Don't Move My Number

     Today here at The Gridiron Uniform Database we have a few new changes to update, as well a discussion about the proper placement of Steelers' shoulder numbers, or as they have also been called, "TV numbers".

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     In the late 1950s and early 1960s, when NFL games were first being televised regularly, teams added numbers to the sleeves, to help the viewers at home identify players when they were at the line of scrimmage or the front or back numbers were otherwise un-viewable.

     Most teams that have these shoulder numbers have traditionally placed them either way up high, on top of the shoulder (like these in the Terrell Owens pictures), or down low on the sleeve, like the Colts do in this picture of Peyton Manning.  So that is how we have depicted these numbers, either on top of the shoulder, or down on the sleeve.

     It has come to our attention, however, that the Pittsburgh Steelers' 1968-96 uniforms (along with apparently some years of the St. Louis Cardinals) employ a third option, which places the numbers somewhere in between, right around the apex of the shoulder.

     While we had considered this before, in the words of our graphical engineer, Bill Schaefer:

"...if we put the numbers 'right there,' there'd be no way to make them look right. One of the limitations of the 2-D template is, along with the omission of helmet numbers, that TV numbers MUST be placed on the shoulder pads facing up or on the sleeves. I was never able to crack 'wrapping the one' from the top down around to the side and make it worth it."

     Numbers in this location, even more so than in the higher or lower locations, don't always appear in the same place on all players:

     Says Bill: "...Franco's numbers are clearly facing up on his shoulder pads. If Swanny or Terry had any kind of shoulders, their's would likely be facing upwards, too."

     So for the time being, that project was shelved, and we were content to just depict the numbers on the top of the shoulders (right), after we were unable to find a suitable location to more accurately depict them.  But with some help from The Jeff in the forum, we have decided to take another shot at this.  Here are six options that Bill and the guys have come up with as to how we could depict these numbers better.  Your input and feedback in the comments below will be most welcome.

Which graphical Steelers sleeve number representation do you like best?


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     We have added to the database the memorial arm sleeve that the Chicago Bears wore for their December 23, 1979 NFC Wild Card playoff game at Philadelphia in memory of George "Mugs" Halas, Jr., who died of a "massive heart attack."  Halas was the team president and the son of Bears' founder George "Papa Bear" Halas.   Another change we have made is to the 1961 Giants, we have removed the white center stripe on two red-striped pants model and replaced them with the matching grey on all eight versions of the '61 Giants.
     Finally, with the 1968 and '69 Vikings, we have made some adjustments to the uniform numeral, and the proper depiction of the "one".  Thanks to bigbluelarry (Giants) and Mako Mameli (Vikings) for these submissions.
1979 Chicago Bears
1961 New York Giants
1968 Minnesota Vikings

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     Tomorrow we'll mark one week since we've launched the website, and we'll tell you all about some of the most surprising websites that have referred traffic to us, including one website that isn't even in English.  And beginning Monday, we'll start a five-part series looking back and discussing the past uniforms the Buffalo Bills have worn, as they get ready to launch their new look on Friday.

Fly Like An Eagle

     Today Uni Watch and Gridiron Uniform Database historian Tim Brulia brings us his long awaited research on the 1941 Philadelphia Eagles colors.  Previously we told you about a possibility that the Eagles wore silver-and-black and not their familiar green that year.  Well Tim has followed up on that possibility and brings us his research now:

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     In my years of researching these things, one of the "white whales" was the supposed truth that the Philadelphia Eagles in their long ago days wore black and silver. Well before the Oakland Raiders ever existed and made those colors famous.
Art Rooney
     When I began more original research of the Eagles, I encountered what appeared to be very dark jersey colors from about 1936 through 1940. Though the helmets and pants were white, I had assumed that these were the black and silver/white years. In fact, when I originally sent the descriptive database of all NFL uniforms to Paul Lukas at Uni Watch a couple of years ago, this color combo is what I used for Philly for these years. However, a rescrub of the Philadelphia newspapers, in particular the Inquirer, and a deeper perusal of the game reports revealed that the Birds were wearing green jerseys and not black for the 1936-40 era.
Thompson wasn't above trying new
things to find talent for his Eagles
(Vancouver Sun, 8/2/1941) 
     After the 1940 season, the Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers engaged in a very bizarre ownership swap. Art Rooney sold his Steelers to a youthful New York City millionaire, Alexis (Lex) Thompson. Rooney then bought his way into half of the Eagles from Bert Bell. Thompson actually renamed the Steelers the Ironmen. But very shortly afterward, Both Thompson and Rooney had buyer's remorse and wanted out. So, the three men agreed to re-swap their teams. Rooney was back in Pittsburgh with partner and pal Bell, and Thompson was much closer to his beloved Big Apple with the Eagles. Rooney quickly returned the Steelers name to the Pittsburgh pro club.  You can read more about this whole transaction here.
We think of Art Rooney as the Steelers'
founder that he was, but his ties to the
Eagles were not forgotten.  When he died
in 1988, the Eagles honored him with
a helmet decal memorial.
     Back to the uniforms. The two Keystone NFL teams would break out totally new uniforms replete with new color schemes. The Steelers, stunningly, would break out green jerseys in their third game of the season, at home against the New York Giants. In fact, the Steelers of 1941 bore such a striking resemblance to the 1940 Eagles that they brought back their yellow pants that they wore early in the season to replace the white pants. Meanwhile, the Eagles broke a rather wild looking (for 1941 anyway) outfit with a two-color helmet, light and dark jerseys both with contrasting side and sleeve panels, very dark pants and socks that matched the colors of the jerseys. I had assumed that the Eagles stayed with the green from 1940 and simply added silver as a trim color.
     Then, just a few months ago, I discovered a lead that I had to pursue. Heritage Sports Art, formerly Maple Leaf Productions, began to sell off the original artwork of the well-known evolutionary uniform murals that they did for so many pro and college sports teams. Just as happenstance, I thought I'd take a peek at the Eagles artwork. And honing in on the Eagles 1941 get-up, I saw the description of that uni, which said, "This jersey isn't quite as flashy as the 1934 jersey we see on this poster. The colors have changed to black and grey, and not only on the jersey, but the helmet as well."
     Woo-Hoo!! Now, can I confirm this claim?? I had to! So, in recent journeys to the Pennsylvania State Library, a rather old-fashioned ediface in Harrisburg (left), I took the task of digging through reels of microfilm of the Inquirer, from the time Lex Thompson bought the team in April till at least the early season. Alas, the search was futile. I found, apart from the paper reporting a total top to bottom overhaul, including the possible change of the team name (which never happened) to a near completely new player roster, nothing on the uniforms. Philly had at least two other papers in '41, the Bulletin and the Record. I decided to check out the Record, which closed shop in 1946. Also starting in April, I found little until PAYDIRT in a small article in the August 16th issue of the Record. The article had no writer credit, but a "Special to the RECORD" byline. The dateline was from Two Rivers, Wisconsin, when the Eagles held training camp that year. In the third paragraph came the confirmation: "Lending truth to the old bromide about fine feathers making fine birds, the Eagles appeared in their new regalia for the first time Tuesday This year's edition of the Quakers will feature black silk pants with silver stripes, gray jerseys with midnight blue numerals, black and silver helmets, and gray stockings with blue stripes."
   Coupled with the fact that Eagles also wore dark jerseys and socks with identical markings of the gray counterparts, they also wore midnight blue jerseys and socks with the silver/gray trim. The change has been made to the 1941 Eagles entry in the Gridiron Uniform Database.
   Meanwhile, this also necessitated a change to the Steelers 1941 entry. Why? Well, based on a photo that appeared in the November 10, 1941 issue of the Inquirer, I had thought the Steelers broke out their old black jerseys for an 11/9 game in Shibe Park with what I had assumed were the green clad Eagles. The actual colors would be the dark blue jerseyed Eagles against the green Steelers. Meaning that the Steelers never wore the famed black jerseys at all in 1941! Thus Bill has dropped the black jersey combo from the Steelers 1941 display.
   The legendary Art Rooney quote from 1941, "New team, new coach, new uniforms, but the same old Steelers!" most certainly was based on the Irish green-jerseyed Steelers.  Both teams would return to their more familiar hues in 1942.
   This "white whale" has now been harpooned.

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     Well, that research certainly gives us a better look into what these two teams wore in 1941 and answers the question about the Eagles in particular.

     Speaking of colors that teams have worn, I have received some feedback from comments I made yesterday about the color yellow.  Calling yellow gold did not originate with the Packers and Steelers fans of the 1960s and 1970s as I may have alluded to.  As was pointed out me, medieval tinctures (colors) of the European nobility used "Or" -- a yellow-hued color to represent gold. That is, even way back then they called the color yellow gold (my guess is for the same reasons that I said the Packers and Steelers did, became the name yellow has a negative connotation.)  I was in err to suggest that this all began recently.
     But I stand by my stance that yellow is yellow and gold is gold.  The St. Louis Rams may have changed their colors not from yellow to gold, but from "gold" to "metallic gold."  As I said you can call it whatever you want to call it.  And if the Steelers and Packers fans want to call yellow gold, they will continue to do so, I can't change that.  That's fine, we're not going to be able to stop them.  But, like I said, you can call anything by any name you want to call it.
     Packers fans, then, can call themselves the green-and-gold, and steelers are black-and-gold, that's fine, but then remember, Notre Dame would not be the blue-and-gold anymore, but rather the blue and metallic-gold.  But wouldn't it be easier just to call yellow yellow and gold gold?
     At any rate, I appreciate the feedback very much, and let's keep this discussion going.

The Packers in 1952 wearing yellow jerseys with green numbers and gold helmets against the Detroit Lions
(See, the Packers do did wear gold -- or is that bronze?!)

Big Yellow Taxi, not Big Gold Taxi

     Well, continuing where we left off yesterday, we have another slew of changes to the database to bring you, so let's get started right away.
     From Jay Braiman, we have updated the New York Jets' 1978 uniforms to show that they wore their new green helmets for two games in the preseason with the 1977 uniform tops.  We've also done a minor update to the 1986 Browns, confirming that they only wore the brown tops specifically in the preseason.  Our own Bill Schaefer spotted this while watching their team yearbook video on NFL Network yesterday afternoon.

     Following up on a discussion we had in the forum, we have changed the stripe pattern that the 1964 Vikings had on the purple pants they wore from 1962 through 1964.  The Vikings switched to wearing white tops at home in 1964 and you may remember a story on Uni Watch where the Lions forgot to bring their colored jerseys, so the Vikings had to the switch to all-purple after the first quarter.  While it's near impossible to tell from that screen grab what the pattern of the stripes was, other pictures confirmed that in 1964 only the pants stripes changed to a white-yellow-white pattern, the reverse of the yellow-white-yellow used in 1962 and 1963, as far as we can tell.  After the 1964 season, the Vikings did not wear purple pants again until their 2006 redesign.  Special thanks to smith03 who started the thread and to Mako, who brought us confirming photographs.

"Don't call us 'yella', we
ain't yella', we's gold!"
       This reminds us of a particular issue that has been discussed around The Gridiron Uniform Database watercooler recently, and that is the color yellow.  Some people call this gold.  Gold is what the 49ers, Saints and 21st century Rams wear, yellow is what the Steelers, Packers and 20th century Rams wear.  The Vikings trim is yellow, not gold.  Gold is gold.  When referring to the 49ers' gold we shouldn't have to call it "gold" gold, to differentiate it from "yellow" gold.  I'm guessing this particular trend started in the 1960s (Packers) and 1970s (Steelers) when the particularly vociferous fan bases of those championship teams didn't like being called "yellow" because that color is synonymous with being afraid.    You can call gold yellow, you can call a brown horse blue, and you can call the Miami Heat champions, but merely saying it doesn't make it so.

     The 1980-84 New York Giants have gone through a few changes thanks to the first of what I'm sure will be many submissions by bigbluelarry.  We added blue belts, widened the torso numbers on both jerseys, we changed the numbers on the white jerseys to a different shade of blue, more of a royal blue, not the same darker blue as on the other jerseys or helmet.  And we also adjusted the color of the socks for both uniform combinations, they too are the royal, and not the darker blue.  Compare the previous 1982 Giants here, with the image pictured to the right.

Is that a white collar or an undershirt?
     Two other guys who also look to be on their way to becoming valuable contributors for their teams are Cowboys' contributor slats7 and Broncos' contributor WD1983. For the 1979-80 Cowboys, we have added white collars to their blue jerseys, and for the 1981 Cowboys, we have added the new blue jersey they added during that season.
      For the Broncos, we have a variety of changes for the 1965 to 1968 period.  For '65-66 we changed the collars to a different color than the jersey was, for '66 we changed the helmet logo, we changed the 1967 regular season pants to blue-orange-blue striping of equal width, and for 1968 we have added an orange jersey/white pants combo which used the 1967 blue-orange-blue striping on the pants, and we also adjusted the orange-blue-orange pant stripes to also be of equal widths.  We have many more Cowboys' and Broncos' changes from these two contributors that are still under consideration, and I'm sure we'll hear from these two again.  Remember all submissions in the forum are constantly and continuously under review to insure that we maintain the most accurate database possible.

1978 New York Jets
1986 Cleveland Browns
1964 Minnesota Vikings
1980-84 New York Giants
1981 Dallas Cowboys
1966 Denver Broncos
1968 Denver Broncos
1994 Denver Broncos
1973 Miami Dolphins
2005 Arizona Cardinals
     Speaking of the Broncos, we have another change we have confirmed.  As we told you yesterday, we were looking at the throwback jerseys the Broncos wore in 1994 for the NFL's 75th anniversary celebrations.  While there are many pictures of the home orange throwback jersey they wore on 9/18/94 against the Raiders, there are surprisingly few images available of the following Monday Night game at Buffalo when they wore the white road throwbacks.  In the database we originally had blue sleeves on these jerseys, and I don't know if this was just an educated guess in the absence of any real proof, i.e. the home throwbacks were orange with the blue sleeves, so therefore we'll assume that the road throwbacks were white with blue sleeves.
     We have no problem with using this type of logic, if you have no proof of anything, you go with your best educated guess.  As it turns our we were able to locate proof that the throwback sleeves were orange.  While the video of that game was unavailable to us, I did remember that the Broncos played on Monday Night Football again later that season, in a particularly memorable game against the Chiefs -- the famed Elway vs. Montana matchup -- and this footage was available to us.  Monday Night Football tends to use footage from previous games in the opening montage, and more often than not they'll use previous MNF footage when it's available to them, and sure enough, when Hank Jr. started singing, there was the Broncos road throwbacks in the background.  Additional screenshots here in the forum. WD1983 also supplied us with an image from that game on a 1995 football card (left).

     Another Dolphins' change comes to us courtesy of dirwulf, and that is a Chicago Tribune newspaper image (right) he has found of a 1973 Dolphins' player, Lloyd Mumphord, wearing a stripeless jersey during the preseason.  In this you can see he is clearly wearing the "dolphin-in-the-sun" helmet variation that we discussed yesterday.  As we told you, sometimes the Dolphins wore differing helmets in the same game, but with no specific proof that any Dolphins wore the other helmet variation in this game, we'll stick with just this helmet-jersey combination for now, although it is probably reasonable to assume that there very well may have been Dolphins in that game with the "dolphins-across-the-sun" helmet variation.  Dirwulf also tell us in the forum that RB Norm Bulaich (left, pictured in 1978) continued to wear the "in-the-sun" variation, possibly as late as 1979.

     One final change was submitted to us by andrewharrington, and that was the name lettering on the 2005 Arizona Cardinals jersey backs did not have an outline around the letters as they did beginning in 2006.  In 2005, they were simply white.

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     Which brings us to one important change, beginning tomorrow in an effort to bring a professional journalistic atmosphere to this "blog", we will only be attributing credit for submissions to people with proper names.  If you want to continue posting with a handle in the forum that is fine, however, you'll notice that timmyb in the forum is referred to as Tim Brulia here in the blog, and accordingly we will only be referring to "real people" here in the future.  So Andrew Harrington (or is it Andre Wharrington?!) and Jay Braiman will be mentioned here in the blog when they give us further contributions, but names like Dirwulf, WD1983, bigbluelarry, and slats7, will no longer meet the naming conventions of this enterprise.  We, of course, will continue to accept your contributions, however, please understand that if you retain the anonymity of a forum handle, we will be unable to give you proper credit here in the blog, unless you submit your real name along with it.

     On a related issue, forum PMs and emails are fine if you want to wish us a happy birthday, but if you have any questions related to football uniforms, or the site or anything of that nature, we ask that you use the preferred method of getting in touch with us by posting it in the forum.  That way others can see the contributions and comment on and discuss them, and if it is a simple question like, "How come you only depict the number 11?" or "Why don't you do the pre-1933 uniforms before doing the head-to-head matchups?" or "Are you guys stupid, don't you know that [insert team]'s helmet was [such-and-such color] during [such-and-such season]?"  I'm sure others will appreciate your question and the resultant answers.

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     Tomorrow, Tim Brulia will be bringing us some long awaited research on the 1941 Philadelphia Eagles' colors that I know everyone is dying to hear about!  So be sure to join us Friday for that and keep those submissions and corrections coming in the forum!

Ch- Ch- Changes

     With all of the traffic we have received in the last few days, we had numerous updates and changes submitted by many visitors to the site, however, due to some technical difficulties, we have been unable to update them in the last day or two, so today we will devote the entire column to these changes. I've gotten some comments and e-mails that you all seemed to like the 'Mr. Wizard' theme video embed with Bill's column Monday, so I'm going to make embedding a youtube video a regular feature here at the website.  I'm not a big David Bowie fan, but I do have this song running through my head right now, and since we have so many "ch-ch-changes" to update, it seems apropos.

     With all of these changes today, we'll dispense with showing both 'before' and 'after' images, however we are working on a way of displaying the progression of previous database images which will give credit to the submitter for the change.      We'll start off with the 1948 New York Giants, thanks to bigbluelarry, who alerted us to some Charles Connerly pictures that showed a different helmet pattern than what we had.
     Another change that we made came to us from Dante X, who informed us that the 1993 New England Patriots -- the first year of the blue uniforms, when they wore numbers like this -- actually had gray facemasks.  I wonder if Dante is this guy, who was a coach on that team?  Probably not.

     After much debate we have decided to change the brown of the supposedly brown horse on the controversial early-season 1962 Broncos helmet.  This is not to say we endorse or don't endorse any particular theories about the said color of the horse, however, at this time, we have agreed it is probably more purplish-brown than just straight brown. Also a slight change in the angle of orientation of the horse from the previous image.  I'm sure this debate will continue.

     Speaking of the Broncos, we have a slew of changes thanks to anyonebutdetroit.  After looking at his submissions, the 1989-93 Broncos now have three stripes instead of five stripes on the sleeves, the nameplate has been changed for the 1994 to 96 uniforms, and we have added the monochrome blue look the Broncos wore in the 1997 preseason.  An additional change will be coming tomorrow as we have confirmed a mistake we had with their 1994 road throwback uniforms.
     We have changed the stripe pattern on the Philadelphia Eagles 1974 to 1984 uniform pants, it's wasn't much of a difference, but a small detail change none-the-less.  The image to the right is the new stripe pattern, there is now more silver showing between the green stripes and the white stripe in the middle.

     The Miami Dolphins franchise has had a few changes, for the 1973 image we have eliminated some of the combinations of the helmet and sock variations.  Compare this with the updated image to the right, and for the 1969 season, we also have some changes with the sock patterns.  As many of you know, the Dolphins in their early years have been very inconsistent with the uniforms.  They had two different helmets, one with the dolphin all the way across the sun, and another with the head of the dolphin inside the sun.  At times players have even worn different versions in the same game!

All these Dolphins changes come with thanks to dirwulf.

     Finally, a picture (right) surfacing from a 1969 preseason game between the Saints and the Lions has yielded a few changes.  This picture was seen at Chris Creamer's forum, and in it we can see that the Lions wore stripe-less jerseys, and the Saints debuted their 1970 nameplate-less jerseys.  Previously, we did not have the Saints' combo of wearing the white jerseys either with the black numbers in 1969, or with the preseason black helmet.  Isn't that Saints' black helmet cool?

1948 New York Giants
1993 New England Patriots
1962 Denver Broncos
1992 Denver Broncos
1997 Denver Broncos
1974-84 Philadelphia Eagles
1973 Miami Dolphins
1969 Miami Dolphins
1969 New Orleans Saints
1969 Detroit Lions
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     Well, there you have it. Thanks to all those who have helped make this database that much better by offering corrections.  Keep them coming!  Tommorow we'll bring you that Broncos throwback change we mentioned, plus updates to the New York Giants and to a stripe pattern of the Minnesota Vikings for a year in the mid-1960's. Join our forum and you too can be part of the debate.


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