and were simply known as “The Yanks” (the Yanks player is shown at left). The franchise was cancelled in 1945 by league and the team’s “temporary” merger with the Boston Yanks was made permanent.
Meanwhile, a new league (the AAFC) formed and created the “New York Yankees,” which was founded by the Tigers’ former owner. Another team in the newly formed AAFC, the “Miami Seahawks,” were purchased and relocated to Baltimore and renamed the “Colts” (whose original colors were green and silver). This franchise was dissolved by the league on January 18, 1951. The Colts were gone, but not for long.
Back in the NFL, the Boston Yanks would relocate to New York in 1949, becoming “New York Yanks” (interestingly, they absorbed much of the AAFC Yankees’ roster the next year). Those New York Yanks, much like the Yankees, Dodgers and Tigers were unable to compete with the New York Football Giants, and moved to Dallas in 1952 where they were renamed the “Dallas Texans.” The Texans’ colors were blue and white. Unfortunately, the Texans found themselves without a stadium in which to play, about halfway through the 1952 season, and were dissolved shortly thereafter. Here’s a great shot of the Texans versus the 49ers from 1952.
What had been the “Dallas Texans” franchise (not to be confused with the later, original AFL Texans) was moved to Baltimore on January 23, 1953. The Texans couldn’t really keep that nickname upon moving to Baltimore, so they adopted the “Colts” nickname, and kept the Texans team colors of blue and white. Thus began the current Colts’ 30 year run in Baltimore, which, as we all know, ended badly. The Colts would relocate to their current home in Indianapolis in 1984, and continue playing there to this day. Now, let’s take a look at the Colts (1953-present) uniform timeline.
1953: The Colts started out with a white helmet with criss-cross blue stripes. After one game, they took the criss stripe off. They also wore a plain blue helmet for a day game and a couple of night games. The jerseys were rather generic; white had blue front/back numerals with blue NW sleeve stripes, while the blue jersey had white front/back numerals with white NW stripes. The Colts also wore for night games a plain RED jersey! Pants were white with a thin white stripe down the sides. Socks were solid blue.
1954: They started with the white helmet, but early in the season, they switched to a blue helmet with a white stripe and a small white horseshoes flanking the stripe on the back of the helmet. The 53 white jersey stayed the same, but the blue jersey had a stripe tweak to 3 even sized white stripes. The socks went from plain blue to blue with three white stripes as on the blue jersey. The plain red jersey was worn for night games.
1956: Helmet changed from blue to white with a blue stripe with the horseshoes turning blue and staying on the back of the helmet. Like 7 other teams this year, the Colts added TV numbers to the sleeves of both jerseys.
1957: Another overhaul, but this turned into the classic Colts uniform. The horseshoes were now proudly displayed on the sides above the earhole and made much larger. The 3 sleeve stripes (who’s that guy? glad you asked) were replaced by two shoulder loops on both jerseys. A second blue stripe was added to each side of the pants. And blue socks with two blue stripes were worn with both jerseys.
1958: Interesting program produced by the 49ers depicting the Colts wearing a combination (blue/purple helmet with gold shoulder loops) that never existed.
1959: Medium sized players’ numbers were added to the back of the Colts helmets.
1964: No changes to uniforms, but Colts would make it to the championship game versus the Cleveland Browns (note the handwritten helmet number), ultimately losing to the Browns in what would be the Browns last NFL championship.
1969: 50/NFL patch worn on shoulder above shoulder loops.
1981: Chagned to solid blue socks.
1982: Added silver in between the blue shoulder stripes on the white jersey and also added silver outline to blue numerals to that jersey. Wore white pants with blue/silver/blue stripes with white jersey. Wore silver/gray pants with single blue stripe with a blue horseshoe with player’s number on both hips. Sock stripes returned with two silver/gray stripes.
1993: Solid blue socks return and worn with both jerseys.
1994: 75/NFL patch worn on collarbone area of jersey. Didn’t really wear a throwback for the occasion.
1996: Switched back to black cleats.
1997: Wore a horseshoe on the left collarbone area of both jerseys; blue on the white jersey, white on the blue jersey.
1998: Horseshoe removed from jerseys. Back to white cleats.
OK, everyone. Hope you enjoyed this “little” lookback on how the Colts and the Saints got to where they are today, uniform wise. Now, when you attend your Super Bowl parties, you can show off your intimate knowledge of the teams — and don’t be surprised if everyone looks at you a little differently when you do.
Thanks again to Timmy, Ricko & Larry for their assistance with this monumental undertaking.
In probably the worst kept secret in alternate jersey releases in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays have officially offered for sale their new alternate powder blue jersey. Of course, there has been no actual official announcement yet, but it will be coming. After earlier unveiling their powder blue BP cap, (they will have both a navy and a powder blue BP cap this year), speculation quickly followed that they’d be introducing a powder blue alternate.
Is is good or stupid? Well, it’s not a bad color, but it’s unnecessary. It is my firm belief that a powder blue alternate will only look good if it’s paired powder blue pants. Now, before you dismiss the idea out of hand, here’s how that would look on the field of play. Not so bad, right?
See, I’m not ONLY a white at home/gray on road kinda guy — I just hate the softball look. There were some powder blue teams whose looks I rather enjoyed. I grew up when powder blues were not necessarily the “norm,” but they weren’t foreign either. Of course, back then, stirrups were worn and unis were properly fitted — now…they’d probably wear the powder blues like the Jays and I’d hate it. So maybe it’s best if they just keep the alt and wear it
Anyway, last night the Hornets debuted their purple, gold AND green Mardi Gras uniforms. You remember them? Paul had a small bit on Uni Watch (so we could comment) and a much larger piece on ESPN, detailing all that went into these, um…beauties.
We won’t rehash all that here (although, feel free to comment), as Paul has done an outstanding job covering all the ins and outs of the design and thought process that went into the unis. Personally, while I love the concept and the execution, the “two tone” nature of the uniform offends my OCD. I “get” why they’re green, gold and purple. I understand the colors and accoutrements and the beads and masks and costumes and general licentiousness and drunken debauchery that goes into all these uniforms stand for. I really do.
I just don’t like
two three-toned uniforms. I can overlook this, because of the spirit of the holiday, however. But just how awesome would the uni still have been if they just went with one color or the other?
If you’d like to see more pics of this game, I put 40+ pics in a Flickr album. Enjoy.
What is it they say about an irresistable force and an immovable object? Here’s Rick:
Super Bowl Sunday. A perfect time to be reminded that, when it comes to its unfortunate conclusion, a wardrobe malfunction can make you feel like”¦well, like a real boob.
Here’s your full-color, Super Bowl sponsored, Sunday Benchies.
Guess The Game From The Scoreboard: Today we have a ‘guest’ scoreboard being brought to us by reader Chris Rocco. While the location may be familiar, the clues are all right there in the picture itself. Ready? Guess The Game From The Scoreboard. Date, location and final score, please, and be sure to link to your answer. And, as always, if you enjoy the game, please send me some new scoreboards! Drop me a line. Thanks!
As if you needed another reason to watch the Super Bowl, now you do:
As you all know (or should), the Who will be performing the halftime show. In the comments below, the first person to correctly name each song in the correct order the Who play today will win a prize. So, make sure you post your guesses — if someone has already made a guess — be sure to post a different one, ok? Remember, it’s the first person who identifies EACH song played and in the EXACT order.
I have a whole bunch of uni-related materials lying about the place, and I’m itching to give something away (the prize is as yet undetermined). So, take a guess, and maybe you’ll walk away with something cool. Or not. But you gotta be in it to win it.
Back again with more Uniform Tweaks, Concepts and Revisions today. Taking a look at all sports from here on out, so, if you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.
First up is Tom Dempsey(!) who was inspired by the Pro Bowl piece last Sunday, with some Pro Bowl unis:
I was inspired by your column about the Pro Bowl unis and decided to give them a shot. Both have the conferences primary colors with the contrasting color as the secondary, so the game would be color on color. I also added some gold piping to represent the special meaning of being chosen to play in the pro bowl. On the pants, the colors are reversed for each team.
Hope you enjoy,
Next up is James Comfort, who has some revisions for the Packers, Bills and Panthers:
For my first batch of uni tweaks i started with my favorite team, the Packers. Their uniform is, in my opinion, the best in the league. But I’ve always wondered what it would like like with metallic gold. Home. Road.
Then the Panthers, whose uniforms are very nice, but just nice. And they’ve remained unchanged for a long time. Not a big fan of the silver, so I took it out. The NFL needs a team with a powder blue helmet. Home. Road. Alternate.
Much more where that came from, including a makeover for the Browns and Bengals, as well as a new and different approach to the Cowboys. Stay tuned!
Moving along, we have some MLB tweaks from Dennis (from Philly, and who would prefer I don’t use his last name), who has taken on your National League Champion Philadelphia Phillies:
Hello — long time reader, first time contributor. I have a few issues with the uniforms of my beloved Philadelphia Phillies, so I decided to go ahead and give my best shot at a slight alteration. Specifically, my two biggest gripes are the cartoonish NOB/number font and the number on the sleeve. I started out by creating a uniform set using the current team colors, changing the font back to the Helvetica style font used in those Vet-era uniforms (with vertical arching for the name) and moving the sleeve number to the front of the jersey. To replace the sleeve number, I added a Liberty Bell patch to the left sleeve. I’m a fan of the Phils’ current alternate unis, especially their use of blue, so I incorporated the color more than it’s used now. The alternate jersey bears a passing resemblance to the current alt and uses the same cap, but is white instead of cream and has some piping. I also made a fauxback alternate with the ‘P’ on the chest, in the current colors and outlined by blue (and sans pinstripes). One of the options is a white cap with a red bill and red piping (worn in the early 20th century), giving this uniform facets of those worn throughout the Phillies’ history.
I also think red (and to a lesser extent, blue) is overused in MLB. The old maroon uniforms worn in the 70s and 80s give the team a good opportunity to break away from this mold and claim a unique color combo, so I tried to envision what a modern take would look like. I also think the maroon went well with the power blue uniforms worn during that period, so I used this as an accent color in my mockups. The NOB and numbers are outlined in powder blue, and the color is used on the sleeve and sock stripes. The alternate features even more powder blue and the white hat with maroon accents. Lastly, I made a vest design based on the 70s/80s Phillies jersey with maroon sleeves and a dash of powder blue. This is the most ‘out there’ of my designs, but I think it works for an occasional game or two.
-Dennis from Philly
PS- I apologize if the color or design elements are off when you open the file – I made these in MS Paint and it is my first time doing something like this. If you do decide to use this, please only use my first name. Thanks, and I hope you like it!
That will conclude this round. Already, I have more for next weekend, so keep them coming. You know where to send them. Thanks!
That’s (finally) going to end this Super Sized Super Bowl piece. After going a stellar 7-3 (which would have been 8-2 had I picked the ‘boys over the Iggles) by “picking the winner based on the better uniform,” I will have to pick the Colts to win today. As of late last evening, the spread was 5 points. So, giving the five, we’ll take the Colts to win. Be nice to close out the season with another “uni win.”
Don’t forget to post your “What will the Who play?” guess down below. Just pick the songs, in the ORDER THEY PLAY them, and you’re good to go. OK? OK!
Oh, yeah. There’s still the matter of a game. So — enjoy the big one today. Cheers!