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Beating A Dead Bronco (of a different color?)

bronco hed

By Phil Hecken

One of the more persistent “Uni Watch Mysteries” over the past three or so years has been the ongoing debate on the color of the helmet decal the Denver Broncos wore during several pre-season games during the 1962 season (as well as several regular season games). Was it brown? Was it blue? It’s truly one of our great “white brown/blue whales.”

Up until now, we’ve always debated whether the Bronco decal was either brown or blue — there is little argument it was anything but one of those two colors. Without that elusive color photo evidence, however, we can debate, postulate, speculate and pontificate as to what color we think it was, but we can never be sure. The man who first hypothesized that the decal was blue, of course, is my buddy and UW Historian Rick “Ricko” Pearson who has steadfastly held to the belief that the pony decal was indeed blue. Over the years, he has offered many logical, straightforward and persuasive arguments as to why the Broncos would have used a blue, and not a brown (as many believe) decal.

But what if the Bronco decal was actually both blue AND brown?


Before Ricko’s head further explodes, I want to bring him on board to discuss a brand new theory on the Bronco decal color. One which, heretofore, has never been postulated, and which, after you read this explanation, actually makes a lot of sense. Here’s Rick:


A Horse of Two Different Colors?
By Rick Pearson

Here’s a new theory on the Broncos’ Dark Horse helmet puzzle…

First off, I am NOT saying this suggestion IS what happened. But it WOULD explain everything.

It started when I found this mini-helmet on ebay. And, of course, there’s this commonly seen flat art rendering. The horse is neither blue nor brown on either of them, but a sort of purplish brown. And I thought, “Okay, what if they WERE recreated based on a rare color photo of the 1962 early season helmets that we haven’t unearthed yet?”

First, though, what do we know?

1. The Broncos were almost pathologically dedicated to exorcising the minor league, secondhand image of the gold and brown. Brought in to run the show, Jack Faulkner made huge deal out of “Everything new in ”˜62” (that was their advertising slogan), and he started with a new color scheme of orange, blue and white.

2. Uniform design style in 1962 was NOT about zoological or mechanical correctness. The Lions’ helmet lion wasn’t tan. The Oilers’ derrick wasn’t gray or black. The Colts’ horseshoe wasn’t iron-colored, either.

3. Sometime in mid-season ”˜62, the Broncos helmet decal horse, which didn’t show up all that well on black and white TV and in black and white photos, was changed to white and remained that way until the team changed to blue helmets in 1967.

4. There is a camp that contends that, contrary to general 1962 thinking (and specifically contrary to thinking in Denver at the time) that the horse decal was brown, despite the fact the rest of the uniform was designed with two royal stripes on the pants, and with royal numbers and striping on the road white jerseys. One rationale offered is that it was to “make it easier from the fans to go through the transition.” That seems downright silly. The team was only two years old, hadn’t been a success either on the field or at the gate, and the color scheme was hated and the brunt of countless jokes…in addition to those generated by the vertically striped socks (unis bought second hand from a defunct post-season game called the “Copper Bowl”). This group includes a couple former players interviewed at least thirty years after the fact (Frank Tripucka and Gene Mingo, I believe). They were, however, interviewed in a less-than-objective fashion. Questions were posed in a manner akin to, “So, why did they change the brown horse on the helmet to white?” And I suppose a program cover like this could lead someone with limited knowledge to conclude the Broncos wore orange and brown one year.

5. A press conference photo of the helmet’s unveiling lists the new colors as orange, blue and white, then mentions that the helmet is orange. There’s no mention of an exception being made for a brown helmet decal, or of the brown being carried over for some psychological reason.

6. In 1971 (considerably closer to the actual events than the 1990s) my then-partner, who had been sports editor at The Denver Post in 1962, told me the first version, “looked like a big ink blot.” That would seem likely to suggest they were, indeed blue. Brown might not exactly engender a comparison to an ink blot. Especially by a writer who may even have been at that “helmet unveiling” press conference. I don’t know if he was, I never asked.

That’s where we sit. So now let’s get back to the “purplish brown” horse on that mini-helmet, whose colors may possibly be based on a photograph.

Okay, in the context of 1962 technology, here’s the theory…

What if the whole fiasco is because of chintzy decals? Looking at the color on that mini-helmet it isn’t at all difficult to imagine that a decal material could have been too thin…or that it too-quickly yellowed…and either or both would combine with orange “show through” from the helmet itself to alter the color of the horse. Having built enough model airplanes, etc., in the ”˜50s and early ”˜60s, I know some of those decals were pretty lousy. Sunshine especially yellowed them.

So, what if EVERYONE’s right? That it all depends on when they saw the helmet? At that initial press conference it could have been nice and blue. But, once it got a little sun on it, it began to change color. A bit of yellow combined with blue, of course, will head toward green. Add orange showing through from the helmet and you get a kind of brown-purple. No matter which the specific malfunction, either still can get us to purplish brown.

The players? Most of them would likely have seen it only AFTER some sun exposure had started to affect it, not sitting on a desk in someone’s office. And if it DID malfunction, it wouldn’t have been hugely noticed, or of great concern. After all, the games were telecast in black and white. Newspaper photos all were black and white. And as we can pretty well attest, apparently no one shot much color, especially because most of the Broncos early games that season were night games. Color prints would have been a waste of film and processing. An unexpected color change wouldn’t have been much of a disaster under those circumstances. However, when the day games came around and perhaps it finally changed TOO much, they simply said, “Screw it. We’ll go with white decals.”

(This would be something like the early ”˜50s Lions appearing to have worn gold helmets at one time, when it actually was a changing in the color of the silver because of the material/process itself — scroll down to “Fool’s Gold”, just after the main article).


Again, in the 1962 time frame, this “bad decal” story simply is not something that would not have garnered much attention. And the Broncos might have downplayed it. Who needed another “gang that couldn’t shoot straight” story about the Broncos’ uniforms? Certainly not them.

So that’s it. I’m not really advocating this theory. But to me, and given what I know about the times, it is something that is entirely plausible.

In chess, there’s the old adage about “seeing the whole board.” This “low quality decal” hypothesis is the only one I can think of that sees the whole board, not to mention explaining the confusion. Maybe the Dark Horse was BOTH blue and “brown”.


Thanks Ricko. As always, a well thought-out explanation and yet another new wrinkle to our old debate. Maybe the damn thing was really purple.

What say you readers?


Benchies Header


by Rick Pearson

Does Mission Control have re-entry yet?…


6-11-11 d-slamma pitch

And of course, your beautiful, full-size color version.


uni tracking 2011

2011 Uni Tracking

Back with more tracking from the readers today.

Today features Mike Vamosi, who is a Royals tracker.

Dear Phil,

Here is my 2011 Kansas City Royals UniWatch tracking that I’ve done through excel once more.

The Royals like the past couple years have gone white in night games (exception opening day), powder blue tops in day games, gray on the road with royal blue tops in day road contests. I’ve also have put the teams record depending on the day/night, opponent and such. Thanks so much more detailed next time.

Mike Vamosi

Thanks Mike. All you folks who are tracking your teams, if you’d like to submit reports for the first 2/5ths of the season, send ’em my way.


all sport uni tweaks

Uni Tweaks

We have another new set 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 at keeping to that, and it’s much appreciated!

And so, lets begin:


We start with Marcus Harrington, who has a Wizards set…since I go through these in the order they’re received, you can see by some of the comments that they’re backed up a bit:

My favorite team, the Wizards get re-branded tomorrow. So I wanted to send in my concepts before then. I based it a lot on the D.C. flag.

I’ve attached both the home and road

-Marcus Harrington


Next up is Ryan Mallady, who has a “Stars” (Wiz) tweak as well:

I love the new colors for the Washington Wizards, but still detest the name.

After going through various patriotic/government nicknames (Founders, Senators, Eagles, Colonials), I settled on the Stars: It’s short, simple, city-appropriate, and easily incorporated into their new logo along with the W (which I stole from their new shorts design).

And here’s their home uni with the new name.

Yes, there’s still the Dallas Stars, but they’ve unfortunately kept the old Minnesota colors (along with BFBS), without taking advantage of the actual red, white, and blue of Texas’s lone star flag, so, tough luck. Washington D.C. gets it.

-Ryan in Seattle


And, believe it or not, our last submitter today, Patrick Woody, also has a Wiz tweak. I did not plan the tweaks this way, that’s the exact order in which they came:

Here’s my Wizards tweak from yesterday’s comments

– made “wizarcls” look more like “wizards”
– added much-needed waistband striping
– got rid of the unnecessary silver number outline
– simplified the goofy number font

I realize the number font doesn’t match the wordmark now, but I don’t care. Those numbers were brutal.

Thanks buddy.


Thanks to all the (Washington hoops) tweakers. Back with more tomorrow. No more Wiz, I promise hope.


That’s about it for today. As many of you may know, San Diego will be dressed as the 1936 PCL Padres, and the Nats will be dressed as the ’36 Senators when they play today. I’ll refrain from commenting on the throwback game unless it looks good, since apparently I’m not allowed to criticize a shoddy looking game. The Pads have worn these unis before (unfortunately I’m away from the home base as I write this, so I don’t have access to my Henderson Guide which shows their past look — but I recall it looks good.) I’m not sure if the Nats have ever thrown back to this particular year, but whenever they’ve done throwbacks in the past, they have done a pretty good job of it. I’m expecting a sharp looking game.

Everyone have a good Saturday.


Detractors of free range verbiage may feel free to osculate our collective posteriors, ingest feces and expire. Or if you possess the kinetic physical agility ”“ go fuck yourself. — Juke Early

Comments (52)

    I’m not sure if blue decals would yellow like that. I’ve seen that effect quite a bit on white decals and on clear plastic… but never really on anything darker colored.

    Interesting thought though… now we need to get our hands on some 60’s decal material and see how it reacts to sunlight.

    On second thought, it might not even need to yellow, just turn semi-transparent. I was just fudging around in paintshop with a blue splotch on top of an orange background – and messing with the transparency does give you a funky shade of brown similar to what’s on that mini helmet.

    I lean more toward the “too thin/too transparent” side, too, The Jeff, but I also remembered some decals yellowing. That’s why I mentioned both possibilities.

    My overall point is that it would take some serious hard evidence for me ever to believe that—given the atmosphere in Denver and in football in general in 1962—it was DESIGNED to be brown.

    But it very could well have “muddied up” into something that BECAME a sort of brown, visually a distinctly different color from the blue elsewhere on the uni.

    As I said, it’s the only thing I can think of that makes sense on all fronts, and also is entirely plausible…given the era.

    Interesting theory, Ricko. I still tend to a more straightforward answer – a blue decal makes the most logical sense to me.

    Me, too. A blue decal that wasn’t a very good one, letting too much of the orange helmet show through and changing to horse to a muddy purplish brown.

    Although this doesn’t solve the blue/brown decal debate. The cartoon ‘bronco rider/horse’ on the Bob Scarpitto (orange jersey)card seems to be brown jersey/yellow pants, while the earlier Gene Mingo card cartoon cowboy seems to be wearing an orange jersey/white paints. The plot thickens.

    Football card logos of that era and the years before are almost worthless as a source. The makers were just too careless with them. Not so much with baseball cards because those logos were better known. But pro football was really slap-dash.

    Specific example. The logo on the Mingo card is the logo from the gold and brown era. Was replaced by Bob Bowie’s cartoon along with the color change in ’62.

    That’s the logo used on the Broncos-Bills 1961 program cover in the story…which shows it orange and brown.

    Go figure.

    I am not sure but I don’t think there is any other city in the US where people are more into their flag as Washington DC. Maybe Texans with their state flag. But people in DC wear DC flag T-shirts all the time, tons of bars and restaurants use the flag as part of their logo.

    A lot of it has to do with our desire to become a state, but this city in the last 10 years has a lot of local pride.

    Chicago has its fair share of flag-wavers, including yours truly — I put out my US flag for national holidays and my city flag for other occasions (local elections and the like).

    In fact, the White Sox used to put the city flag link, the Fire had an link based on the flag and the now-defunct link based their entire team identity on the flag.

    It was the Northstars. It was shortened to Stars. Their colors are Black green and gold. Thats their Dallas identity. Tough luck because it’s already taken. Go back to Bullets.

    The NY & SF Giants and the St Louis & Arizona Cardinals wonder what your problem is.

    Not to mention Stars was used in both the ABA and USFL.

    But so what. Contrary to the opinion of Dallas Stars fans, they don’t have close to the broad-based identity of most team names from MLB, the NFL, the NBA and the NHL’s original six.

    Not criticizing anything or anyone, just stating a fact.

    You walk up to most Americans and ask, “Did you hear the Thrashers moved to Winnipeg?”, and the most common response likely would be, “Who?”

    Stars in the WFL, too, before they became the Charlotte Hornets. Hmmm, that one’s been used before and since, too.

    Yes, the Los Angeles Stars existed both in the old ABA and in briefly in the new ABA (formerly ABA2000).

    Original ABA Stars:
    Anaheim Amigos -> LA Stars -> Utah Stars

    2000 version ABA Stars:
    LA Stars -> Southern California Surf

    There was also a Kansas City Stars playing last year in the new ABA, and a Las Vegas Stars playing in the International Basketball League (IBL).

    In the WNBA, there was the Utah Starzz (which is also the name of a women’s soccer team, also in Utah), which became the San Antonio Silver Stars.

    Ahem, they were the North Stars. Black was added to the green and gold colour scheme in 1981. The name on the uniform was shortened to Stars in 1991, while still in Minnesota. They brought those craptacular 1991 unis with them to Dallas and kept right on wearing them till 1999.

    Oh, and speaking of already taken, the Stars’ current road unis are black and gold. The Bruins and Penguins say tough luck. Already taken. The Dallas Stars: Standing Up for Unoriginality in Uniforms Since 1993.

    I’ll second that. Coincidentally, both the Bullets (Wizards) and Sonics (Thunder) have won NBA titles, in back to back years and against each other, no less, and both have now abandoned their old nicknames.

    Here is the Padres 1936 look: link

    and this is Jake Peavy wearing it: link

    Pretty straight forward look, but, as always, will depend on how many are willing to blouse the pants.

    Ricko, Fascinating and thought provoking work today with the Broncos logo.

    Good history and makes us wonder.

    Even if the Dallas Stars already took the name it wouldn’t be the first time the Wizards have stolen another city’s team name(Kansas City Wizards). There are team names that exist in multiple sports. Heck, hockey and basketball currently share Kings. It’s not like They’re the same sport or anything. I know this is way different, but when I was in high school there were 2 leagues in our district. We were the Beavers but there was also a team from the northern league who were the Beavers. We’d end up playing each other in several non-league games or district playoff games across several sports throughout the year. It would also lend itself to several conversations that would go like this, “Who do you think’s gonna win tonight?” “I’m gonna guess that the Beavers are gonna win!” So cheesy. It’s not like Beavers is even a super common mascot name. There are no major college rivals with the same name that I can think of. The closest I can come up with are LSU and Auburn who are in the same conference, but I wouldn’t consider them rivals. Funny that they’re both Tigers but neither is Orange and Black. It doesn’t exist in US pro sports and high school seems too easy, so can anyone think of college rivals with the same mascot?

    Not really rivalry, but Georgia and Mississippi State are both Bulldogs. Yep, there’s some real nickname originality in the SEC. They’ve even got a team called the Wildcats, for good measure.

    The WAC also has a pair of Bulldogs — Fresno State and Louisiana Tech and a pair of Aggies — Utah State and New Mexico State.

    It seems like there are dozens of Bulldogs, Aggies, Wildcats and Tigers in Div 1-AA. I’m sure that’s the case in the other NCAA divisions and NAIA as well.

    RE: Broncos

    Pardon me if this is a stupid question, but has anyone tired looking up the decal’s designer mentioned in the photo?

    That note in the caption was wrong, or at least an oversimplification. The decal was based on a cartoon done by Bob Bowle, but he didn’t actually design the decal itself.

    The Freak on the mound for the Giants and he has preformed a swoosh removal on his undershirt.

    Also, the Phillies cream alts looked a little orange…at least Cliff Lee’s did…

    And it’s Hispanic Hertage Night, meaning “Ceverzos” (sp?) on the front.


    Was just about to comment on this. They never worn that beer-colored top before have they?
    White and blue if I recall but never miller

    To paraphase Bob Falco (Harrison Ford) in AMERICAN GRAFFITI…

    “You seen a guy in a piss yellow baseball jersey?”



    You think the marketing dept. was soul-deep drunk when they came up with these? O.K., they’re not that bad. Certainly better than their drab-ass navy softball tops (both home and away).

    Here’s a frontal shot:
    *note that Prince Fielder seems to be wearing a slightly more fitted jersey, plus he’s wearing shorter undersleeves than usual*

    With the white pants, it looks as if the beer’s on top and the foamy head is on the bottom. I like the color, but that ain’t right.

    I saw this last night on the Brewer’s official Facebook page, but the image was very poor and I thought it was just the glare that made it look yellow. I do have some friends in the marketing department for the Crew, and I can ask them if there is an official color and if there was a reason for wearing it. And I can say with some certainty that the Crew have never worn yellow tops.

    Does anyone know if it’s possible to buy NFL team socks anywhere? (i.e., the socks they wear on the field) Thanks!

    Nice to see all the Wizards tweaks. At least there weren’t any Bills ones for a change…

    BFBS for CFL’s Calgary Stampeders


    Regular helmets are red


    How many other pro football teams have had home and away helmets?

    In either ’68 or ’69 the Eagles’ home helmets were white with kelly wings (their new helmets), but they continued to wear their old helmets (kelly with silver wings) on the road.

    Prior to that, the Chicago Cardinals (in ’57 or so) wore solid white helmets at home and solid red on the road.

    Oh, and the Packers had a white road helmet in the mid-50s, too (with matching white pants). Although I beleive they occasionally wore it at home, too.

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