By Phil Hecken, with Timmy Brulia
Good Saturday Morning, Uni Watchers. Tis the day before the big day. I hope everyone has had a great week.
With the Super Bowl kicking off tomorrow, I’m back once again with my buddy and Gridiron Uniform Database co-founder, Timmy Brulia, who has — as he has for the past several seasons — provided YEOMAN research into the uniforms worn by the two Super Bowl combatants.
Over the next two days, we’ll take a deep dive into the uni histories of the Los Angeles Rams (today) and the Cincinnati Bengals (tomorrow). The Rams uni history (as well as team history) is deep, beginning with their first season in the NFL in 1937 — but not as the Los Angeles Rams — as the Cleveland Rams. Timmy’s in-depth history, research and description of the Rams uniforms over the past eighty-five(!) years is nothing less than spectacular. There’s a LOT here. So let’s dive right in.
Rams Uniform History
by Timmy Brulia
In The Beginning: Cleveland
1937: After spending a season in the second edition of the American Football League, the Cleveland Rams become the 10th member of the National Football League. They wear solid red leather helmets, black jerseys with red numbers and red sleeve panels, red pants and black socks. [See GUD note here — PH]
1938: The Rams change up the color scheme. The helmets are now a dark blue, the jerseys also become dark blue with yellow numerals, the pants are a generic khaki with black rear stripes and the socks are dark blue.
1939: Yet again some changes in store for the Rams. Helmets now have a gold sheen, the jerseys are more of a royal blue with yellow shoulders and yellow numbers, the pants are yellow with a thin blue side stripe and the socks are a solid royal blue.
1943: The Rams take a year off due to World War II depleting much of the roster.
1944: The team re-enters play and with it, come some changes. The yellow helmet remains unchanged. The blue jersey drops the yellow shoulders, and a yellow jersey debuts. The yellows have blue shoulders and blue numbers. The pants change from yellow to white, with a very thin yellow/blue/yellow stripe pattern on the sides. The socks feature three thin yellow stripes on the blue pair and the yellow socks have three blue stripes on them. In an interesting twist, the Rams slap white tape on the shoulders of their blue shirts in their 10/15 game at Detroit, for contrast against the Honolulu blue Lions.
The Move To Los Angeles
1946: After winning the NFL Championship, the Rams head west to Los Angeles and make a few tweaks to the unis. The yellow jersey strips the blue shoulder inserts and both sets of socks are now stripeless.
1948: The year the iconic Rams horns are added to the helmet. Player Fred Gehrke is given the green light to paint yellow ram horns on the helmet, starting at the forehead, curling up and around the sides and below the earhole and coming to a point above the earhole. The pants are changed to a rather pale yellow with a blue/yellow/blue stripe pattern. The yellow socks (worn with the yellow jersey) are dropped.
1949: For whatever reason, the Rams ditch blue in favor of red. The Rams switch from leather to plastic helmets and the yellow horns are now ribbed and curl above the earhole. The plain blue jersey is changed to a plain red jersey for one game (at Detroit). The pant stripes become a single red stripe. The socks are solid red.
1950: The Rams return to blue. Helmets are blue again, the yellow horns are smooth again and curl under and around the earhole again. The yellow (primary) jerseys feature blue numbers again and as a bonus, add blue northwestern stripes to the sleeves. The red jerseys become blue again. Stripe pattern on the pants return to the blue/yellow/blue combo. And the socks return to blue.
1957: With the NFL mandate that all teams must have two sets of jerseys (in another bow to the impact of TV), the Rams bring back their blue jerseys and they mimic the style of the yellow jerseys in reverse with yellow front and back numbers outlined in white, tall yellow TV numbers positioned above yellow northwestern sleeve stripes. Speaking of the yellow jerseys, they are worn for three early season road games. On their next three game road swing, the Rams break out white jerseys designed the same as the famed yellow shirts, without a trace of yellow trim to be had!
Ditching the Yellow
1964: With the exception of the socks, which remain a solid royal blue, the Rams make wholesale changes. Yellow is dropped entirely as a trim color. The Ram helmet horns turn white and are fully separated at the front (previously they had been cojoined). The white jersey now becomes the home jersey and the shoulder stripes become one, a very thick blue shoulder loop. The blue jerseys also drop yellow trimmings in favor of white, with white front and back numbers, tall white sleeve numbers and two white stripes on the sleeves. The pants remain white with a blue stripe on the sides.
1970: For the third season in a row, the Rams wear white all season long. With the merger, the Rams add blue lettered player names on the backs of the jerseys and they are very large. A blue v-neck replaces the white crew neck as well.
The Return of the Yellow
1973: Major changes. The yellow returns! The horns on the helmet are yellow for the first time since 1963. The blue jerseys are a wee bit lighter in hue than in recent years and feature a yellow v-neck and numbers. The sleeves feature a yellow ram horn design that begins at the armpit, encircles the shoulder and come to a point on the sleeve. The yellow TV numbers fit comfortably within the horn. The only thing white on the jersey is the nameplate. The white jersey has blue numbers, a blue v-neck and the ram horns on the sleeves in blue. The sleeves themselves are yellow. The pants are yellow with a blue/white/blue stripe pattern. The blue socks are adorned with two yellow stripes, the first time stripes appear on the socks in 28 years. The Rams even color coordinate the cleats, with blue cleats worn with the blue set and white shoes worn with the white set.
1994: Like all other squads, the Rams wear the NFL’s 75th season patch on the left collarbone. As part of the NFL celebration, the Rams wear throwbacks for Weeks 3 and 4, wearing the 1950-52 style yellow jersey with blue front and back numbers, blue northwestern sleeve stripes and a blue NOB. White pants with blue/yellow/blue stripes and solid blue socks.
The Move To St. Louis
1995: After playing in La La Land since 1946, the Rams move to St. Louis and the only change to the clothing is the blue socks going stripeless. It took several weeks, but with the 10/15 game, the Rams wore a patch commemorating their first season in St. Louis on the left collarbone of both sets.
Yellow Becomes Champagne Gold
2000: Bit of an overhaul of the unis for The Greatest Show on Turf. The yellow becomes a champagne gold and the blue goes a few shades darker. The blue jersey now features a gold neckline, gold front, back and shoulder numbers with white outline, white NOB, gold and white shoulder stripes that transition to gold side panels, a new Rams logo on the sleeves and a small Rams wordmark just below the neckline. The white jersey retains the blue neckline, blue front, back and shoulder numbers with gold outline, blue NOB, gold shoulder stripe that become side panels, blue sleeves with the Ram logo and a small Rams wordmark just under the neckline. The pants become gold with no striping and the socks remain a solid, though darker blue.
2008: A memorial patch for late owner Georgia Frontiere is worn on the left collarbone of both jerseys. For Week 1, a league-wide Gene Upshaw memorial patch is worn by the Rams on the right collarbone of the dark blue jersey. Four uni combos are worn: white/gold, white/blue, blue/white and blue/blue.
2012: The gold pants are discarded, resulting in four combos, plus the throwback. With Nike assuming the uniform supplier role for the NFL, the Rams adopt the so-called “flywire” collar on all three jerseys. The dark blue jersey sported commemorative patches on two occasions, an “International Series” patch for the Week 8 game in London, and a league-wide Hall of Fame 50th Anniversary patch worn in Weeks 14 and 15.
2015: In addition to the usual five combinations worn, the Rams – as part of the NFL’s Color Rush campaign for Thursday Night Football, wear an all-yellow uni for Week 15, with the jersey based on the blue throwback jersey, throwback yellow pants and full yellow socks and cleats.
Back To Los Angeles
2016: As the Rams return to Los Angeles, the same five outfits, plus this season’s color rush (Week 15) which feature the white/white combo, plus the helmet horns were switched to white and the socks were 100% white.
2017: A real hodgepodge here. The Rams, apparently itchy to drop the gold and go dark blue & white full time, switch the helmet horns to white and go with blue pants with a solo white stripe. BUT, the jerseys are unchanged (except for the elimination of the fly wire collar) and continue to sport gold trim! The normal four combos are worn, plus the yellow color rush uni and the throwbacks.
2018: With the Rams apparently not yet allowed to wear blue and white jerseys sans gold, the NFL allows the Rams to use the throwback set as their de facto home uniform. Meaning the dark blue jersey with white and gold trim is discarded. The yellow color rush is worn for two games and the white jerseys are worn with both white pants and dark blue pants. For Super Bowl LIII, as the home team, the Rams chose to wear their throwbacks, likely delighting the uni geeks among us.
2019: For the farewell game at the Coliseum, the Rams sported a commemorative patch worn on the left breast. Also, in what was a growing trend around the NFL, the Rams sported all white sans stripes socks with the white set for several games.
2020: In perhaps the biggest uni overhaul in the team’s history, we’ll take it from the top. Helmets: Now a shade of blue called Rams royal, with revised bright yellow (aka “sol”) horns that are reminiscent of an ocean wave as much as the traditional horns as worn previously. Jerseys: Starting with the royal, the rounded numbers start at the top as yellow that fade to the bottom as white. The sleeves have a single sol shoulder loop. A teeny tiny blue patch that simply says “RAMS” is on the left breast. NOB’s are white, and there are no TV numbers. The bone jerseys (that’s right, no white) have shiny rounded blue numbers front and back with a slightly darker blue outline and tiny TV numbers on the sleeves. There is a semi-loop of sol and white on the shoulders surrounding the TV numbers. The NOB is blue. A tiny white rectangular patch on the left breast is emblazoned with “Los Angeles Rams” in all caps. Pants: there are three versions: Blue with a side stripe that starts as white and sublimates into yellow, Yellow with a side stripe pattern of thin white on back/medium blue in front, and bone with thin yellow on back/medium yellow in front. The jerseys and pants are all interchangeable. Socks: either all blue or all bone, no white.
2021: The Rams introduce an alternate white jersey with rounded blue numbers with a slightly darker blue outline, and blue NOB’s. The sleeves have a blue shoulder loop with sol to the edge of the “sleeve.” As with the blue jerseys, there are no TV numbers. A micro small white patch on the left breast has “RAMS” inset. For Super Bowl LVI, the SB logo patch is worn on the right breast and this jersey will be worn with the sol pants and blue socks.
And there you have it. Thanks Timmy! As always, fantastic research and wonderful uni nuggets to boot! Tim will be back again tomorrow as we do it all again, this time with the Cincinnati Bengals unis, so be sure to check in again.
AND JUST IN CASE you didn’t get enough uni knowledge, be sure to check out Paul’s Supe preview (if you haven’t already) from earlier this week!
More on That Groundbreaking Rams Helmet
As Timmy noted in his detailed history above, and as Paul and others have noted over the years, the Rams were the first team to ever paint a logo on an NFL football helmet, way back in 1947. The “artist” was former player Fred Gehrke, who ended up painting the now iconic Rams horns onto the teams leather helmets (for which he was paid the tidy sum of $1 per helmet). There were a total of 75 in all.
A gentleman by the name of Kevin Pederson owns what is believed to be the first of those 75 helmets, and, unsurprisingly he’s been in the news of late. Check out these two videos showing that historic helmet, with some more bits of uni history thrown in.
NERDING out (again!) on the Supe
Last year, in one of the many sub-ledes on Supe Sunday, I ran a piece from reader Tim Shriver (click here and scroll way down), which was an analysis of historic jersey and end zone color matchups. Tim’s back again this year with another tremendous rundown. I’ll turn it over to him here:
As expected, The Bengals chose not to go with their orange alternate jerseys, probably for the better as orange has performed worse than any color in Super Bowl history, dubiously owning a 0-4 record thanks entirely to one team, the Denver Broncos, who have chosen orange for every Supe they’ve been able. So the Bengals get their jersey choice for the second time and they again pick black, which didn’t work out so well for the 1981 team, who succumbed to the 49ers in SB 16.
Seven years later, the 49ers would force them to wear white and achieve a similar result. Good news: No team has ever appeared in the Super Bowl wearing an unpleasant gray-ish jersey that looks like it needs to be run through the laundry, as the 2021 Rams become the 56th squad to appear in white, and the first “away” team to play in their home stadium. How fun!
The Rams have a losing SB record (1-2) in white, so something’s gotta give. White, of course, has a winning record (35-20) overall mostly due to it’s surprising run through the aughts and teens, but get this: For the last five contests, the SB champion has alternated between color and white. The Bucs won last year in white, so color is due for a W if the recent pattern holds. But historically, black has not done all that great, currently holding a 4-5 record.
Last year I noted that yellow Super Bowl end zones had largely become a thing of the past, once overwhelmingly common but this century so far only appearing for the Steelers and Chiefs. The Rams get a royal blue end zone again, as they did in Super Bowl 53; they were assigned yellow in their first two appearances and navy blue in SB 36.
The Bengals are given a black end zone again, the only color they’ve ever had. Of particular note is the color of the text: Both wordmarks are rendered in white, the first such time for either of these teams in the Supe. The Rams have had royal blue and navy blue text before, and white during regular and post-season home games in recent years, but the Bengals are a different story. While the G.U.D.’s field database isn’t quite complete, I believe the word “Bengals” has not appeared in an end zone rendered in white since the days of Riverfront Stadium. Ever since Super Bowl 51 the AFC Champion has been assigned the end zone that is to one’s left as viewed from the press box, usually in the north, northwest (as in Sofi’s case), or west side of the field, and that pattern continues this year.
You can check out Tim’s full spreadsheet here.
Guess The Game…
from the scoreboard
Today’s scoreboard comes from Nic Edin.
The premise of the game (GTGFTS) is simple: I’ll post a scoreboard and you guys simply identify the game depicted. In the past, I don’t know if I’ve ever completely stumped you (some are easier than others).
Here’s the Scoreboard. In the comments below, try to identify the game (date & location, as well as final score). If anything noteworthy occurred during the game, please add that in (and if you were AT the game, well bonus points for you!):
Please continue sending these in! You’re welcome to send me any scoreboard photos (with answers please), and I’ll keep running them.
By Anthony Emerson
Baseball News: Reader Stephen Kraljic has acquired what appears to be a prototype White Sox jersey from the early 70s — a pullover version of the team’s red pinstripe jersey. The Pale Hose didn’t adopt pullovers until 1976, with the infamous “leisure suit” unis. “The jersey is currently with the great Bill Henderson at the Dream Shop for back number customization,” Stephen writes. “The jersey is so unusual that even Bill had not seen it before.” … Some great news out of the MLB collective bargaining negotiations, and by great I mean terrible: helmet and jersey ads are being actively discussed (from multiple readers). … Also posted in the hockey section: the Blue Jays’ AA affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, will have Hockey Night in New Hampshire as they celebrate the departed AHL/ECHL hockey team, the Manchester Monarchs, complete with hockey-style jerseys (from Timothy Josephson). … I’ve long been in favor of the universal DH (sorry — I’m a fan of an AL club), but Rich Eisen has pointed out a consequence of the universal DH that I hadn’t previously considered — no pitchers hitting means no pitchers getting on base, which means no pitchers wearing jackets while running the bases (from Bud Parks).
NFL News: Steve Kornacki was presenting a segment on the Super Bowl for Today yesterday and the graphics department really screwed up the Rams’ and Bengals’ helmets (from multiple readers). … A retailer selling “Detroit Rams” T-shirts has been getting a lot of attention on social media (from multiple readers). … Joe Burrow wears his socks inside out. Athletes are very weird people (from Jared Lloyd). … Todd Radom’s Super Bowl XXXVIII logo has always been my favorite Super Bowl logo, so I really, really love his prototype designs for that game (thanks, Brinke).
Hockey News: Cross-posted from the baseball section: the Blue Jays’ AA affiliate, the New Hampshire Fisher Cats, will have Hockey Night in New Hampshire as they celebrate the departed AHL/ECHL hockey team, the Manchester Monarchs, complete with hockey-style jerseys (from Timothy Josephson). … New sweaters for the British national team (from Mark Gillingham). … I am loving Predators’ G David Rittich’s Stadium Series pads (from Wade Heidt). … This Stanley Cup Champions hat has taken minimalism to the next level — no mention of the Lightning at all! (from Kevin Rice). … USA Hockey is asking fans to pick the best sweater in team history, using a bracket-style tournament (from @artofscorebug).
College/High School Hoops News: Troy men are wearing 1992 throwbacks today (from @BenOnSports).
Soccer News: Really nice new away kit for Irish side Drogheda United (from Ed Zelaski).
Olympic News: US skiers are using battery-powered warmers in their pants (from Josh Dankosky).
Grab Bag: The Landon School, a private college prep school in Bethesda, Md., has a new athletics logo (from Mark Smith). … It is Formula 1 livery season, and McLaren are the fourth team in a week to reveal their new one (from Dell Michaels).
Uni Tweet of the Day
All things considered…I don’t hate the 2022 Supe uni (best one they currently have).
rams – super bowl uniforms: pic.twitter.com/dNzudkONVz
— roberto clemente (@rclemente2121) February 5, 2022
And finally… that’s all for today. Big — nay, YUGE — thanks to Timmy Brulia for that awesome Rams uni history. I know that was a lot for one day, but hey, when you have 85 years of uni history, we’re gonna have it all!
Everyone enjoy your Saturday as we prepare for the big game tomorrow. I’ll be back again with Timmy as he brings you the 50+ year history of the Bengals uniforms. It’s not *quite* as long as the Rams’.