Bills Unveil Their New Uniforms

     Today Uni Watch and Gridiron Uniform Database historian Tim Brulia brings us his weekly column with a look at the new uniforms the Buffalo Bills unveiled last night:

~ ~ ~

     I'm not normally one who praises or criticizes a team's unifoms. They are what they are and I usually pass judgement on them as they are a sign of the times. So, with that in mind, I will take a deeper look into the NFL's first overhaul of a uniform since the 2009 Lions.

     The Bills have changed everything except the cleats, which remain black.

     The helmet: The red shell is gone for the first time since 1983. The helmet returns to the white that was worn from 1962-1983. The charging blue buffalo with the red side streak (or as the press release calls it, a "red speed stripe") remains. The helmet stripes are blue/red/blue, with a razor thin navy blue between the red and blue stripes. Per the press release, the stripes will widen from the front to the back of the helmet. The face masks (re)turn from white to gray, following what seems to be a recent trend. The Bills website also says that the white helmet will have a special metallic flaking painted into the helmet to make the white "pop" in the direct sunlight or for a night game. Opinion? While I personally am not a fan of white helmets in general, this is OK as it will allow the logo to stand out, but it will also eliminate the convoluted stripe combo of the 2002-2010 helmet.

     The jerseys: The oddball jerseys of 2002-2010, which did everything but identify the team wearing them, have been ditched. In their place is a uniform that does hearken back to the early 1990's glory days. We'll start with the dark jerseys. A welcome change is a return to the royal blue after the odd - but then trendy - move to navy in 2002. The collar is a tri-color of navy/red/white. The numbers are standard block white with a double outline of red and then a razor thin navy. The TV numbers are on the shoulders and do not have the navy outline. The "sleeve" stripes are two white stripes with the same outline pattern as on the body numerals. The NOB's are the standard sans serif non-outlined white. Additionally, there are two team ID elements on the jersey; the "BILLS" wordmark below the neck and, following the Cardinals and Vikings lead, the right side Bills logo on the nape of the neck on the back, above the NOB. Opinion? This is a massive improvement on the previous set and is unmistakably Buffalo.

     The white jersey ditches the blue shoulder yoke of 02-10 lore and also hints of the glory years of the early 90's with a few twists found on the new blues. The white also has a tricolor collar with a red/navy/blue combo. The numbers (front, back and shoulders) are blue with a double outline of red and razor thin navy. The double sleeve stripes are blue with feather outlines of navy, then red. The NOB is a striaght sans serfied blue. The whiye jersey also features Bills ID's, with a blue "BILLS" wordmark on the front and the charging buffalo on the back of the neck above the NOB. Opinion? Like the blue jersey, a nice look returns to the Bills.

     The pants: If all is true with the unveiling, the Bills will only have a white pair of pants starting in 2011. While not getting a really good look at the trousers, it does appear that they will be white with side stripes of blue/red/blue. There is one major addition to the pants, the logo will appear on both hips, with a charging right buffalo on the right hip and a charging left buffalo on the left hip (requiring an L and an R detail from Bill!). Rather mundane, but a good fit with either jersey. Opinion? I happen to like dark pants as a nice compliment with either a white or dark jersey, but with a sorta retro look, I have no real problem with just the white set.

     The socks: Again, not getting a great look, but one nice item on the blue socks is that there will actually be stripes on the socks! The stripe pattern will be the same as on the sleeve stripes on the blue jerseys. There will also be white socks worn with the white jerseys. The stripes appear to have the pattern as the blue socks, with additional blue outlines. Opinion? Nothing to say for the white socks, but it is a nice touch to see stripes on the dark socks, becoming only the third team (Chicago, Kansas City) in the NFL with striped dark socks.

     To sum up, I do like the retro feel of the unis, with modern elements complimenting and not taking from the new look.    

~ ~ ~

     For further analysis of the Bills' new threads, check out Phil Hecken's column today at Uni Watch.  Tomorrow I'll be back with a discussion of white-on-white in the NFL and why the Bills felt the need to omit the blue pants from the new ensemble.

History of the Buffalo Bills Uniforms Part V

     Today we are wrapping up our week-long look at the Buffalo Bills' past uniforms.  As you no doubt have heard by now, the Bills will be unveiling their new 2011 uniforms tonight.  Tomorrow at The Gridiron Uniform Database, we will be discussing the new uniforms and what we think of them.

~ ~ ~

     In 2002, the Bills changed their uniforms to a style that has been, to say the least, criticized roundly by fans, media and critics alike.  The new-look was a non-traditional look for the NFL, with the multi-colored panels and monochrome blue home unis.  The style was reminiscent of something you might see in the CFL -- which I guess is kind of ironic, considering the Bills have begun playing one game a year in Toronto in the last few years.

     The Bills never made the postseason wearing these uniforms -- their best season was a 9-7 mark in 2004, and overall they have gone 59-85 in these unis.

     So many will say good riddance to these "athletic aesthetic eyesores" as they bid adieu with tonight's unveiling.  Yesterday's poll showed that many of you agree with us that the 1962-73 and 1974-83 uniforms were the best -- over 80% of you voted for those two of the five.  Only one person voted for these most recent uniforms, and who knows, he was probably either under the age of thirty, or drunk, or both.

Mock-Up 1
Mock-up 2
     What will the new uniforms look like?  Well, thanks to a leaked Madden '11 game image and the internet, we seem to have a good handle on what is to come tonight.  Based on this image to the right, people have made mock-ups of what the new uniform will probably look like, but who knows maybe knowing that the Madden image would get leaked, they put out a red herring to put us on the wrong track.  At any rate, if the leaked images are correct, it looks like a return to the 1970s unis, with the white charging buffalo helmet and the blue pants.  They could do a lot worse than that.

Bills' current ('02-'10)
Monochromatic blue
"What-If" 1984

"What-If 1973"

     Well, we can't be for sure what will be unveiled until we see it, but we wouldn't be disappointed to see this uniform or maybe even something a little more outlandish -- our Bill Schaefer made a couple "what-ifs" based on if older Bills uniforms had tried to incorporate the monochromatic blue look that the '02-'10 uniforms used, but in the style of the older unis.  At any rate, I do hope the new unis pair the white home tops with the royal blue pants, like they wore through 1982, and get rid of the navy entirely.  Buffalo Bills' blue isn't a navy blue, it's a royal blue.

~ ~ ~

     So all eyes tonight will be on the Bills' unveiling and stay tuned here at The Gridiron Uniform Database where tomorrow our resident historian Tim Brulia will give his take on the new Buffalo duds, and in the coming days we'll be launching a couple contests here where you can win big!

That's a non sequitur
     On-going debate about future database changes is continuing in our forum, and as always, you're invited to participate.  Have any ideas or suggestions for future blog topics?   Drop us a note in the comments section below.

     In the mean time, I'm building a deck.

History of the Buffalo Bills Uniforms Part IV

     Today at The Gridiron Uniform Database we are looking at the Bills' 1984-2001 uniforms, as we continue our week-long look back at Buffalo's uniforms through the years.  They will be unveiling their new 2011 uniforms tomorrow night.

~ ~ ~

Jim Kelly quarterbacked the Bills
from 1986 to 1996 and led them to
four straight Super Bowls
     After the 1983 season, the Bills made a slight change, they adopted the red helmet that they pretty much still wear today.  Except for the Jets, who changed their helmet from white to green in 1978, the entire AFC East had white helmets, and one of the reasons they gave for making this change was perhaps QBs wouldn't throw as many interceptions if both the receivers and the defenders didn't have the same color helmets as often.

Scott Norwood's miss at the
end of Super Bowl XXV
was the first of four straight
disappointments for Buffalo
     Not much else changed with the Bills uniform over the next two decades, but the team improved drastically on the field.  After consecutive two-win seasons in the mid-80's, they hired Marv Levy as coach and with quarterback Jim Kelly and other stars such as Andre Reed, Darryl Talley and Thurman Thomas, they would build the team into an AFC dynasty that would win four straight conference championships from 1990 to 1993.  They would fail to capture the ultimate prize, however, losing four consecutive Super Bowls.

     They only wore white pants in this era, and the simplicity of the blue and white and red-trim color scheme would be missed in 2002 when the Bills adopted the current style, which we will look at tomorrow.

     Which brings us to our latest poll question:  When the Bills unveil their uniform tomorrow night, which of the five previous styles do you prefer they look the most like?

Which Bills' uniform do you like best?


~ ~ ~

     Well, we dilly-dallied around all morning, so no database updates for today, but there's always tomorrow.

     There's lots of exciting debates going on in the forum regarding the Giants and Broncos, so why don't you join in on the discussion!

History of the Buffalo Bills Uniforms Part III

     Here at The Gridiron Uniform Database we are continuing our week-long look back at the uniforms of the Buffalo Bills, today looking at the 1974-83 uniforms.  The Bills will be unveiling their new 2011 uniforms this Friday Night.

~ ~ ~

Joe Ferguson quarterbacked
the Bills from 1973 to 1984
     In 1974 the Bills changed their helmet logo, from the "red standing" buffalo to the familiar logo of the "blue charging" buffalo, and they would keep this uniform through the 1983 season.  This style would pretty much be synonymous with the Joe Ferguson years.  The wore the red socks from the 1973 season for just the first year of this style, and then from 1975 through 1980 the uniform was predominately blue.  In 1981 they brought back the red socks and kept them for the last three years of this style.
The royal blue pants really "pop" under the lights after the
sun goes down in a late "4PM start" game at Tampa in 1982
     Throughout this era, they kept the bright royal blue pants, which they introduced in 1973, with the white jersey and wore the white pants only with the blue jersey.
     The Bills made the postseason in their first season in this helmet, going 9-5 under Lou Saban and losing to Pittsburgh in an AFC Divisional Playoff game.  They then had a few lean years, and when Chuck Knox became the head coach in 1978 things started improving.  In 1980 they went 11-5 and won the AFC East, but lost to San Diego in the playoffs.  In 1981 they were a Wild Card team at 10-6, and defeated the New York Jets in the wild card game, before losing to Cincinnati.  They would last wear this outfit (with the white helmet, anyway) during a 8-8 campaign in 1983 under new coach Kay Stephenson.

~ ~ ~

     Today we want to thank for a website mention Jesse Alger and the guys at a Miami Dolphins website, the Finsiders.  They used our graphics in constructing a slideshow of the Dolphins uniforms through the years called "Aqua Through The Years," showcasing how the Dolphins seem to change the shade of their jersey color more often than some teams seem to change their socks.
     We do also want to give credit for a slight change in our database to John Smith.  He was mentioning to us that the 1991 and 92 Patriots -- the last years they wore the red jerseys -- were outfitted by Russell Athletic.  He provided us with information that game-worn jerseys in his collection proved this data as well as photos from the era.
     While we do include the manufacturer information with some of the jerseys in the database, it is primarily to describe the detail of the manufacturer logo that appears on jerseys.  For example in this 1993 Patriots detail, we have included the "Uniforms by Apex" detail to describe the detail of the manufacturers logo that appears on the sleeve below the "Flying Elvis" patriot logo.
     In many of the older uniforms, primarily before the mid-1990s, the manufacturer logo did not readily appear on the jersey, it was only on inside tags, or many times on the shirt-tail which would not be visible, tucked into the pants.
     This may be the case with the Russell Athletic logo on the 1991 & 1992 Patriots.  While the manufacturer information is appreciated, if it is not describing an appearing detail of the jersey, it is outside the scope of this database.  If we were to attempt to go back and include manufacturer information on all past jerseys in cases where the logo wasn't visible just for the purpose of including this information, we'd have a lot of work on our hands.
     John did provide us with one item to update, however, and that was that the 1990 Patriots did wear white facemasks, and we have made that change to the database.

The Patriots wearing white face-masks on December 9, 1990 against the Steelers

~ ~ ~  

"Our thanks to Matt Damon,
unfortunately we ran out of time"

     We also have some changes involving the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, which we promise we'll try to get to tomorrow. Also Thursday, we'll have Part IV of our look back at the Bills' uniforms through the years.

History of the Buffalo Bills Uniforms Part II

     Here at The Gridiron Uniform Database we are continuing our week-long look back at the uniforms of the Buffalo Bills, who will be unveiling their new uniforms this Friday Night.

~ ~ ~

Jack Kemp led the Bills to
2 AFL titles in this uniform
     In 1962, the Bills adopted the red standing buffalo as their helmet logo.  The Bills wore this style, both with white and royal blue tops paired with white pants, through 1973.  In 1967, they also wore a darker blue during the preseason, and in the final year of this style, in '73, they added a little more red to the uniform (stripes and socks) and also added blue pants to go with the white jersey.

In the final game of the 1973 regular season the
Bills faced the Jets at Shea Stadium.
OJ Simpson entered the game with 1,803 yards
needing just 61 to break Jim Brown's
record.  Simpson gained the 61 yards early
in the game and finished the game with
192 yards compiling 2,003 for the season.
     Wearing this uniform the Bills won back-to-back AFL Championships in 1964 and 65, however the team fell on harder times after a few brief years, winning only one game in both 1968 and 1971.  After the NFL-AFL merger, the Bills never made the NFL playoffs with the red standing buffalo.  In their best season of this era, they went 9-5 and were only one game behind the AFC Wild Card Team, the Pittsburgh Steelers in 1973, their last with this helmet.  The seminal moment that people think of in this era, however, is not the 2 AFL titles, but the 2003 yards rushing by O.J. Simpson in 1973, a record set that was the football equivalent of the 61 homers of Roger Maris or the 100 points of Wilt Chamberlain.

     While in the last two decades the name O.J. Simpson conjures up images of a different sort, for two decades the name simply brought to mind one of the greatest running backs of his time, a man who's 1973 season put him in the company of Jim Brown, Gale Sayers and later Walter Payton, as the greatest rushers of all time.  Even with the off the field events that happened in 1994, Simpson's place in NFL history is still apparent:  When one sees the red standing buffalo of that era of Bills' football, one's first thoughts are of that first two-thousand yard rushing season.

~ ~ ~

1968 Cincinnati Bengals
1968 Denver Broncos
     Today for a database change, we'd like to bring you the updated uniforms of the 1968 Cincinnati Bengals and Denver Broncos. 1968 was the first year of play for the expansion Bengals, and in the preseason they faced the Broncos on August 10 in only their second game ever.  Based upon a newspaper article of that day submitted in the forums, we have made some adjustments to the uniforms of these two teams and added the preseason variations that we can confirm they wore in that game.

     If you look closely, you can see a difference in the Bengals' sleeve stripes from their regular season variation, there is a separation of white between the black and orange stripes.  The Broncos' variation is more apparent, they are paring their 1966 uniform with the 1968 helmet.

~ ~ ~

     We'll be back tomorrow with the next era of Bills' uniforms and some more database updates, including changes involving the Philadelphia Eagles and the Kansas City Chiefs, and even the New England Patriots.

History of the Buffalo Bills Uniforms Part I

     It's a new week here at The Gridiron Uniform Database and as promised today we begin our week-long look back at the uniforms of the Buffalo Bills, who will be unveiling their 2012 (assuming the lockout gets settled) 2011 uniforms on Friday Night.

~ ~ ~

1947 Buffalo Bills (AAFC)
     When the Bills began play as one of the charter members of AFL in 1960, they were actually using the same name as an AAFC team from the 1940s. The AAFC team started out as the Bisons in 1946, but from 1947-49 they were the Bills.  When the NFL absorbed the three teams from the AAFC, they almost chose Buffalo instead of Baltimore to go along with San Francisco and Cleveland.   Those Baltimore Colts were unsucessful and folded after one season -- the Colts of today were a different club; a 1953 expansion team.  The AAFC Bills were absorbed into the Cleveland Browns when the Browns joined the NFL.
1960 Bills' Team Photo
     Ralph Wilson, who was a part-owner of the Detroit Lions, was approached by AFL founder Lamar Hunt about having a team in the new league.  Wilson selected Buffalo over Miami and Cincinnati to be the location of his new franchise, and they named it after the defunct AAFC team.  For uniforms, they kept the same look as the AAFC Bills, the same blue and silver that Wilson's Lions also wore, and they would wear this look for the 1960 and 1961 seasons.
1959 Detroit Lions
1961 Buffalo Bills
     Since they only kept this look for the first two seasons, the classic blue and silver, although the first uniforms of this franchise, is rarely thought of or celebrated by the team.  It has never been used for throwback celebrations, and the iconic look they adopted in 1962 is widely regarded as the "original Bills" uniform.  Tomorrow we'll look back at the red "standing Buffalo" logo and the Bills' uniforms of the 1962-73 era.

One of the few images I could find of the 1960-61 Bills, this is running back Cookie Gilchrist of the Bills running over the Boston Patriots.  Even assuming the numbers are blue and the pants are silver/gray, the apparently white helmet with a stripe and no numbers may lead this photo to revamping, slightly, our database image of the Bills unis of this era.
This picture, which is undated and unknown if it is a regular or preseason game, also shows no Pat the Patriot on the right side of #85's helmet, while #34 does have the patriot on his left side.   Hmmmm.

~ ~ ~

1964 St. Louis Cardinals
1981 Pittsburgh Steelers
     On Saturday, we told you about our revamping of the shoulder numbers for the Steelers, and we'd like to thank everyone who voted in our poll.  We decided to go with number five, and we updated the Steelers' numbers from that whole era, 1968 to 1996, as well as the road whites of the 1964 St. Louis Cardinals.  If you know of any other Cardinals' years or any other teams that wore the number on the mid-shoulder, let us know.

~ ~ ~

     Tomorrow we'll have part two of our look at the Bills' uniforms, plus we'll have some database changes based on a picture from a Bengals-Broncos 1968 preseason game newspaper clipping we looked at.


Blog Archive