It's Just 'Bad,' So Don't Call It 'Clean'

Ten years ago, back in June and July of 2011, I contributed to a blog post by Rob Holecko in which I ranted about the shortcomings of mono-white uniforms. But up until that point, teams still had the dignity to wear colored socks with their white pants and jerseys.

Who could have predicted that in just four short years, in 2015, the League would unleash upon its fans...the Color Rush? A misnomer for sure, in just the second year of the Color Rush program in 2016, 12 of the 15 games promoted as 'Color Rush' games featured a team in all-white.  Things had gone from bad to worse.

In the five seasons since, fourteen teams 'semi-regularly' trotted onto the field wearing white jerseys, pants, and socks - Color Rush or otherwise. Eight of these teams have since been nice enough to offer us a visual comparison...proof that the mono-whites can look better simply by adding colored socks.

For your viewership...

Buffalo


Cincinnati (2020 versions)


Indianapolis

Jacksonville

Miami

NY Jets

Philadelphia
(Honestly, these would look even better with 'midnight' green socks instead of black.)


Tennessee

Not one, single all-white combo with white socks provides a superior look above the same uniform with colored socks. It's just that simple.

The other six teams have not, as yet, granted us an on-field look at the superior 'colored-socks' uniform. In my capacity as the 'graphics guy' here at GUD, I am taking it upon myself to provide that look for you...

Atlanta

Dallas

Green Bay

New Orleans (twice)

(If only the Saints would change their helmets to this shade of gold and make this their full-time template. If only.)


NY Giants

San Francisco

The pre-2021 Bengals possessed one of the more tolerable all-white Color Rush uniforms, but even it could have been improved by the addition of non-white socks.



Oh, and let me throw out one more in which NEITHER combo has yet to make it onto the field. Presenting the first graphic representation of the new Cincinnati Bengals' all-white combo for 2021...

On a related (but not related) topic, I have to say that the recent trend of teams going 'sani-less'...it's really starting to grow on me in a good way.

As the season nears towards the end of the Summer, I will again be publishing the 'Season Preview' highlighting the complete set of new uniforms for the upcoming 2021 season. Be on the look-out.

Bill Schaefer





 
























23,158

It is my hope that this particular number has sparked your curiosity. 

No. It is not a new rushing record.

No. It is not an amount of money paid to Tom Brady each time he sits on the bench between possessions.

It represents something else. Something we, here at the GUD, have been tracking literally since we broke ground on this site 10 years ago. Something that had become a 'white whale' for us. Something that we had almost given up hope on.

When we began adding preseason games to GUD, one historical tidbit caught our attention. Prior to the 1976 season, the St. Louis Cardinals played the San Diego Chargers in Japan on August 16. It was the first professional football game played outside of North America. A few clips showing footage from the game floated around the internet and eagle-eyed GUD visitors noticed that not only were the Cardinals wearing the American Bicentennial patch on one shoulder, but they were wearing some other patch on the the opposite shoulder.

It both infuriated and frustrated us at GUD because we could not get a clear, close look at it. Further confusing matters was the fact that newspaper photos showed the Cardinals wearing the same 2 patches for 2 other games that preseason. One game before Japan and one game weeks after Japan.

8/7/76 - OAK v STL at Tempe, Arizona

9/3/76 - KC @ STL


What was this patch? Was it an advertisement? The image seemed to somewhat resemble the logo of Japan Air Lines. One clip in the video footage showed the Cardinals disembarking a JAL jet upon arrival in Japan. Perhaps it was some sort of sponsorship for the game and a mid-70s version of the JAL logo.

Late 1960's Japan Air Lines logo


Was it a memorial? Had someone in the Cardinals organization passed away and the franchise sought to memorialize the person with a jersey patch? It seemed unlikely since the patch only appeared on the Cardinals' red jerseys and not the white ones.

8/21/76 - STL @ CHI

8/28/76 - DEN @ STL


Because the Cardinals were no longer in St. Louis, there really wasn't anyone to go to there to ask for help and the 'Arizona' Cardinals did not respond to our requests for assistance, likely wanting to remain distant from their pre-Arizona heritage.

Online searches in 2015 had led us to an image of a jersey possessed by the Pro Football Hall of Fame donated by Cardinal Terry Metcalf alleging to be from that specific game in Japan. However, the photo of the jersey the HOF published online showed only the back of the jersey and not a single glimpse of the patches.

Over the years I twice attempted to contact the Hall of Fame Research Center by mail (as they, themselves, recommend on the HOF website) asking for a look at the front of the jersey to see the patches. I never heard back from either of my attempts in 2015 and 2017. I began to think that the Hall was simply saying the jersey was from the game but didn't want to show the front due to not actually having the patches present which would prove it was not from the game in question at all.

One week ago, I found myself watching a somewhat longer collection of video clips from the game and the ceremonies involved. After the game ended, fans, reporters, and cameramen took to the field  as the players attempted to leave. A few Cardinals were cornered by these reporters and cameramen as in the Jim Hart photo posted above. But the new video clip offered something I had not seen before.

Defensive lineman Charlie Davis leaned close to the camera with his right shoulder. The same shoulder burdened with the patch in question. I managed to pause the video at the specific point in which the patch was the closest and most visible. I then enlarged it and rotated it.


From what I could make out, the letters "B U M A" were visible. This was the first lead we'd had in this search for years. But what the heck was BUMA?!?

I sent the photo to everyone else here at GUD hoping for some additional input and opinions. Within an hour of sending out the photo, I received word from our Tim Brulia. 

He had solved the riddle.

The letters were not BUMA but rather SUWA. Not wanting to wait for the other shoe to fall, I continued to read from Tim's brilliance. Prior to the game in Japan, the city of St. Louis had established relations with the city of Suwa, Japan, as 'sister-cities.' The patch was meant as a tribute from one city to the other. Tim also provided an image of the Suwa city flag and it perfectly matched the logo seen on the patch.

April 11, 1976 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

August 17, 1976 - St. Louis Post-Dispatch

We now had everything we needed so I set myself to creating a graphic version of the patch to use on GUD as all of the photos were still far too grainy.

I added the revised graphic to the Cardinals' 1976 team image and jersey and uploaded it onto the site. However, I waited to add this find to our site's Update Blog. As our viewers know, we typically post separate blog entries in our Update section describing changes to images that we make and showing the evidence detailing the reason for the change(s). Instead of doing so in the Update blog, I decided to display the update here due to the amount of information and the scale of its importance. I also wanted to wait because of the possibility that something else was brewing. Something big.

In the early days of GUD, a fan from Dublin, Ireland, named Alan Kennedy, frequently contacted us with information regarding a personal hobby of his. Alan collects NFL patches. Anniversary patches. Memorial patches. Captaincy patches. If it's been worn on an NFL jersey, Alan either has one already, he's in the process of getting one mailed to him, or he's bargaining with someone to get one. Alan has been a great asset in helping us differentiate between an authentic patch worn in League play and a reproduction, generally those produced by Willabee & Ward.

By pure coincidence, when I included Alan in the distribution of the raw 'BUMA' image, he informed me he had just days earlier launched his own request with the Hall of Fame Research Center for an image or two of the front of the Metcalf jersey. I shared with Alan my past failures at soliciting aid from the Hall over the years, but Alan maintained a positive attitude and continued to hope for positive results.

On January 29, 2021, at 11:28 AM while eating my lunch, my email alert chimed that I had received something new. Indeed, I had.  

The man Alan had made contact with at the Hall of Fame, Mr. Jason Aikens, had come through -- BIG TIME. He sent Alan several photos including those you see here.



Finally, our long wait was over and we could now fill in this gap of NFL uniform history that had so nagged us - taunted us - for years. I was amazed at how the true colors were so different from what we had expected based on the grainy, video stills. Orange instead of yellow. Blue instead of black. The truly astonishing part was that the patch appeared to be made of denim. Just. Simply. Awesome.

The patch now takes its permanent place on our site never to be puzzled over again.

Furthermore, having reached out and making contact with Mr. Aikens, myself, I thanked him profusely not only for the photos but also for allowing us to use the image of the patch on our site. As it turns out, Mr. Aikens had informed Alan that not only was he aware of the GUD, but had, in fact, used our site as a reference on several occasions. Mr. Aikens informed me that he would be happy to look into some of our most notable instances where we had not, as yet, been able to produce photos from games in the 1940s and 50s thereby enabling us to remove a few more 'gaps' currently present on GUD. 

Things continue to look bright for the future of the Gridiron Uniform Database. Stay tuned!

Bill Schaefer
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Oh, by the way, in case you were still wondering about that number - 23,158???

10,338 miles from Japan to St. Louis.

544 miles from St. Louis to Canton, OH.

5,577 miles from Canton, OH, to Dublin, Ireland.

6,699 miles from Dublin, Ireland, to my email inbox here in Bradenton, FL.

In all, 23,158 miles. Nearly one complete circle of our planet, Earth.

Rest Easy, SUWA, you deserve it.

- BS

Newly Discovered Prototype: 1965 Washington Redskins

Last week, I received an email from contributor Leo Strawn. To sum up, Leo stated that he was interacting with a man who wanted verify the story on the 1964 Redskins prototype helmet he had just purchased. The story goes that during the middle of the 1964 season, the Redskins created his prototype helmet with the spear logo but waited until 1965 to adopt it. Mr. Strawn then contacted me to see if I had seen anything in my research that could confirm the man's story. I answered that I had not, but that I would do some digging and see if I could find something. I did.

During the 1964 season the Redskins wore their single-feather helmet for the 7th straight season after having begun its use in 1958. I found no mention in the Washington Post backing up the man's claim of the spear-helmet turning up during the 1964 season.

I expanded the search and began searching January through May, 1965. JACKPOT!

A Washington Post article from March 20, 1965, stated...

"The Redskins decided yesterday to change their helmet insigne with an Indian headdress on both sides instead of the single feather on top. Also considered was the Indian head emblem of the club, wearing the headdress."

This 'smoking gun' clearly illustrates that the change wasn't decided until 'yesterday' (March 19, 1965) rather than at some point during the 1964 season.

But that wasn't all. The article included a photo of a man wearing the 'headdress' prototype. However, that prototype never saw the field.

Two additional articles from July 25 and July 29 paint a somewhat altered picture. The July 25 article states...

"Paul Dube of Arlington reports that he and a friend have written to the Redskins to protest the proposed change of the helmet insignia from a feather on top to an arrow on the side."

At some point between March and July, the Redskins scrapped the 'headdress' logo and changed to an 'arrow' on the side - what we now refer to as the 'spear' logo. 

The July 29 article (written in the form of a 'letter to the editor' stated...

"Note to Redskin chief Ed Bennett Williams: Alan Goldstein, a college student who lives in Wheaton, is heartbroken over the elimination of the symbol...Alan writes that he was watching TV and saw pictures of a Redskin scrimmage and knew immediately that something was wrong...It seems the feather on the helmet is no more..."The insignia (the feather) has become a symbol to us Redskin fans," writes Goldstein. "It doesn't seem like the Redskins without it. I have talked to several other fans and they agree. You don't see the Rams changing their helmets. I think that in view of the way the fans have supported the Redskins through the past lean years, the Redskins can do us one small favor and give us our symbol on the helmet back. Thank you."

There's a lot to digest here. Even back in the 60s, fans didn't like change for the sake of change. Also, the sense of entitlement was strong, as well. Basically, 'you guys stunk but we still supported you,' which was followed by "give us OUR symbol back." (The Redskins had not had a winning season since 1955 and that span also included back-to-back 1-win seasons in 1960-61.)

After all, "You don't see the Rams changing their helmets." I wonder how modern Rams fans would feel about this gentleman's argument in 2020.

Using the newspaper photo from March 20, I put together a color image of the helmet using the same darker shade of burgundy from the 1964 helmets.


I have seen photos of many NFL helmet prototypes. There was Paul Brown with a table full of Bengal prototypes including a primitive version of the striped helmet that would eventually be modernized into their current helmet that began use back in 1981. There was the photo of Tex Schramm holding the infamous Cowboys' 'boot logo' helmet. The Jaguars were originally to have silver helmets with a leaping Jaguar logo. That design got nixed due to a solid resemblance to the Jaguar automobile logo. The Texans were to originally have had a white version of their current helmet when they began in 2002. There was also the infamous 49ers' 'one-day' helmet that was so offensive to Niners fans that the team scrapped it completely after a single day. Somehow, this Redskin prototype was lost to the ages...until we stumbled across it and brought it back out into the light.

Bill Schaefer


"We Are Sparta!" or "Occam's Razor Meets the GUD: Case Number 1,311"

For those not familiar with the the principle of Occam's Razor, let me explain it in the simplest terms possible. No pun intended.

Occam's Razor basically states that when you are trying to solve a problem or explain an occurrence, generally speaking, the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one.

Today we make the case for just such an issue.

For the 10 years that GUD has been operational (Really? 10 years?), we have labored under the assumption that the Portsmouth Spartans (later the Detroit Lions) had team colors of purple and yellow. All available resources stated it as being so. That is until a contributor brought this to our attention...

In the book Home & Away: The Rise and Fall of Professional Football on the Banks of the Ohio by Carl M. Becker, it was noted when discussing the Spartans of 1930 that "The Spartan management ordered new uniforms, purple jerseys with black stripes on the front and white numerals on the back, black pants made of an airplane cloth with a purple knit insert on the back. Socks and headgear would remain the same."

Historically relevant, the same resource outlines that, as a non-League team in 1929, the Spartans had worn blue and white uniforms in 1929 before switching to purple for the 1930 season.

Based on this revelation, we redesigned our representation for the Spartans with the help of this photo, the only game photo for the 1930 Spartans that we have located at this point.

11/2/30 - PORT @ GB

If you have your eagle eyes with you, you should be able to spot the Spartan just left of center facing you with the black "V" high on his chest. Other Spartans of note in this photo are the two at left including #21 and another just below the 'V Spartan' fully displaying the black pants and purple inserts (butt-stripes) down the backs of his legs. This was enough to construct the new 1930 Spartan image for GUD. A more pastel-shade of purple was needed to adequately represent the amount of contrast next to the 'black' seen in this photo. 


We were happy to add this image and everything was just 'peachy.' But didn't I mention that Portsmouth was purple and yellow? Well, for years now, we have been referring to this 1932 Spartan team photo. At that time, most team photos were taken during the preseason wearing the previous year's uniforms. Remember the 1934 team photo of the Pittsburgh Pirates (Steelers) wearing their 'bumble-bee/prison stripe' jerseys? Even the Steelers, themselves, assumed those were the de facto 1934 uniforms for that very reason despite the verified truth that they only appeared in a single 1933 game and not one game of the 1934 season.

1932 Portsmouth Spartans team photo
But 'YIKES!" how about those stripes? For the 1931-33 seasons, we had not come across a single photo of these striped jerseys being worn in a game. And seeing these striped jerseys next to the darker (obviously purple) jerseys, the assumption was made that these must be yellow jerseys. Were they practice jerseys? Possibly. Were they college jerseys retained by players from their alma mater? Not likely. So we continued our assumption that these yellow jerseys were simply for practice purposes. Ample contrast with purple would have helped for split-squad practices.

But then something happened. I noticed something in this photo.

11/1/31 - PORT @ NYG
Note the two yellow circles. The Giants never wore anything resembling these stripes so these players must be Spartans. In fact, you could make the argument that even the right arm of Spartan #10 (back to the camera) seems to indicate stripes, as well. Yet all other photos from this game show no stripes. Spartan players can be identified by having no numbers on their chest (the Giants did) and large numbers on their backs, much larger than those of the Giants.



But then I actually started to read the articles for this game. As you can see, some of the game was played in bright sunlight. However, near halftime, the skies opened and torrential rains hit the Polo Grounds for much of the second half. Jerseys would get wet. Jerseys would get caked with Polo Ground mud. Why not supply players that needed them most with a dry, second jersey to wear for the rest of the game? This would explain why some players may have the striped jerseys in that first photo and the rest do not.

One question still remained. Would it be acceptable for the Spartans to wear a mix of purple jerseys and yellow jerseys? We have evidence that the Brooklyn Dodgers of 1933 wore 3 different styles of red and white jerseys in a single game but those were at least the same color and still two years into the future.

No. Something else was going on here. Additionally, we know that the Spartans brought the striped jerseys from Ohio to New York. How, you ask? Spartan promotional photos were taken the day before the game inside the Polo Grounds.


So what's going on? The explanation is completely 'Occam's Razor.' The striped jerseys aren't yellow.

Remember those 1930 Spartan uniforms? Well, our own Larry Schmitt recently uncovered this photo of Spartan Glenn Presnell in 1930. It cinched for us that we had nailed the 1930 design (except for the fact that Presnell opted not to wear the black pants).


Soon after, there was an 'ah-ha' moment. Looking back at the team photo that included 7 players in striped jerseys, I noticed that another 9 players were wearing presumably a darker, more violet shade of purple on their newer 1931 jerseys. A violet purple shows darker on 1930s black-and-white photography in the same way that red and blue were dark and nearly indistinguishable from each other.  Even more attention-getting was the seventh player in the bottom row - Ray Davis. He appeared to be wearing the same 1930 jersey as shown in the Presnell photo and the photo from the 1930 Portsmouth/Green Bay game. More importantly, his jersey appears to be the exact same color as Maury Bodenger's striped jersey immediately to his left (camera's right). 

We had been wrong to assume that the striped jersey was yellow simply because we were told that team colors were purple and yellow and because it showed in the Polo Grounds practice promo photo as being lighter than the violet purple jersey. These striped jerseys were, in fact, the same lighter shade of purple as the 1930 jerseys.

This would better rationalize Portsmouth's use of the striped jerseys in the 1931 rain/mud game in New York. While they may not have been the same purple, at least they were purple - purple enough to contrast with the red and blue of the Giants without causing confusion.

The simplest explanation is usually the correct one. Occam's Razor.

We will continue seeking further proof, perhaps through a jersey auction one of the striped jerseys will appear and further confirm (or refute) our theory. But, after all, the original idea that the striped jersey was yellow was just a theory, as well. Now we have some better evidence and, hopefully, a better theory to work with until proven otherwise.


Bill Schaefer
Gridiron Uniform Database

When Is A Logo Not A Logo?

I'm going to start this entry with a shameless plug. Three weeks ago, I was tinkering with MS PAINT (GUD's graphics program of choice) and I figured out a way to create a metallic effect for helmets so that they didn't look like they were just grey or light brown. Since I had created the effect for the new 2019 Jets' metallic green helmets, I figured I could pull off the same treatment for other gold and silver metallic helmets. After much trial and error, I was even able to create a 'glitter' effect for teams that used helmet paint with all of those little, tiny sparkles in them that, well, 'sparkle' when the light hits just right. Every team requiring such details has been edited in such a way that I hope it more accurately displays the metallic appearance of those helmets that require it. Here is an example.

12/31/67 - HOU @ OAK
Notice how we can show the Oilers' metallic silver as having a bit of blue tint to them as opposed to the more pure silver of the Raiders' helmets. More importantly, we can make the Oilers' helmets look better than simply being solid grey as to which we were previously limited.

Why bring this up other than, as I said, to shamelessly plug the metallic helmet versions? Well, as in the case with so much around here, one thing usually leads us to something else entirely in a totally unintended circumstance. Case in point, while looking for color photos that would help me perform the above mentioned updates of metallic helmets, our Larry Schmitt noticed something that had gone unnoticed...a mystery number font worn by the Vikings in 1966-67 featuring extremely thin numbers that was inter-mixed with their normally worn number font.

10/30/66 - SF @ MINN
For comparison, here is Fran Tarkenton in a more customary Vikings' jersey that same season.

11/27/66 - GB @ MINN
To further demonstrate how things happen, Larry took it upon himself to investigate the surrounding years to see what other seasons in which this font may have appeared. While checking out 1969, easy to validate due to the "NFL 50" patches worn around the League, Larry spotted another unusual font.

11/9/69 - CLE @ MINN
This font stood out because whether Vikings were wearing their typical Pro-Block font or even the newly discovered 'skinny font,' having a sans serif font was unheard of. As it turns out, this new sans serif font was only worn by a small number of players during a limited few games late in the 1969 season.

But I do not want to distance myself too far from the original purpose here. Rounding up photos of every Vikings game from 1966-69 made me realize...the helmet logo we were using was completely inaccurate and unacceptable for our 'just get it right' mantra around these parts.  Here is the single-bar helmet we have been using to represent the first 6 seasons of Viking football.

Using this universally accepted logo that can be found nearly anywhere on the internet, this has been appearing as our 'go-to' helmet logo for the entirety of 1961-2006 for the Vikings. However, here is an actual photo from the team's first season.

11/19/61 - DET @ MINN (Getty)
Setting aside the obvious color discrepancy of the helmet shell (which has been adjusted for throughout their entire team history, as well), what else do your eyes notice about the comparison of the two logos? I notice the size of the horn at it's base. It is as large as the facial opening of Tarkenton's helmet. I notice the gold ring. The ring on the helmet goes from about 7 o'clock counter clock-wise up to about 1 o'clock. The digital logo we had been using goes from maybe 8 o'clock to 2 o'clock. Edits needed made. Additionally, look at the length of the horn. It is much larger and wraps completely around to the back of the helmet. This would make seeing the entire logo from a side view almost impossible. This also needed adjusted. So I went about making these changes - enlarging & elongating the horn and rotating the gold ring.

But then I came across this photo.

10/23/66 - MINN@ BALT (Getty)

Not only does it show the horns running all the way back to the center ridge of the helmet, but the top of the horn is nearly flat with very little curve upward. This is also, actually, the case in the 1961 photo above. The linemen have their heads facing at a down-angle. If we were to rotate their faces to a horizontal plane, these horns would also appear just as flat as in the above 1966 photo, allowing for the rear curvature of the helmets. 


So after first adjusting about 20 years-worth of helmet logos, I set about re-working them all with this new, additional refinement - essentially doubling my workload. But as I proceeded through, I began to wonder...if the horns are nearly flat on the helmet, why do all of the available graphics show an up-turned tip of the horn?

The answer would arrive in 1976. First, a view of 1975 still showing the nearly-flat helmet horn.

12/28/75 - DAL @ MINN (Getty)
Now take a look at 1976. Note the up-turn of Tarkenton's horn tip. This is a wonderful photo because it also displays the back of Chuck Foreman's helmet showing not only the up-turned horn tips but also the fact that the horns have been shortened a bit and no longer extend all of the way to the center ridge line of the helmet.

12/11/76 - MINN @ MIA (Getty)
Here is the upward turn in 1977.

9/18/77 - DAL @ MINN (Getty)

This would become the version of the horn that would be used up through the completion of the 2005 season.

There is one other tidbit related to this Vikings' crisis. Between 2007 and 2011, after redesigning their entire uniform in 2006, the Vikings wore throwback uniforms for select games those seasons. Apparently honoring the past, the horns for 2007 mimicked, in smaller form, the original, flatter version of the horns. However, in 2008, the up-turned version of the horn was utilized. The Vikings returned to the flattened version for each season between 2009 and 2011.


So I broach the question again. When is a logo not a logo?

The Chiefs can answer this. Their helmet logo has lower tip of the "C" angled while all of their commercial and merchandising logos have a horizontally-flattened end on the "C."


The Chargers can answer this. Their commercial and merchandising logo has always been much stouter than the bolts that actually adorned their helmets for most of their 60-plus seasons.

Now the Vikings' 'stubby horn' can be added to this infamous list of inadequacy.



Bill Schaefer

* Note - A few photos have turned up alerting us tho the fact that 1975 was a mixture of both the flattened horn and the upturned horn. Gifs have since been created for 1975 reflecting the fact that the 2 helmet logos were both being worn throughout the season. - B.S. 6/20/20













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