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Steelers Announce Block-Number Throwbacks for This Sunday

Yesterday the Steelers teased some sort of announcement for today. I was hoping it might be the return of their yellow throwback helmet. Instead, it turned out to be a different type of retro-themed announcement, as the team revealed that it will be wearing the popular block-number throwback jerseys this Sunday against the Packers.

The Steelers wore this block-numbered jersey from 1968 through 1996 and then changed to their current italic number font in 1997. According to the Gridiron Uniform Database, the block numerals were brought back as a throwback for one game in 2018 and have subsequently reappeared for one game apiece in 2019 and 2022. The Steelers have won all three of those games.

The Steelers’ Color Rush uniform also has block numerals, but in yellow. The team also wore a yellow block font with a different throwback uniform that was worn from 2007 through 2011.

For better or worse, today’s throwback announcement qualifies as bigger news because the Steelers are not among the NFL teams that release their uniform schedules before the start of the season. Do you prefer to see the uni schedules ahead of time, or do you like it better when a team can surprise us like the Steelers are doing here?

Comments (39)

    I prefer knowing ahead of time in case I buy tickets. If I wanted to go to a game or two in a season, that would strongly influence my decision of which game to go to. I wouldn’t want to see the Lions in all grey or the Bears with orange helmets & jerseys, etc. etc.

    Agreed 100%. Used to do this with the Bucs in their previous throwback stretch before the helmet rule went into effect. It seriously influenced buying tickets. And going to a game for me also requires some planning, so knowing ahead of time which date Im going helps a lot and not have to find last minute baby-sitters and things like that.

    I’ve always felt at home on this site, among like minded people.
    But I’ll hoover up any live sporting event if possible and commitments allow.
    But deciding games based on what the teams are wearing ahead of sporting context??
    A step too far for me…

    Agreed…I go to one Seahawks game per season and this year went to the game versus the Browns specifically because they were going to wear the throwbacks.

    The crucial detail of the Steelers’ jersey has always been the player’s name in yellow, especially the two-color treatment on the white jerseys. As long as that tradition is observed, I would like the Pittsburgh uniforms with block numbers or Futura Condensed.

    Unpopular opinion, I know, but I prefer the italic numbers better. I also prefer that a team doesn’t have a preview of what they’ll be wearing for the season. Leave something to look forward to and be surprised by.

    I second both of these opinions.

    I’m 40 and the majority of my time watching the Steelers the unis have had their current font and it’s made a nice visual difference between the powerhouse team of the 70’s and the Cowher Power teams I started watching full time in 1996.

    That said, I hate to see Steel Curtain era players numbers and names on the current uni template.

    Of course I would like to know ahead of time when special uniforms will be worn (and regular home and away, too) so that I can match that day, whether I’m watching at home, gathering with friends, or going to the game itself. We generally know each of the uniforms that a team will wear each season, so it’s not a big surprise when they do this; it only becomes an issue of surprising us with timing—which is more annoying to me than exciting.

    I prefer the italic numbers. The block numbers make me think of Iowa now since I watched the Hawkeyes use that font more recently.

    1997 is a notable year in Steeler football uniform history for another reason besides the switch to italicized numbers. That is the only year the name on back was not in gold on the away jersey. As a huge Steeler fan growing up, I remember when the 1997 “new” uniforms were released (it hardly felt like much of a change) and the names were in black print on the white jersey instead of gold. I thought it was terrible, and was so happy they changed it back in 1998. As small as that was, it made it feel like it wasn’t the Steelers I was watching. In fact, now that I think about it, noticing the black letters may of been the moment “I got it”!

    I remember that season; I worried that the change might be permanent. I’m grateful it was a one-year aberration.

    Block is way better. Can’t express to you how much I hate the italic number font on my beloved Steelers.

    Bears fan and I feel that curvy numbers are our intellectual property. Go back to block.

    That includes the Bengals, who flat out stole from us.

    Noticed that the “splash” photo of TJ Watt had the helmet with italic font but block number on jersey….
    Was that a thing with the “One Shell” rule or were they cheap or lazy ???
    Aren’t they just stickers?
    And something to look for in the Packers game, eh?

    Neither cheap nor lazy. Historically accurate. The jersey number font was switched from block to Futura to align with the helmet numbers that were around going back to the Bradshaw/Harris/Stallworth/Steel Curtain years.

    Right on …Did not know that, Thanks….
    Still hoping the Chargers change the helmet number font-color back to italic-black…
    NFL 75th throwbacks were awesome too…..

    The Steelers did not just wear any block numbers…that was the famous Sand Knit font that dominated pro football in the 60s and 70s and was an amazing, evolved modernized piece of utilitarian art IMO. Aesthetics do count for something. The Penguins still wear the exact number font and NOB font…the Raiders use it as well, except they stupidly added a bottom serif to the TV 2.

    “…that dominated pro football in the 60s and 70s.”

    This is exactly why the italic numbers are better. They’re unique to the Steelers. Block numbers just make you look like Generic Football Team.

    Sometimes it’s better to be Basic Football Team than use an overwrought Nikefied font that is illegible from a distance and ugly to boot.

    Italic, or rounded? I’ve never noticed their numbers as slanted or skewed, but they definitely moved away from the blocky Machine font.

    I prefer the black facemask myself, and I’m OK having it paired with the 70s throwbacks, since that’s what they had for 2 of the 4 championships in the 70s. Also, they originally launched these throwbacks to celebrate the 40th anniversary of their Super Bowl XIII championship, and they were wearing black facemasks for that Super Bowl. That said, when they wore these uniforms on Christmas Eve last year to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Immaculate Reception, they should have gone with gray facemasks for that game, since that’s what they were wearing in 1972. In fact, I was disappointed that they went to the trouble to paint the field historically accurately, including the correct AFC logo for 1972 in the end zone, but did not go with the proper 1972 facemask color.

    The block numbers with the modern jersey cuts looks way too busy, especially from the top-down style shots.

    Regardless, they should either stick with the block number jerseys or get rid of them. It’s really hard to not view this as anything more than nostalgia-bait and a chance to sell more jerseys. The Steelers have had some fun throwbacks that they should bring back, like the Batman jersey they haven’t brought back ever.

    The Steelers should bring back the bumble bee jerseys. They had great success in them, they looked great, and provide more of a cool throwback vibe than just changing the numbers for a game.

    Knowing which uniform my favorite team will wear at home was a given before the Color Rush, City Connect, City Edition or Throwback trends. Even so I do not really care what they wear when I am there: I want them to win. Watching the game on TV is somehow different: I want their uniforms to look really great as the cameras magnify everything. In this particular case I prefer the italic numbers to distinguish them from Iowa indeed. Both fonts look great. Not a Steelers fan but it is my alltime favorite football jersey, both in black and white.

    Any word on when their Color Rush jerseys are coming out this year? Also, they should wear the black pants with the regular black & white jerseys

    I wish GUD would use something other than 11 for all the uniform numbers. You can’t see how the rounded numbers look from viewing that website.

    Otherwise it’s highly invaluable though. Sometimes I like to just click on a random year in the 1970s and sigh nostalgically about how much better everybody looked back then.


    This is great but when are they going to fix their sleeve striping?
    The bottom white stripe basically disappeared now thanks to Nike.

    Since the Maulers adopted the Steelers’ color scheme, I wish the USFL squad would try yellow jerseys with black pants, to put more distance between the two teams.

    I feel compelled to share a story about teams not divulging their uni-combos before the game. Readers here probably remember the 1994 NFL season, when teams across the league wore throwback unis for select games throughout the season. It was a totally unprecedented move at the time, it was so popular, the 49ers even wore their throwbacks in the the Super Bowl.

    I was a freshman in high school at the time, and was lucky enough to have season tickets to the Chargers. My grandpa would take me and my best buddy to every game. The Chargers throwbacks were widely considered the best in the league (thank you, Chris Berman).

    The team was doing surprisingly well leading up to a much-anticipated Monday Night home game against the rival Raiders. All week, the team denied having any plans to wear the throwbacks, as the NFL had not designated Week 14 as a throwback weekend. Still, rumors swirled.

    I remember the anticipation as we walked up the ramp from the concourse to the seating area at Jack Murphy Stadium and my buddy said, defiantly, “They better be wearing the throwbacks!” We reached the top of the ramp and could see down onto the field – and they were wearing those beautiful powder blues. Still gives me goosebumps to this day.

    For the record, the Chargers lost the game, but did go on to play in their only Super Bowl, where they (sadly) stuck with their normal road uniforms.

    In this day in age of every team having multiple combos, I do appreciate the uni-schedules – but it does take away that air of anticipation just wondering if they’ll wear something special.

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