Skip to content

Tim & Bill’s NFL Uniform Project – Part I – “Bill’s Story”

Tim & Bill Splash

By Phil Hecken

No, the team you see listed above in today’s splash photo isn’t some kind of crazy “cross sport concept uniform” by one of the many tweakers who contribute to Uni Watch. What you’re looking at is an outstanding graphical representation of the 1936 Pittsburgh Pirates, who finished that season with a record of 6-6-0, good enough for Second Place in the NFL’s Eastern Division.

“Wait,” you might say, “wasn’t Pittsburgh’s football team called the Steelers?” Not in 1936, they weren’t. The Steelers were founded as the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 8, 1933, by Art Rooney. The ownership of the Steelers has remained within the Rooney family since its founding. It was actually somewhat common practice at the time for NFL teams to take on the names of their MLB counterparts. The NFL team from Pittsburgh kept the name “Pirates” for seven years, from their founding through the 1939 season.

Today, I am pleased and honored to bring you a look at the beginning of an historical research project which may only be exceeded by the incredible work of Marc Okkonen, whose seminal work “Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century” is basically the “bible” to which uniform historians turn for their reference. Many of you are familiar with Uni Watch Uniform Historian Tim Brulia, whose White at Home in the NFL and Pro Football Uniform History Project are staples of the Uni Watch “Research Projects” found in the tab bar at the top of this page.

Tim is now embarking on a much grander project in both historical importance and scope, and for this project he has enlisted the able assistance of Bill Schaefer, who is the graphical genius behind Tim’s work. Basically, what the two of these men have done is to chart the entire NFL uniform history since 1933, and put those uniforms into graphical form, a la Okkonen, or the now defunct FUPP (Football Uniforms Past & Present) project.

Today, I’m going to officially introduce the Uni Watch faithful to the second half of the “Tim & Bill” tandem, Mr. Bill Schaefer. He and Tim have made tremendous strides in this long, on-going, and immensely important project, and they’re almost ready to reveal it to the world. I’m privileged to be able to bring you a taste of what lies in store. We’ll begin today with “Bill’s Story”:


My Story
By Bill Schaefer

When I was 5 years old, my Dad became a season ticket holder for the Pittsburgh Steelers. He still is to this day at age 66. From 1977 to 1990, I attended a minimum of 5 home games per year with only college attendance in Florida and moving to South Carolina eventually breaking the string. Getting to attend the Super Bowl XLIII in Tampa with him was a first for me. It was my Dad’s fourth (XII, XIII, XXX, and XLIII).

When I moved to Florida in 2002, I got my first job that required work on a computer. This was actually my first run-in with the Internet. During some down time, I discovered “Football Uniforms: Past and Present” and began using its images as screensavers. I noticed that some of the Steelers’ images were missing anniversary logos that I knew had been worn. I was there! I found the images (and photographic proof) and sent them to Craig Wheeler. He made the appropriate corrections in short order. I was so proud of my tiny contributions!

However, soon after the completion of the 2003 season, the site ceased updating. I tried my darnedest trying to revise the 2003 images each year to suit the changes that ensued over the next half-decade to build upon my ”˜screensaver cache.’ The problem that I continued to have was that Craig’s templates were asymmetrical. This made alterations extremely difficult to make, as well as getting them to simply look good, but I kept at it.

Over Spring Break in 2009, while conducting online searches for then upcoming AFL 50th Anniversary Logos, I came across Tim Brulia’s column posted on “Uni Watch” outlining the research he had done for the 20+ years previous to the decades covered on Craig Wheeler’s site. In it, Tim mentioned that if anyone would like to take up the task, for them to contact him. As a high school math teacher with the upcoming summer off, I figured I’d try my hand at it during my ”˜spare vacation time.’ If I sucked at it, no one had to know.

Working with a much more user-friendly, 2-dimensional template, I began work on constructing images from Tim’s vivid descriptions. Using the color samples I found on “The Society for Sports Uniform Research,” [since renamed “ColorWerx” — PH] I was able to achieve better matches to Tim’s words as closely as possible while utilizing the correct shades described. Over the course of the summer, I constructed several leather helmet templates and from there first drafts of almost every team and year listed from 1933-1958. I was pretty pleased with my product. As I neared completion, I emailed Tim to introduce myself and send him a small sample of what I had done.

The next several months became a whirlwind of emails sending comments, suggestions, revisions, and even more revisions back and forth between Tim and myself. When this stage was completed we decided to ”˜up the ante’ and decided to tackle the renovations to the images in FUPPadditions, alterations, exclusions, etc. Now, after more than 24 months of work, nearly everything we set out to accomplish is ready to roll — and then some.

As with Craig Wheeler’s original site, Tim and I will welcome any contributions as far as corrections to errors we have made given that precise and (to borrow from NFL lingo) ”˜indisputable’ photographic proof can be provided. Since we are dealing with images that are, in some cases over 70 years old, there are still a few inclusions that we know need to be fixed. We have, as yet, been unable to execute these few corrected renditions due to a lack of availability of the necessary proof. Otherwise, we are now at a point where every professional team from 1933 to 1958, including the AAFC teams of the late 1940’s and all ”˜defunct’ NFL teams of the era, is represented as accurately as possible.

We are truly fortunate for the research Tim Brulia has put into this project. Without it, there would be no project. He is a stickler for detail, but that is exactly what is needed for organizing a task like this. Throughout the process our motto has been “Just get it right.” I feel fortunate that my recently discovered graphic skills are worthy enough to become an integral part of something that has never been orchestrated before. It is my hope that this site will provide the opportunity for many of the NFL’s fans who may never get the chance to visit Canton, Ohio, to not only see, in color, where the game came from in its humblest of beginnings but to also develop a true appreciation for professional football’s founding fathers, earliest warriors, and the characters of the game upon whose backs the NFL was built.


Thank you Bill. Just outstanding, outstanding work so far. But Tim and Bill’s story isn’t complete — its ending has yet to be penned. Tim & Bill still don’t have a home on the Interwebs yet. We’re hoping that will change in the near future. But for now, that’s Part I of Bill and Tim’s NFL Uniform Project. I’ll be back next weekend with Tim’s story.


Benchies Header


by Rick Pearson


An email request flooded in. Mike re-assumed the position, saying, “Run it Sunday…for the divorced soccer moms.”

5-8-11 s-pinup narrow

And, for all the mothers out there, here’s the full size, suitable for downloading and framing.


all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks

We have another nice of tweaks today.

If you have a tweak, change or concept for any sport, send them my way.

Remember, if possible, try to keep your descriptions to ~50 words (give or take) per tweak. You guys have been great a keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!

And so, lets begin:


We start with Chet Gole who brings us a LA Clippers redux:


This design is how the Clippers should be re-vamped. It is a combination between their San Diego colors and their present day LA colors. It seems like every team in the NBA is going to red white and blue so here is a tweak that sets the Clippers apart from just about everyone.


Chet Gole


Our second player today is Eric Zrmhal who delights us with some White Sox tweaks:

I’m a long time reader and a long time White Sox fan (so it was heartbreaking to see Liriano throw a no-no tonight) and saw all the different uni tweaks for MLB teams and thought I would throw mine out there. The Sox definitely have gone through some major uni issues over the past century, but that doesn’t stop me from cheering them on. So, attached are my minor tweaks on their current uni’s, with Ozzie’s number on each, of course. They are a bit rough (I did them in Microsoft paint) and the logo on the stirrups is a bit preschoolish (I had to make it myself), but you get the idea. I tried to go conservative since Reinsdorf is a conservative guy who doesn’t want to change the uni/logo since they’ve gone through so much crap in the past 35 years. I removed the NOB, changed the font of the numbers, went back to a previous logo, added the alternate logo to the stirrups and tweaked the hats. Let me know what you think.


Eric Zmrhal


Back again with more tweaks is Terry Duroncelet, who has a bunch of MLB tweaks (and one NBA):

I’m back with more ideas for the Uni Watch faithful.

Reds: I made an alternate home white concept uniform aimed at those with poor vision… or just can’t figure out who the home team is…

Celtics: A while back, someone in the UW comments proposed the idea of making the Celtics’ St. Patty’s Day greens their permanent road alts, so I went for it. I also gave their primary home and roads the retro treatment *snickers X)*.

Phillies: As much as I HATE the Phuckin’ Phillies, their uniforms are notch. That being said, I had to fix a couple of things, and I’m extremely happy with the result, particularly the road uniform because there’s something very… organic about the road tweak. I hate white graphics on grey uniforms other than the unis worn by Georgetown and the Yankees, so I fixed that.

Angels: I erased the white twill from the jersey scripts on both jerseys. I don’t see the reason for using white twill as the outermost outline when you can barely see it on a white jersey (if at all), and I already stated my feelings about white-on-grey. I also gave them new (halo) socks, to emphasize their ‘Halo’ moniker and to signify their 2002 World Series title.

Mets: Something old, something new, something that only involves the colors white, orange, and blue… and grey.

Astros: I honestly wasn’t even thinking about the Astros until this image resurfaced. Paul’s Colt .45 ‘rups need to be resurrected for mainstream use, like… Yesterday.

I’ll be back with more soon.

Much appreciated,

–Simply Moono


Our final concepter today is Dave Elbrecht, who goes a bit lengthy on his description, but since he has about 10 tweaks, I guess it works out:


I’ve been reading Uni Watch for about two years and this is my first attempt at tweaks.

I love my alma mater, because of this I’m saddened that Valparaiso has managed to embrace almost every awful uni concept that has come out in the last decade (most notably: BFBS, awful bumper stickers, and now grey-for-grey’s-sake). The Crusaders are the collegiate BFBS equivalent of the New York Mets. Mercifully, the Valpo basketball team abandoned the all-black road uni 6 years ago. However, losing the black jersey didn’t mean losing the black accents. It is to the point now that every Valpo team (except football) has completely abandoned brown in favor of black accents. My goal in this rebrand is to eliminate the BFBS and bring brown back to Valpo unis.

I started with basketball. I really like the design of the new uni that debuted in the middle of the 10-11 season (with the notable exception of the GFGS uni that showed up against Purdue). The only adjustment I made to the white and gold unis was making the black accents brown. The most obious change I made was the addition of a brown road uni (something Valpo baseketball hasn’t used in quite a while). Keeping white at home and brown on the road would make the gold an alt used for weekend and other “important” games (such as the BracketBuster against Missouri State with Dick Vitale on the call).

The baseball team underwent the most significant redo in large part because they are currently Valpo’s worst offenders when it comes to BFBS. They currently wear white at home (with awful black bumper stickers) and a black softball top on the road. They sport and all black hat and a white crown/black bill cap (both with “VALPO” as the logo). I really like the script lettering on the baseball unis, so I kept them. The rest of the unis are inspired by the Cleveland Indians and Ole Miss Rebels. The white uni is the primary home, and the grey one is the primary road (something we don’t see nearly enough of in collge baseball**). Given the university’s brown and gold color palette, I figured it would be a perfect candidate for a cream home alt. My least favorite uni is the brown softball top with cream pants, but I figured they would need a road alt for double-headers. I felt having “VALPO” on the hat was too busy, so I replaced it with a gold script “V” while also re-coloring the hat brown.

As for the softball and volleyball unis, I replaced the black with brown (smilar to what I did with the basketball unis).

Instead of sending you an unnecessarily large e-mail, I posted all the pics on a flickr account.

Current unis are in one album
and my concepts in another.

Love the site,

Thanks to today’s tweakers. Back with more next weekend.



From The E-mail Bag

After yesterday’s fantastic main article on Brooklyn caps, reader Peter Trunk sent me the following note:

Hello Phil:

I’ve been following your Uni Watch site faithfully, enjoying all your posts, for quite a while now.

The latest stories regarding the Brooklyn Dodgers’ uniforms and caps has both my full attention and interest. I am “penncentralpete” who worked along with Will at CooperstownCapCo ( to try and replicate the Brooklyn “B.”

The results were great on the letter, but not so much on the color of the created product.

I am an administrator at Brooklyn Dodger Memories, where 100 or so fans of the old Dodgers discuss this and more about the old Bums.

Included in my email is a photo of the caps that were eventually produced for me. As you can plainly see, the letter is fine, but the colors are “off.” Sadly, the company went out of business before anymore work could be done.

I have not reached out to any of the large, present-day companies, as I feel they wouldn’t give a rat’s ass about authenticity of a half-century old Dodger cap. Hell, the (LA) Dodgers themselves have worn bogus Brooklyn caps during their “throwback days.”

Sincere Regards,

Pete Trunk

Thanks Pete, for the kind words and for all the information!


Ok, folks. Have a great Sunday and a wonderful Mother’s Day.


MLBers wearing pink on Mother’s Day”¦ you know who won’t be wearing pink on Sunday? My mother! And my sister, for that matter (she’s a mother as well). Both of them hate pink clothes, and do their best to avoid that color whenever possible. — Rob S.

. . . .

Comments (31)

    There was also a tean in the NHL briefly in the 1920’s , called the Pittsburgh Pirates – who played in the Duquense Garden, a rink that an ice surface was nearly 50 feet longer than standard regulation of today’s ice surface (it would have been a neat idea for the NHL to have tried to adopt a similiar length ice surface – for this past year’s winter classic in Pittsburgh)

    Good catch on the hockey Pirates, they were active for several years before moving to Philadelphia and becoming the Quakers. There were a number of cities in the NHL in the early years, ironically, one of the font styles of the Pirates would be copied by the 1997 MLB team.

    Pittsburgh has a rich hockey tradition, as the home of the first recognized professional hockey league in the nation, the WPHL in 1901-02. Also, the historically significant location of where the first USA hockey team was formed.

    The Hornets would mark the return of pro hockey to the city in the mid 30s, and that club ended up being a Red Wings affiliate in the 60s, with uniforms similar to Detroit. There was support for the Hornets to be the NHL team name, the last Hornets team won the Calder Cup in their last year of existence.

    Oops, should have said Pittsburgh was the site of the first USA Olympic hockey team was formed.

    You’re right on the Pittsburgh NHL team being called the “Hornets.” The Hornets had a great tradition in Pittsburgh. And I know very well about those ’67 A.H.L. Hornets that won the Calder Cup from my Rochester Americans. Pittsburgh’s win broke Rochester’s streak of back-to-back Calder Cups. But in those last pre-expansion days the Hornets had six former Amerks on their roster. In ’68 the Amerks went out and picked up three ’67 Hornet veterans at mid-season, regrouped and took the Cup again. In the 75-year history of the A.H.L. the Amerks are the ONLY team to play in the Calder Cup finals four straight years.

    Yeah, I know. In a more perfect world, the NFL would pay you and host it… but we know that won’t happen.

    But the NFL will, once the archive is online, use it as the basis of throwback-uni planning, without attribution or remuneration. Assuming the NFL ever plays football games again.

    Great work by Bill thus far. I especially like the fact that he used the clear faceguard on the ’54 Browns helmet. One small point. All of the illustrations use Number 11. I’m sure that makes it easier for Bill to illustrate. But unfortunately the numeral “1” doesn’t show the many unique fonts that have been used in football throughout the years.

    Possibly you could change the numbers to a star player from each season or possibly run an illustration of the numbers 0-9 in a strip format. It’s something you could think about.

    I was thinking the same thing about the numbers.

    Considering how many images he’d have to change, I think the 0-9 strip is probably the better option, unless we want to wait another year. One 0-9 image could be reused for quite a few seasons for most teams.

    That and that pre-NOB the back number usually was larger than the front.
    Early on (in some cases) was front 8″, back 10″
    Throughout most of the 50’s was front 10″ front, back 12″.
    In some instances like the John Hadl era Chargers (when they get to the AFL) both front and back numbers were huge…

    Oh, man, sounds like I’m being nitpicker of the highest order and trying to take something away from a spectacular effort by Tim and Bill.

    Not at all. Just that I’m so used to see the larger back numbers from that era that it looks odd to see them so small.

    Although, I suppose it is an aspect of uni-history that the advent of NOB in football resulted in small back numbers.

    Subtle difference, to be sure, but the front and back did look different, so I just made back “11” 120% of front…

    Totally agree with Terry Proctor, but…
    [c]”Possibly you could change the numbers to a star player from each season”[/c]
    Couldn’t this create problems with the NFLPA?

    Great job guys!
    Looking forward to seeing the results of your work online as soon as possible

    Obviously this is for non-profit use so maybe the NFLPA can’t argue about it

    I agree about trying to get as many of the ten digits into the photos as possible; maybe you could give the year and the team’s record in the relevant font just to give it more exposure. It would add a lot of work to the project, but maybe you could add the alphabet for teams with NOBs too.

    BTW, the NFL hasn’t had too many teams using different fonts at home and on the road, have they?

    Tim & Bill need to get a site online.



    this project, while perhaps not of the scale and ground-breaking nature of okkonen’s, will certainly rival it in scope

    it’s been two years in the making and it’s just about ready to kick off (no pun…well, ok, pun intended)

    they just need a home on the net now

    @Terry Duroncelet:
    The white twill outline still appears on the cap and helmet. Did you intend to leave them intact on headgear items?

    Yes, for two reasons:

    1) The “A” is red, and taking the outline away would also take away its contrast.

    2) I’m not tech-savvy enough to fix cap insignias =(

    But thank you for the feedback! =)

    A’s beat writer explains why only one member of A’s is wearing pink cleats today:

    “McCarthy only A’s player who wears Under Armour cleats, official cleat of MLB. Only those contracted w/Under Armour can wear pink cleats.”


    Sure did miss this. Official shoe of MLB. Now, why MLB doesn’t limit the shoe brands on field like the NFL does, I don’t know.

    Tim and Bill, great stuff! Once you’re done with the NFL you can add the CFL, USFL and WFL, right? ;)

    Ricko, took me three times before I noticed the pink wristbands on Mike. Nice touch. You may want to have him holding that bat in a different place, though…

    Hey, if Larry Csonka can sneak in a bird-flip on an SI cover, Mike can use anything, however inadvertent, that might improve his image among divorced soccer moms.

    Rare sight in the AL. A’s SP Tyson Ross dove to tag out a runner at third base and got his uni dirty. Now he heads back onto the mound with dirt on his pants and jersey.

    Also noticed Daric Barton has the old logo on his A’s batting helmet while everyone else on the team has a new one.
    This is a pic from last week. Trying to find one from today’s game

    He had the updated logo on it earlier in the year, however.

    I noticed that I sound a little bit arrogant in my submission. I’ll clarify:

    – I only said what I said about the Reds because the script on the concept is HUGE. I was also making fun of myself a little bit, because I have HORRIBLE vision.

    – The reason I was snickering in my Celtics tweak was because their uniforms have remained somewhat unchanged since their inception.

    Happy Mother’s Day to all! =D

    The players weren’t the only ones using pink equipment at the ballpark today, check this out – link

    Good stuff from Tim & Bill today, can’t wait for part two. Just one observation though: is it possible to indicate which unis are home and away? Most of us uniwatchers would probably know but for the casual fan or uni-researcher it would help out greatly. I really look forward to the website!

    Actually, Patrick, it wasn’t until the mid/late 50’s when the NFL went to TV that white jerseys became the (secondary) norm for all teams. Teams like the Giants and Cardinals, who primarily wore red, also carried an identical blue jersey to wear when they played another team in red from the 1930’s up into the 50’s. It was quite common for two teams wearing similar shades of blue to play in the same game when a secondary jersey color was not available for one of the two teams. Long story short, there weren’t really ‘home’ and ‘away’ jerseys much like how the Eagles wear white at home now almost as much as they wear green.

    I asked my mom if she felt “honored” that the MLBers were using pink bats today. She said “huh? Who?”

    Good point mom.

    ENOUGH with the additional colors!

    really like the design of the new uni that debuted in the middle of the 10-11 season (with the notable exception of the GFGS uni that showed up against Purdue). The only adjustment I made to the white and gold unis was making the black accents brown

Comments are closed.