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Let’s Talk About the Jets’ Old Uniforms

With the Jets unveiling their “New York Sack Exchange” throwbacks two days ago, my Uni Watch Premium article on Substack this week is a deep dive on the uniforms that inspired the new throwbacks. Like all the other NFL deep dives I’ve recently done (for the Bucs’ creamsicles, the Eagles’ Kelly greens, the Seahawks’ blue/silver set, the Vikings’ original purple set, and the Oilers’ uniforms), this one is jam-packed with obscure fun facts and great vintage photos.

You can read the first part of the article here. In order to read the entire thing, you’ll need to become a paid subscriber to my Substack (which will also get you access to my Substack archives, including all those other NFL deep-dive articles I just mentioned). My thanks, as always, for your consideration!


Comments (9)

    Does it seem to you that NFL teams recycled jerseys more in the ’70s and early ’80s than they do now? In other words, players would wear jerseys from previous seasons instead of a whole new jersey.

    It’s the only explanation I have for some of the examples on the Jets pics of some players having the chunky, rounded Champion nameplate font and others having more narrow letters on their nameplate. I see the same in late ’70s footage of the Giants: Some players have sans-serif fonts on their nameplates and others have the serify font they wore through the ’80s and into the ’90s.

    In addition to uniforms being worn for more than one season, there were also multiple companies involved in making and maintaining the equipment. With less standardization, people did with what they had. Without social media, you may never see some of the other teams’ uniforms unless they make the TV highlights. Without fan merchandise being the colossal enterprise it has become, items weren’t as readily available. Now, everything that touches a player is snapped up into a commodity for resale.

    The budget was different in the 70’s, sometimes a player likes the fit of his jersey and doesn’t want a new one, if the jerseys are the same the next season the equipment manager doesn’t really care if a jersey got reused. In 1971 you will see Washington wearing their 1970 durene jerseys made by Rawlings with different fonts and their new 1971 mesh jerseys made by Sand Knit during the same games.
    In the WFL in 1974 the original jerseys were made by Sand Knit and not every number was available. Bob Colonna “the equipment manager” ordered new jersey’s only for players who needed them plus a few backup jerseys. These were made by Spanjan, they were very cheap, and the sleeve stripes would flake after a couple of washings, and the blue was different than the Sand Knit ones.
    While helping him hang these back up when they returned from the cleaners, I asked him why the two different sets of jerseys? He told me he didn’t want to do it, but the Spanjan ones were a much better deal than what Sand Knit charged but you get what you pay for, he hated the quality of them. Tim Rossovich wore #65,#82 and#88 in two seasons, Bob told me he had to order extra Rosso jerseys because he was a legend with the Eagles and a couple of times his jersey never made it back from the cleaners, it would get stolen. This also happened to my father, his white Champion practice jersey was stolen at the cleaners. This was not like the NFL where you would have a large amount of old game jerseys available if needed that could be used for practice. Only one number was available for the practice jerseys. Bob also ran short on helmets and actually had to get helmets from other places and spray paint them himself, he didn’t even take the facemasks off. I can’t picture that happening today in the NFL where they have hundreds of helmets available. In the 70’s, recycling uniforms was a way of saving money for the organization.

    When I am talking about the WFL, I should have said the Philadelphia Bell. Besides Sand Knit there were several other manufactures for other teams, I should have made that clear.

    The best, or worst? example of mismatched jerseys are the early 70’s Dolphins. 1972? Think it was the perfect season where some players wore old jerseys with no stripes and a thicker number font, and some others wore jerseys with stripes and a thinner number font. Never heard a reason for that.

    Yes, the jerseys with no stripes and the thick numbers were made by Wilson, the jerseys with the stripes and the thin numbers were made by Sand Knit both style of jerseys had sewn on numbers. When they finally went with stripes and screened on numbers the jerseys were made by Russell Athletic.

    Tom Rafferty wearing the Cowboys’ pre-1982 whites through 1989 is still remarkable

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