Welcome To The Gridiron Uniform Database

     Welcome to The Gridiron Uniform Database.  Here you'll find graphical representations of every uniform worn in the NFL (and AFL and AAFC) since 1933.   Our website is inspired by sites such as Dressed To The Nines, the definitive source for MLB baseball uniforms since 1901, and by our predecessor Craig Wheeler's site, Football Uniforms Past and Present.  We hope that we can provide a vital reference tool for anyone interested in "looking up" what NFL teams of the past wore.  Whether you are a fan or a researcher, whether you are trying to figure out what team is in an old photograph, or you just want to "browse around", we hope you will find our website useful.
     Today is our official "launch" of the website.  We welcome all of you who have come from Uni Watch to check us out.  Special thanks to Phil Hecken at Uni Watch for promoting our website today.
     To find out more about this site, read the past blog entries, join our forum and, most importantly, browse the images on our site by clicking either the 'years to the left' or the 'teams to the right.'
     I hope you enjoy your visit to the site and hope you will come back many times.

~ ~ ~

     Today for our blog entry I want to present a image I came across on the internet.  This picture is displayed on an auction website as an authentic Jim Otto Game Worn 1960 jersey.  It is described as such:

1960 Jim Otto Game Worn Oakland Raiders Rookie Jersey, Inaugural AFL Season! Though the Hall of Fame center is best remembered for the double-zeroes on his jersey, an odd number purportedly allowed by AFL brass due to the pun on his name (aught-oh), the more advanced AFL historian will recall that the University of Miami standout made his professional debut as number "50," digits worn only during that historic rookie season. And even the most casual fan knows that Otto's 1960 rookie season was likewise the debut of the American Football League and the Oakland Raiders franchise he would come to epitomize during fifteen seasons of faithful service. Inclusive of post-season play, Otto started 223 consecutive games over his decade and a half in the Bay area, second of all time for the center position.

The yellow detailing we encounter here has long since given way to silver in Raiders fashion, but it's interesting to note it was actually the Chicago Bears and Navy that inspired the presented look, as original coach Eddie Erdelatz had coached Navy and the Bears' rival San Francisco 49ers, and utilized Bears and Midshipmen manufacturer "King O'Shea" to produce Raiders uniforms. The company's tagging is located in lower left rear interior tail, denoting "Long, 48, King O'Shea." Number "50" is applied to chest, shoulders and verso in black and yellow tackle twill while a 1.75" block lettered "Jim Otto" is applied directly to the jersey body at upper shoulders.

Wear is very heavy, certainly due in significant degree to secondary practice use after that debut AFL season. Massive team repairs abound, and the black dye of the tackle twill has faded from sweat and multiple washings. But football players aren't supposed to be pretty, and neither are their jerseys. As a symbol of one of the game's most durable trench warriors, the look couldn't be more appropriate. Along with the Biletnikoff gamer likewise presented within this auction, the jersey was sourced from the Raiders' first equipment manager, and will be accompanied by his letter of provenance. This is the only known Otto rookie and, in fact, the only known surviving jersey from the Raiders' inaugural season. LOA from Heritage Auctions. Letter of provenance from Raiders equipment manager.
 Now this image is a good example of how hard it is to determine what many of these actual jerseys looked like.  First of all how faded are the colors of the jersey?  Fifty years ago, this jersey was probably much whiter.  It says in the description it has faded and suffered heavy wear.  But how do we depict this in the database?  Do we go with a pure white jersey with black numbers, or do we accurately depict the colors that are displayed in this, the only existing jersey, and considering we don't have a whole ton of color images from 1960 (this becomes exponentially more of an issue the further back we go -- images from the 1930s and 40s are many times just as much "educated guesses" as they are truly factually based.)

     Here is a mock-up of a graphic from our database.  On the right is the actual 1960 Oakland Raider database image made by our database graphical artist Bill Schaefer.  On the left is a mock-up I did of what the image would look like if we purely went based on this jersey.  Nowhere have we seen any description of "beige" and "sand" colors in their team information.  As far as we know, their colors that year were white, black and gold.  So do we go by the facts, or do we go by what we see?  Do we attribute the Jim Otto jersey discoloration to wear and tear and aging, or do we adjust our database simply because of the color of one existing piece of memorabilia.  (There are more pictures from this auction here.)  These are the questions we face at The Gridiron Uniform Database.

     Here is a picture of the 1960 Raiders in their dark uniforms against Denver. What shade of "black" or "dark gray" are the uniforms here?  Prior to the mid-1960s we are almost exclusively dealing with black and white photographs (and when using newspaper images, even newer pictures are mostly black-and-white.)  So this website is more often than not as much art as it is science.
     Even color photographs can lie.  Look at this 1967 picture (right) of George Blanda kicking a field goal in the AFL Championship against the Houston Oilers to send the Raiders to Super Bowl II.  Look at the shade of blue, which here appears almost green, on the oncoming Houston defender's jersey, and compare it with the shade in the database image of the 1967 Oilers. (left)
    Now compare that with another image (below) from the same game.  These are all the same shade of blue.  Do we go by the actual blue that accepted media all says the oilers wore?  Or do we alter our database simply because of one image?  Lighting, film, exposure, there are a million things that can affect the hue of colors in photographs.  You can't always judge a color based purely on one image or photograph.
     Such is the dilemma at The Gridiron Uniform Database.  We hope you enjoy your stay here.

Are these all the same color?  No?


  1. The Raiders-Broncos photo depicts one of the few Raiders home games at Candlestick Park. You can see the supports for the big scoreboard beyond the right field fence. (All through the '60s, Candlestick had few to zero seats in right field.)

    That is the dilemma of the uniform historian: Interpreting black-and-white photos for uniform colors.

    As with the Uni Watch blog, this blog reminds me of the time when I thought I was the only one who was interested in uniforms. I'm happy to find out I was wrong!

  2. Came here via UW. This is one great blogspot . . . I already have it added to my blogger sidebar. This is going to be one I spend a lot of time reading.

  3. Appreciate it, Nik!

    Tom, when doing this sort of thing, everything has to be taken into account!

  4. It certainly does, Timmy. And as Rob pointed out, color photos can also mislead.

  5. just want to say "congrats" to bill, tim & rob for getting this off the ground!

    great stuff guys

  6. Thanks, Phil. You must share in the celebration as if it weren't for you, we really wouldn't be here right now!!

  7. Awesome work fellas. I've been anticipating this site for a long time. knocked it out of the park.

    Nick Wollen

  8. Great Job! I have an alteration to your database: The names on the back of the Chiefs jerseys did not contain a gold outline until 1972.




Blog Archive