Originally Published at Uni Watch
By Phil Hecken
I’m back again with Tim Brulia, Uni Watch uniform historian, and his able partner, Bill Schaefer, with Part II of their incredible NFL Uniform Project. If you missed last weekend’s Part I, do yourself a favor and go back and read that before continuing.
When we left off with Part I, we heard “Bill’s Story” of this project. Bill actually had a bit more to lay out that I didn’t include last weekend, so I’d be remiss in not including it here:
I guess what we’re looking for is to set up as a database of our images kinda like FUPP. However, we’re hoping to set it up in such a way that you can both access any team from say a ’1990′ page of thumbnails (like how FUPP is set up) or, if you preferred, you could click on ‘Dallas Cowboys’ and see their entire history in thumbnail form where you could then choose to go to any year for that particular team.— Bill Schaefer
Once we get past this point, we would love to be able to come up with a way to display the “Weekly Pair-Ups.” Whether this can be achieved by either accessing a seperate team page that displays their schedule for a certain season and each game score serves as the link to the pair-up images of each game or by just having a “2010 NFL Schedule and Results” where the game scores similarly serve as the link to the image. The specifics are kind of negotiable at this point – at least until we get the bulk of the site up and running. As non-computer programming people, Tim & I don’t know which would be harder to set up so we remain open to either approach.
We both agreed that a forum would be useful so that comments, criticisms, and suggestions can be made with Tim & I having power to moderate. If someone comes in with an error they think they’ve found, along with the proof of the alteration needed, we want to be able to see that, correct it, and give credit where it’s due.
I think the bottom line is that we want the site to be user friendly and logical in its structure so that you never have to ‘hunt’ for something.
Thanks, Bill. If there is anyone out there reading this who may have interest in setting up a uniform database as Bill is describing, drop Tim a line. OK? OK!
Now, lets move on to Timmy Brulia’s description of this magical mystery tour:
Hi, I’m Tim Brulia.
A little bit about me and my interest in sports uniforms in general and pro football uniforms in particular.
I am originally from Huntingdon, PA and currently reside in Enola, PA. Aside from sports, I have an interest in music, swimming, and the highways and byways of Pennsylvania.
My love of sports uniforms coincides with my love of sports going back to my childhood. Unlike a lot of you, my father was never much of a sports fan. He’d watch the occasional football game, but otherwise, he had no interest. He did like to hunt and fish, though. He passed on at an early age (48), a victim of colon cancer.
I have been a fan of sports since I was 8 years old. As previously mentioned, I also loved uniforms at roughly the same time. I drew little pictures of uniforms by pencil and then by crayons. Baseball and football gained my interest at first and then basketball, then hockey and later, soccer.
Fast forward to 1990. In a local bookstore, I bumped into the Marc Okkonen epic book. “Baseball Uniforms of the 20th Century.” I had seen samples of his work of the White Sox and Pirates prior to the book, but to see a team by team history and then — even better — a year by year synopsis of every team’s uniform blew me away. I was amazed and was thirsting for more.
The 21st century arrived and in 2001, I discovered Andrew Greenstein’s marvelous nhluniforms website. Originally, his site consisted of uniforms only from the 1967-68 season, the first season of the expansion era of the National Hockey League. I made contact with Andrew and was able to supply him with enough information to help him be able to bring the site back in time. At first back to the 1942-43 season (the first season of the “Original Six” era) and then all the way back to the first season of the NHL (1917-18).
About a year later, I came upon the “Football Uniforms Past and Present” (fondly known as FUPP) site, which depicted NFL and AFL uniforms going back to 1959. As with the aforementioned work, I was awed and delighted to see such a site! Of course, the geek in me noticed a few things that needed to be revised. I made contact with the site administrator, Craig Wheeler. He was more than happy to make the adjustments needed and Craig was extremely pleasant to work with. But alas, life got in the way and eventually, the site went dormant.
After a few frustrating years to either see FUPP be resurrected or to see a new site come about, I took it upon myself to try and do something about it. So, I went about researching old newspapers, books, magazines, on-line archives, anything to try and determine what teams wore what and when. About 2006, I finally was able to piece together what uniforms were worn by every team in the major pro football leagues since 1933.
Why 1933? 1933 is basically the B.C./A.D. timeline in pro football history. Prior to 1933, the NFL was very much the gypsy league. Teams came and went with mind-numbing frequency. Franchises moved, scheduled games on the run, occasionally employed ringers, folded in mid-season, and the like. By 1933, though, the NFL decided to shed this fly by night operation and become a true first class operation. 1933 was the first season of a rulebook separate from that of college football, two separate divisions, a true Championship Game between division winners, franchises in major markets (Portsmouth would move to Detroit in 1934) and an eventual attempt at a fair and balanced schedule. While eventually we hope this site will include as many uniforms as possible in the 1920-1932 period, for the reasons mentioned, we feel that 1933 is a good starting point.
Getting back to the story, I was able to have Paul Lukas of the Uni Watch blog website, perhaps the most well read web site dedicated to sports uniform news and discussion, place my research for the 1933-1958 era as a “research project” on his site [see link above -- PH]. He promoted the documentation in early February of 2009. This had followed an earlier submission to his site of “White at Home in the NFL”, a project that was greatly enhanced by the diligent work of Kevin Tepley and Kyle Standefer, which details team by team (later season by season) every instance of teams that wore white jerseys for home games in the NFL since 1957. In the 1933-1958 document, I did ask that anyone who was willing to tackle the project to seek me out and I would be more than willing to assist. Good folks did contact me, but for whatever reason, were not able (or have not been able) to see it through. Nonetheless, I thank any and all to those who approached me for their interest.
However, one individual, Bill Schaefer, who first touched base with me in September of 2009, was the one who persevered. He showed me samples of his work. From there, we went into a frenzy of emails, tweaks, and much back and forth discussion on colors, stripes, fonts and the like. By early 2010, we had completed the 1933-1958 era. At Bill’s suggestion, we decided to tackle the rest of the unis; from 1959 through 2003 to complete the FUPP era, and then bringing it on home from 2004 to the present. Some uniforms were tweaked as many as 6 or 7 times from original draft to finished product. We have disagreed often, but when we came to the final product, we both made sure that we were at least on the same page. “Just get it right” has been our mantra. Bill’s dedication to the project and attention to detail are unmatched. His patience with me is appreciated more than I can say. I can’t thank him enough!
In conclusion, I have only supplied Bill and others with the descriptions. It is Bill who deserves full and total credit for bringing the words into illustrations that vividly show what the words look like.
And thank you, Tim.
As you can see, dear readers, Tim & Bill are really onto something incredibly important in the annals of uniform history documentation. And, as I alluded to last week, they’re almost there. Here’s where you fine folks can help — if anyone out there has the knowledge and tools to help them build a website, to the specs Bill & Tim have laid out above, you’d not only be assisting them tremendously, but you’d be advancing the documentation of uniform history a thousand-fold in the process. If you’re interested, please contact Tim directly.