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One, Two or Three (Possible) 1960s Denver Prototypes?!

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Good Saturday morning, everyone! I hope everyone has had an enjoyable first week of October.

If you followed Uni Watch during Paul’s August hiatus, you’ll recall that long-time reader Leo Strawn made a triumphant return to the board, following a period of inactivity. Leo graced us with a weekday article as he took us through the steps of colorizing a photo of his father, and then returned for several August weekend posts featuring various uniform-related quizzes.

Leo is back again today with a deep dive on some Denver Broncos prototype helmets. Enjoy! Here’s Leo:

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One, two or three (possible) 1960s Denver prototypes?!
by Leo Strawn, Jr.

No “expert” or “historian” knows everything that has ever existed in history. Not even within a very, very tiny sliver of world history, such as sports uniform history.

Allow me to explain. Regarding the orange Dolphins OPI helmet from 1966: If you scroll down the archived UW page on that link to find, “OPI Gumball Helmets and a 1966 Miami Dolphins Prototype Helmet?”, you will obviously notice that the title is in the form of a question.

Within that article are speculative statements like, “This could be evidence…” and, “[I]t seems logical that the Dolphins were seriously considering that color for their helmet”, as well as, “Maybe one day there will be a news story about someone cleaning out an old storage room in Miami and running across a layout of the proposed helmets…or even a full size orange prototype!” It ended with an appeal, “If anyone has any evidence aside from the OPI gumball helmets regarding an orange Dolphins prototype, please let us know!”

I also used my talent to create two photoshopped images in order to show what a prototype “could have looked like” IF it had (as the article was SPECULATING about) ever existed as a full-size prototype. A bit of fun that apparently caused huge egos and tiny heads to explode. If you are one of those, or take everything those people say or have ever said as absolute gospel truth, please, do not stop reading yet.

If you had seen this helmet a few years ago, you could rightly have said that it isn’t a prototype you’d ever seen, but you could not have proven a negative by saying, “It never existed.”

This is why uniform aficionados like us ask questions and investigate. Speculation is a good thing. This is how we make discoveries of prototypes, obscure unis/helmets, etc. It’s part of the reason UW is such a popular site.

But simply saying “that possible prototype absolutely doesn’t exist and/or was never considered; we here at such-and-such website, full of self-proclaimed experts on the subject, have never seen one” while using MY original artwork WITHOUT my permission on a webpage in an impossible attempt to prove a negative is a great way to look really, really bad. (Thanks to Phil and Mike Monaghan for this info which came from this twitter thread linked in the October 1 ticker.)

Can anyone prove that an orange shell Dolphins prototype never existed or was never considered? Can anyone provide any proof that Orange Products, Inc. did NOT get this idea from the Miami Dolphins organization or the American Football League? If so, kindly provide the proof.

To finish my point, had I not asked Bill Schaefer at GUD a question late in 2020, he may never have come across that previously unknown 1965 Washington prototype. It always existed. We just didn’t realize it. So, keep asking questions, researching, going down those rabbit holes.

Similarly, I (and possibly a lot of UW readers) didn’t realize a (presumably) certain 1962 Denver prototype existed. This rabbit hole may contain 2 others, as well…

When Tim Potter, a long-time friend and fellow gumball helmet enthusiast who makes and sells custom gumball helmets using original Orange Products, Inc. (OPI) shells, recently listed this oddity, which includes this curious photo and this companion pic as references for his creation, I calmly set my coffee on the table and immediately sent out a “WTF?!?” email to him.

Of course, the things that stood out were the blue “drunken horse” logo, the unique exterior padding and the text at the top of the pics which read, “Posted February 19, 2021” on one and “Posted September 3, 2021” on the other.

First things first. That blue logo appeared on Denver’s light orange helmets (with a single white center stripe) for the first five weeks of 1962. (This discovery, specifically that the horse was blue, was featured on UW and other sites years ago. To belabor my point: It was proven to be blue, not brown, as some people swore it was, but it took years of speculation and investigation to get there. More on that proof later…)

Next, growing up in THE religion, I was already familiar with the various Ohio State exterior padded helmets, worn throughout most of the 1960s (the 1962 Buckeyes version can be seen BYUDukeFresno StateHarvard and Youngstown State, also sported them that season, so it’s possible that Denver could have considered the same in 1962.

The next step was to figure out where the photos originally came from. Tim tracked them down for us. The source of the photos is this thread on another website familiar to uni/logo aficionados. Let’s examine…

Notice that the original post has a photo of an impressive Denver helmet collection, including the helmet in question, one other helmet someone in the thread noted and another oddity I noticed, as well as this quote, “That is actually a prototype helmet from 1962 Riddell prepared for the team when they were coming up with new uniforms that year, it has a pair of the original blue horse decals on it.” Unfortunately, OP did not provide the source of that quote.

By the time we get to the bottom of the first page, someone posted one of Tom Jacobsen’s photos. At the bottom of the second page, a poster, who had apparently become aware of that thread two months later, commented, “These are my helmets and my photographs of the game vs. the Titans with the blue decals…” Tom’s September 30, 1962 Broncos v. Titans photos from the Polo Grounds were featured by Paul on UW and a couple of other social media sites. Tom’s evidence was also featured elsewhere, e.g.,[Note: Tom’s impressive collection was also loaned to The History Colorado Center, and Paul featured it this past Thursday — PH]

His post then addresses the helmet in question, “The helmet is a prototype Riddell proposed to the Broncos – using the original blue decals – on one of their new helmet types. The red area is extra padding, it wasn’t colored specifically for the team, it was a color used by Riddell when manufacturing these helmets.” Assuming the poster is indeed Tom, I would say that’s a confirmed 1962 Broncos prototype!

Paul also ran an article on Tom’s Denver memorabilia in 2018. If you scroll through that article, you’ll notice that there are close ups of two of the helmets that can also be seen in the photo found in the 2021 thread, including the Kelley helmet mentioned in the fourth post, “I’m curious about the very first helmet on the top row. It’s the only one in which the inner part of the D isn’t colored blue around the horse.” Curious, indeed. Info or ideas, anyone?

Another anomaly I spotted was the last helmet on the right on the top row. The logo is similar to the 1966 Broncos helmet, but the shell doesn’t appear to be the same shade of orange, it looks redder (almost KC red) and there are no center stripes.

Could there be THREE previously unknown prototypes in Tom’s collection? The one Tim Potter made into a custom gumball helmet seems certain (although, perhaps that one wasn’t previously unknown to every UW reader), but we need Tom Jacobsen to offer more details on the other two. Hopefully, if he doesn’t read UW or isn’t alerted to this piece, someone can contact him for info.

Until next time…and hopefully then I won’t still be so [expletive deleted] mad about people associated with a website thinking they ‘know’ what never existed or was never considered in this world (without any proof to back it up) while doing whatever they want with MY original artwork without permission or compensation, and keeping that link live for a full FOUR AND A HALF YEARS. That webpage is archived here for two reasons; in the event the original link suddenly 404s and people say later that ‘it never existed’ and in case I decide to get an attorney.

(Disclaimer: My expressed views are not necessarily the views of Paul, Phil or UW.)

To the good people who read this, Paul, Phil and the rest of the UW crew…Cheers!

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Thanks, Leo! Another great deep dive. I’m most definitely interested in finding out more about that “padded” concept helmet and if it was really a prototype!

Readers? What say you?



MLB Playoff Jersey Tracking

MLB Playoff Uni Tracking

Longtime readers know our longtime MLB Playoff jersey tracker Alex Rocklein has been covering all the jerseys worn by each and every Major League Baseball playoff team/game for the past several seasons, and I’m pleased to announce Alex is again returning for the 2023 MLB Playoffs. With the expansion of the Wild Card (to six teams — three in each league) in 2022, his graphics have gotten more complicated, but they’re still great.

The Wild Card rounds have now been completed — four sweeps — and already we had plenty of uniform variety. In fact, as you’ll see below, in both American League WC series, neither team wore the same jersey. The National League was a bit more ‘uniform,’ with only the Marlins switching tops between games 1 & 2.

Each weekend day (with the exception of tomorrow, as Alex is out of town), I’ll have an updated tracker. It will always include at least two images: one for the current round, and then the “full” or overall 2023 tracker, which will fill out as each round progresses. Let’s go!

Wild Card:

Full Tracker:

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Thanks Alex! Looking forward to this once again throughout the playoffs and World Series!



Guess the Game from the Scoreboard

Guess The Game…

…From The Scoreboard

Today’s scoreboard comes from Chris Hickey.

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.



Guess the Game from the Uniform

Based on the suggestion of long-time reader/contributor Jimmy Corcoran, we’ve introduced a new “game” on Uni Watch, which is similar to the popular “Guess the Game from the Scoreboard” (GTGFTS), only this one asked readers to identify the game based on the uniforms worn by teams.

Like GTGFTS, readers will be asked to guess the date, location and final score of the game from the clues provided in the photo. Sometimes the game should be somewhat easy to ascertain, while in other instances, it might be quite difficult. There will usually be a visual clue (something odd or unique to one or both of the uniforms) that will make a positive identification of one and only one game possible. Other times, there may be something significant about the game in question, like the last time a particular uniform was ever worn (one of Jimmy’s original suggestions). It’s up to YOU to figure out the game and date.

Today’s GTGFTU comes from Jimmy Corcoran himself!

Good luck and please post your guess/answer in the comments below.



And finally...

…that’s it for the early post today. Big thanks to Leo for that deep deep Denver dive!

Later this morning, I’ll have a another post (from Kary Klismet) detailing the throwback uniforms to be worn by Iowa State today — and trust me, you will DEFINITELY want to read this one.

If there’s any breaking uni news today, I’ll try to get an article up on whatever may break in a timely fashion.

Everyone have a great Saturday, and I’ll be back with the SMUW crew tomorrow.



Comments (21)

    The link to the Dolphins orange helmet take you to “2016 Rio Olympics: Basketball”.

    Scroll (waaaaay down) and you’ll see a sub-lede by Leo on the Dolphins orange helmet.

    Should have told you in advance, Phil, the reason why I used an archived link of that article I wrote on the orange Dolphins was that the photos are missing on UW article. (I must have deleted them?)

    This is an archived article (the original link I sent you) that shows all of those photos.


    Wow, Leo! Great stuff! I have so many thoughts on this that I will try to compose in my head and share later. But for now, one quick note:

    TECHNICAL “PROOFREADING” – The link to the 1962 Ohio State helmet is not working. I suspect it’s protected by anti-hot linking measures. As a suggestion, you could link to this Google search page to see several different photos of it without a concerns about anti-hot linking:

    Hey BvK,

    Thanks for pointing that out! Looks like Phil deleted the link and embedded the photo into the article. Thanks!

    Opening Day 2016 @ Petco Park
    Dodgers 15, Padres 0
    Kershaw beats Ross in front of 44,317

    GTGFTS: 4 April 2016. PETCO Park, San Diego, CA.
    Dodgers 15, Padres 0 to start the season. The first of 94 losses for the Padres on the way to the NL West basement.

    GTGFTU is the October 5, 1969 game between the visiting Chicago Bears and the home New York Giants. The Giants won 28 – 24. The players in the photograph include rookie Giants defensive end Fred Dryer (later the star of the television show Hunter) and Bears running back Brian Piccolo ( who would pass away in 1970 and is the subject of the film Brian’s Song). Piccolo’s number (41) is retired by the Bears.

    I’m guessing neither had a clue that an acclaimed movie and a TV cop series were in their future.

    You got it Mike; I chose a shot that didn’t feature the NFL 50 patch because that would have made it too easy. And the reason I chose this photo was that both players achieved fame in TV in different ways, Fred Dryer with his TV series Hunter and though Brian Piccolo would pass away eight months after this game, the film Brian’s Song became an instant classic. My father played against Brian Piccolo in college, I saw clips of that Maryland vs Wake Forest game on youtube.

    The Broncos helmets are really interesting; I had never seen the white one before and wasn’t aware that Riddell was experimenting with external padding. But it makes sense since MacGregor was pretty successful in selling helmets with the padding at that time (like tOSU was using).

    No ideas about the redder orange helmet missing the stripes. But I am guessing that the Kelley helmet was a manufacturing error. I think that the blue on the Broncos D decal was negative space. So I’m thinking that the decals were not properly placed on the inside of the clear shell and some kind of backing was left on them so that when the blue layer was painted (on the inside of the shell) it wasn’t showing through the decals to make the inside of the D blue.

    Wow I love that write up on the prototype helmets – exactly the kind of funky historical knowledge that’s kept me coming back for years! Hoping I can find some cheap tickets for tomorrow’s game at mile high to see the white alternate helmet debut.

    Great research, Leo!
    The ‘skins downgraded their look going from the rear feather to the spear, but I’m glad that prototype stayed off the field.

    That drunken horse is such a good logo. They should use it instead of their robot horse or the D horse.

Comments are closed.