Researching at the Library of Congress, Part I

Today our research historian Tim Brulia brings us his research from his recent trip to the Library of Congress in Washington.

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Over the last several years, I have done some research at the Library of Congress (LOC) in Washington, D.C. The LOC consists of several buildings; The Thomas Jefferson Building, the James Madison Building and the John Adams Building. The building I hit, the Madison Building, houses an extremely extensive newspaper microfilm collection.

This past Saturday (July 9th), I made my journey from my abode in Enola, PA to the LOC. I drive from Enola to the Shady Grove Metro Station parking lot, where I board the Metro to the Capitol South stop. My mission: to extensively review the newspapers from 1941-1944 to make sure I have gathered as much information as possible on all of the teams, keying in on newspaper photographs from the microfilmed images. The photos will also help to assist our graphic engineer Bill Schaefer with his massive project of sizing up the game by game uniform match-up. I am armed with just a few neccessities for the trip; a mechanical pencil, my trusty composition book and my LOC reading ID card. No laptop, tablet or flash drives, just my 20th century equipment.

The newspaper reading room is large, but not overwhelming. The staff are courteous, friendly and helpful. The ritual consists of signing in and finding a microfilm reader. Once I anchor myself in position, I then go to work. The LOC has the New York Times, Chicago Tribune, Philadelphia Inquirer and Washington Post available for free access. The other newspapers I must request from the LOC staff. For the 1941-44 era, these would include the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Detroit Free Press, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and the Milwaukee Journal (for Green Bay). Fortunately, I have on-line access to the NY Times and Milwaukee Journal and I have already used the Pennsylvania State Library for the Philly and Pittsbugh newspapers. When the staff retrieves my requested order, they bring the reels right to my work station. Excellent service!

As I go through the microfilm, I have already laid out a bit of a game plan. In my composition book, I have already logged in each season, team by team, the home schedules for each team. If I come across a photograph for the game I need, I note what the colors are for both teams that include helmet color, jersey color, pants color and sock colors. Anything unusual I see, I then try to do a quick glance in the game's write-up if any mention is made of the odd finding. If so, I jot it down. If not, I will make a note of the oddity I spotted myself. The hours for Saturdays at the LOC are from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. I work straight through the day without a lunch break, only pausing for nature's call or a quick sip from the water fountain.

Annnnnd, here's what I found that Bill needed to fix to bring a little more acccuracy to the database:

Dodgers: Remove the lower serif on the 1's on the front only.
Rams: Change pants to what was worn in 1940 (saw a pic from 10/5 game vs Bears in the 10/6/41 Plain Dealer, and compared to the Bears white pants, they were definitelty still yellow). Stay with the blue helmet (though I'm not 100% certain on the helmet color, it seems to match up with the jersey colors).
Eagles: Add a dark blue top with straight silver pants combo. They wore this for the 11/30 home game with the Bears and the 12/7 away game with the Redskins.

Dodgers: Remove the lower serif on the 1's on the front only. Change color of khaki pants to white.
Rams: Change helmet to yellow (it definitely seems lighter than 1941's). Change pants to the 1940 yellow version.
Eagles: Remove the all green combo.
Dodgers: White shoulders should be squared off. Thicken the sock red stripes by a pixel each and bring them a tad closer together. Add red rear stripes on the red combo. Remove the bottom serif on the front 1 only on the blue jersey only.

Yanks: On white jersey add forearm stripes (only team I've ever seen wear forearm stripes) of thin green/medium gold/thin green. Wore this jersey 10/22 at Philly.
Tigers: Add a combo with pants same color as the jersey.
Rams: Change socks on the blue combo to blue with 3 yellow stripes. Saw no signs of "patch" on sleeve(s).
Packers: Add white jersey combo with yellow shoulders and numerals (worn at Cleveland on 11/12).
Eagles: Add the white jersey/silver pants combo with two sleeve stripes (worn at Boston 9/26 and 10/8 vs Skins at home)
Redskins: Add combo with jersey that looks like the 1938 gold numbered jersey (without) sleeve patches. They wore this jersey at least twice, 10/8 at Philly and 10/15 at Boston.

I did finish my mission with about an hour to spare, so I took a scenic drive in the Maryland countryside to get off the sometimes crazy interstate traffic.

My next sojourn to the LOC is scheduled for August 6th, where I will seek out the 1945-1948 era of NFL Uniforms. I will report back to you with those findings then.

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Thanks, Tim, we'll look forward to your next trip and further updates.

Looking Like A Fool, With Yo' Pants On The Ground

Yesterday here at the Gridiron Uniform Database, Bill's article on the monochrome-white look stirred up some debate here at the website.  For the most part people apparently can tolerate monochrome uniforms (whether white or color) as long as they are not matching the pants of the opponents.  For example, mono-white can look good, as in the examples Bill used yesterday, as long as the other team is wearing colored pants.

Bears at Cowboys, 2004 - a rare color-on-color matchup
in the modern-day NFL
What if they were to simply apply the same logic to pants as they do now to the tops?  If a home team is wearing a white pant, the visitors shouldn't wear white pants also, just like now if a team wants to wear white (the jersey top, that is) at home, the other team must wear a color.  (With the exception of the occasional color-on-color matchup, like the Bears vs. Cowboys in 2004, although even then the throwback Cowboys had white shoulders.  Color-on-color matchups, of course, were the norm before the days of television.)

Why not apply the same logic to pants as well?  Teams like the Colts that now only have white pants should be required to have a second color of pant, and while the Colts could certainly intend to wear white pants as much as possible, as that is their classic look, in a case where they are on the road against, say the Bears, who choose to wear navy tops and white pants, then the Colts would have to go with white tops and blue pants.  Worse case scenario, for the Colts, then, would be to be playing on the road against a team that chooses to wear mono-white at home, and then they would have to wear mono-blue, I'm not sure that would be a good look -- of course, instead of blue they could have gray pants, like they wore from 1982 through '86.  Interestingly enough, when the Colts did wear those gray pants, they only wore them with the blue tops, and not the white. 

That would be the drawback to this system, basically if teams were required to have two colors of pants, to contrast when an opponent wears white at home, does a team choose to have as their "second pant," pants of the same color as their colored jersey (in the Colts' case, blue) or do they have a neutral pant, like a gray.  If they have a gray, they then could pair the colored jersey with the gray, but the whole point was to pair the colored pant with the white jersey.  But if the only non-white pant that they have is the color, then they take the risk of being forced into wearing mono-color, if the opponent chooses to wear mono-white at home.  Of course, there would be nothing to stop a team like the Colts from having white, blue and gray pants.

Syracuse in mono-orange.  Some colors just
don't look good in monochrome.
Maybe we need to look at the short three game trial the 1995 Colts gave to their blue pants, and see why they "didn't work."  Did they wear them against other colored pants?  Did they wear them against white pants?  I think it was just a case of that's what they've known for so long, and it looked different.  Perhaps a trial of any sort should be a whole season before it is summarily dismissed.

Take for instance the old Bucs' creamsicles uniforms.  Up through 1991, the Bucs only had white pants.  In 1992, they debuted orange pants, and they were mostly liked (when paired with the white top, of course).  If you went with our proposed system, a road game against a team wearing mono-whites, the Bucs would have been required to wear mono-orange -- a look that the team never tried.  (Although Sam Wyche reportedly did propose it for his final game in 1995, he was overruled by Hardy Nickerson.)  Would these 1992-96 Bucs, under our system, have had a third pant, in order not have to wear mono-orange to avoid clashing with white-on-white road opponents?  Perhaps they would have added a black pant?  Or what if they had simply added pewter-pants to their existing ensemble, as in this example to the right?  Perhaps the 1997 redesign wouldn't have even been necessary, had they slightly modified their existing uniforms in this way.
The Bucs, however, with the 1997 redesign, now offer the ultimate in uniform versatility.  They have a white top and a color top (red) paired with white pants and a color pant that is a different color than the top (pewter).  They can therefore go mono-white, or white-with-color-pant or color-with-white-pant, or color-with-different-color-pant without going mono-color.  And in the fourteen seasons with this uniform set, they have and do wear all four combinations.  Under our system they at least have the opportunity to avoid wearing clashing pants at all times.  Why then, therefore, would they choose to wear the white pants against the white-panted Falcons as in Bill's example yesterday?  Under our rules, they would then have worn the pewter pants, which would have looked better, in our humble opinion.

Wouldn't this look better with the Jets in green pants?

The Jets are another team that gets the thumbs-up -- and while using only one color besides white.  They can go mono-color, mono-white, color-white or white-color, and they do wear all four combos.  That hasn't prevented them, however, from wearing mono-white against a team wearing white pants.

Many teams already have two colored tops and two color pants, and some don't even have white pants at all.  The Saints, for example, have only gold and black pants.  They can go mono-black if and when they want, and they do.  (Just don't do it against a team wearing black pants, as Bill showed us yesterday.)

Teams like the Raiders and Lions, for example, both have only silver pants.  Look at this picture to the right.  These pants do clash, but it somehow looks all right.  Or does it?  Would it look even better if the Lions were wearing blue pants?  Or how about if the Raiders paired white pants with the black home jersey.  (But that's their iconic silver-and-black look!  No, we can't mess with that, I can hear you scream.  Relax -- they are the home team.  So the Lions, here, would have had to adopt either a blue or a white pant.  Hmmm.  Mono-white wouldn't look so bad here, I would think.  But I did like the blue pants that the Lions had in 1998.

With the Bucs going with mono-white for this
2009 game, the Cowboys wearing blue-over-silver
gets the "thumbs-up" from us here at The
Gridiron Uniform Database
.  Had the Bucs gone

with white-over-pewter, under our rules
the Cowboys would have had to pair the
blue jersey with...uh...wait a minute, both of the
Cowboys' pants are two different shades of silver,
both of which could theoretically be deemed
to clash with pewter.
Under our system would the Cowboys need
to add a blue or a white pant?  Hmmm.

So bottom line, our proposal would be that all teams should have two sets of pants, just like they all have at least two jersey tops now.  When there is a conflict, the road team should have to wear a contrasting pant from the home team.

With the Women's World Cup being in the news right now, one can look at the traditional system that soccer has used.  Both teams have a "normal kit" and a "change kit".  A team will generally always wear the normal kit, but if there is a conflict with the opposing team, they will wear the change kit.  In practice, this winds up being pretty much what the Cowboys do.  Preferring to wear their white uniform, in a league where teams mostly wear colors at home, has the net result of them almost always wearing the white uniform.  They last wore their regular blue "road" uniform in 2009, as last season they we able to get by wearing either their whites or their throwbacks entirely.

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So what do you all think?  Should all teams be required to have two pairs of pants?  Should NFL games feature exclusively non-clashing pants, like they do with jerseys now?

Coming up this weekend our head researcher Tim Brulia will be bringing us some interesting uniform research he recently conducted at the Library of Congress in Washington, and also don't forget to vote this week in the latest round of uniform matchups in the Best NFL Uniform Of All Time Tournament

Monochrome Whites, Part 2

Today at The Gridiron Uniform Database, our "graphical engineer" Bill Schaefer breaks down the use of monochrome white uniforms in the NFL, a topic we first broached here in the blog on June 26.

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When constructing the graphics for thousands of uniform combos going back to the 1930’s, you discover some things about yourself as far as ‘what you like’ and ‘what you don’t like.’  The first thing I discovered was how much I detest mono-white uniforms.  I freely admit to being in the camp that likes the mono-colored uniforms, even when my Bears wear (and always lose in) the mono-navy, I like the look.  My favorite look, however, is a 2-color combo with jersey and pants being two completely different colors.  This does not include white.  White should not be considered a color.

The Redskins wearing burgundy over yellow. The Lions wearing blue over silver.  The Raiders. The Steelers. The Packers.  The Rams. The Bucs.  These, in my opinion, are good looks.  Why?  The colors pop!  Without color, what do you have? White.  My artistically-inclined students would remind me that white light is actually made up of all of the colors of the rainbow.  Remember playing with a prism in middle school science and making rainbows?  Well, no one wears a rainbow on their football uniform.  The University of Hawaii did away with them quite a while ago.

I’ve found that there are exceptions and those revolve around a simple principle – you can’t screw up a uniform comprised of two colors when one of the two is white.  (I know. I just called white a color but bear with me.)  The Colts and the Jets.  For whatever reason, I don’t have a problem with their mono-whites (except when the Jets wear the white socks with the horizontal stripes instead of the plain green ones, which they haven’t done since ‘07).  I know for the Colts it probably has something to do with the fact that they actually tried blue pants (3 games in 1995) and it just didn’t work out.  The late-1960’s Rams went mono-white with their blue and it worked. The Eagles of the 1950’s and 1960’s went mono-white in combination with green and it worked.

My question is, if you’re going to bother incorporating multiple colors into your uniform, why do you need so much white?  I’m surprised no one has trotted out in this combo to the left yet.  Oh, wait. Someone did and they lost to Burt Reynolds! 

Here’s the funny thing I’ve noticed.  I can just about tolerate any mono-white uniform…as long as their opponent isn’t wearing white pants.

Why should that make a difference?  What do I mean, you say?  I’ve taken the Tampa Bay mono-white and placed it against both the Falcons throwbacks and the bi-colored Saints because of their similarities of utilizing black. 

Looking at just the jerseys and pants in the pair-up versus Atlanta, notice that the lack of color in three of the four aspects (jerseys and pants only) just makes everything look so…blah.  But when the same mono-white is paired against the Saints combo, well…the entire result is not so bad.

Fans pitched fits back in 2007 when we had the ‘privilege’ of watching this game (Jaguars vs Saints - right) – the opposite of the ‘polar bear in a snowstorm.’ Why is nothing ever said when the overabundance is plain, boring white?  I’ve seen it said that mono-white uniforms are ‘clean and crisp.’  When should football ever be ‘clean and crisp’?

The most egregious offender of the ‘mono-whitism’ was easily the 1988 and 1989 Patriots.   Seriously, Pat Patriot had more going on than this uniform.  Placed side by side with the totally mono-white and I think you’ll see my point.

The worst situation of all occurs when the mono-white team wears a white helmet and plays another team wearing white helmets and white pants.  Try Miami versus the Jets, for instance. What are you saying when the only team colors being displayed are on 1 team jersey and everyone’s socks? 

This being said, the first uni-tweak that I will be presenting here at The Gridiron Uniform Database blog next week involves these very same Dolphins.   Stay tuned.
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Thank you, Bill, for that look at monochromatic white unis.  I for one, as a Buccaneer fan, am fairly ambivalent about the Bucs' mono-white look.  With the white jersey I'd prefer the pewter pants over the white, although I can absolutely say I hate the red-over-pewter look, preferring instead the Bucs' red-over-white look the best.  To me the pewter pants just show sweat too much, and the red-pewter is just too dark a combo.  I'd be just happy if they went with only the white-pewter and red-white as their only unis combos.
We'll look for your follow-up and the first-ever Gridiron Uniform Database tweak next week.
In the meantime, voting continues in the Best NFL Uniform Of All Time Tournament right here.

Best NFL Uniform Tournament, Week 3

It's time once again to introduce a new batch of entries in our Best NFL Uniform Of All-Time Tournament.  First let's announce the winners from last week:  The 1981 Falcons defeated the 1934 Portsmouth Spartans 135 to 24 (85%); The 1979 Buccaneers defeated the 1997 49ers 126 to 35 (78%); The 1983 Los Angeles Raiders defeated the 1975 St. Louis Cardinals 100 to 55 (65%) and in what may have been a mild upset, the 1969 Houston Oilers defeated the 2002 Pittsburgh Steelers 103 to 86 (54%).

Week 2 Winners

A couple changes -- initially we were just going to have 128 randomly selected entries which represented a fair amount of different uniforms from each franchise, but since then we have decided to expand the tournament to include pretty much every basic different uniform look that each team has had.  While this may lead to more entries from franchises that have both played longer as well as those that have changed uniform styles more frequently, in the long run, the uniforms that are voted the best will still rise to the top.  That being said, we are going to double up the amount of entries per week, so here are eight matchups to vote on.  Beginning this week, we will be launching a new batch of matchups every Wednesday.

So here are the third group of entries to vote on:

Matchup #9: 1967 Green Bay Packers (green/yellow) vs 1992 Buffalo Bills (blue/white).  This entry pits a classic look from a franchise that has won 4 Super Bowls against the only team to lose four Super Bowls in a row.  The green-over-yellow home uniforms of the Packers have gone virtually unchanged for over fifty years, this uniform set represents the years 1959 to the present for the Green Bay squad.  From the Vince Lombardi years of Paul Hornung and Bart Starr to the Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers era this uniform has had it's share of success.  The Buffalo Bills uniform of the Jim Kelly era, this team made it to the big game only to come up short four years in a row in the early nineties.  This uniform represents the 1984 through 2001 Buffalo seasons.

Matchup #10: 1987 Denver Broncos (white) vs 1998 Baltimore Ravens (purple/white).  This entry for the Broncos road uniforms from 1972 to 1996, a team that, like the 1990s Bills, never quite made it over the hump.  This team won four AFC Championships, three of them with John Elway at quarterback.  The white road uniform was worn in two of those Elway Super Bowl losses, plus a memorable AFC Championship win at Cleveland capped off by "The Drive".  The Ravens wore this uniform combo only two years, 1997 and 1998.  In 1996 the expansion Ravens wore only black pants, and by 1999 they had changed their helmet design due to a copyright infringement claim.

Matchup #11:  1991 Kansas City Chiefs (red/white) vs 1955 Los Angeles Rams (yellow).  The Chiefs' classic home look has remained pretty much unchanged for it's whole existence, even after the early 60s move from Dallas, all they did was change the logo and a slight adjustment to the shade of red.  For the most part the Chiefs uniform worn by Len Dawson in the 60s is the same as the uniform worn by Dwayne Bowe today.  The Rams of Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch of the 1950s wore this combo almost exclusively from 1950 through 1957, the white outline of the navy number a staple of the uniform seen mostly in black-and-white photos today.

Matchup #12: 1995 New York Jets (green/white) vs 1975 New Orleans Saints (all white).  The Jets wore this combo through the Ken O'Brien years, the all-green helmet, the increased use of black trims in the 1990s, all-in-all this uniform set represents the 1978 through 1997 N.Y. Jets seasons, in 1998 they switched back to a white helmet more similar to their original look.  The Saints, meanwhile only wore this all-white uniform set for the one season, they had gold pants in 1974 and switched to black pants in 1976.  The all-white monochrome look, with Archie Manning at quarterback suffered through a 2-12 season, with both wins coming in home games wearing this uniform.

Matchup #13:  1981 San Diego Chargers (navy/yellow) vs 2002 Carolina Panthers (alt Panther Blue).  The Chargers of the Dan Fouts era made it two two consecutive AFC Championship games, and wore this uniform set for a decade from 1974 through 1984.  The Panthers have worn this third jersey occasionally during their relatively short existence.

Matchup #14:  2000 New York Giants (white/red numbers/gray) vs 1987 Seattle Seahawks (blue/gray).  The Giants went back to a more classic look after the 1999 season, switching back to the "NY" helmet logo and red numerals on their road jersey, and they promptly went and won the NFC in 2000 and were also wearing this uniform set in 2007 when they upset the 18-0 New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII.  The Seahawks wore this blue/gray combo for every home game from their expansion birth in 1976 through the 2001 season, they are the only NFL team to never wear white at home.

Matchup #15:  2009 Cincinnati Bengals (multiple variations of orange, black and white) vs 1971 Washington Redskins.  This uniform set encompasses all variations of the Bengals' mix-and-match variations they have worn since the beginning of the 2004 season, and the epitome (along with the Buffalo Bills) of what some people would say is what is wrong with the modern football uniform.  The Redskins under George Allen wore this yellow helmet with the "R" logo for only two seasons, ditching it in favor of the new helmet that they still wear to this day that they adopted in 1972 just in time to win the NFC and make it to Super Bowl VII.

Matchup #16:  1992 Dallas Cowboys (white/various shades of blue-gray) vs 2005 Houston Texans.  The classic home and also a-lot-of-the-time on the road as well uniform of the Dallas Cowboys.  The Cowboys' white uniform has become an iconic look from the era of the 1966 Ice Bowl with players like Don Meredith and Lance Rentzel, through the many hall of fame careers like Roger Staubach and Tony Dorsett through the more recent dynasty of Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smiff and Michael Irvin.  The Cowboys like this uniform so much, and since most teams wear their colors at home, they get to wear it almost all of the time.  In January 1981, the Eagles chose to white at home in the NFC Championship Game, forcing the Cowboys to wear their blue uniforms, and the Eagles won and advanced to Super Bowl XV.  The Cowboys have played in seven super bowls, and in six of them, including all five wins, they have worn white.  The Houston Texans expansion team in just getting ready to play it's tenth season, this is their home uniform, they wore it in their first game ever in 2002, defeating the Dallas Cowboys who were wearing this very uniform they are up against in this matchup on ESPN Sunday Night Football.

Matchup #9
1967 Packers
1992 Bills


Matchup #10
1987 Broncos
1998 Ravens

Matchup #11
1991 Chiefs
1955 Rams

Matchup #12
1995 Jets
1975 Saints


Matchup #13
1981 Chargers
2002 Panthers


Matchup #14
2000 Giants
1987 Seahawks

Matchup #15
2009 Bengals
1971 Redskins

Matchup #16
1992 Cowboys
2005 Texans


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There you have the new entries for this week's tournament, be sure to vote.   One other thing we wanted to mention today, it was posted in the comments of yesterday's Uni Watch that the Cleveland Browns will apparently be wearing white at home this season.  Thanks to Joseph Gerard for passing along that information.

Coming up tomorrow, Bill Schaefer will bring us his thoughts on the monochromatic white look that I opined about a couple weeks ago.

One Month Anniversary

As many of you know, on June 12 we launched this website of ours -- a website devoted to the study of the uniforms worn by professional football teams, centered around our database of images of all of the uniforms worn in the NFL since 1933.  The images created by our Bill Schaefer, which were based on research by Tim Brulia, have been displayed on this website, maintained by Rob Holecko, for a full month as of today.  We launched with an article on Uni Watch (right) and we were off and running.

We have experienced some technical issues in the past week, and also with other time commitments, we have decided to make a few changes to insure the long term viability of this site.  Last month when we launched, we felt it would be feasible to have a daily blog, in the style of the Uni Watch website.  For the most part we have held to this, however with much of our audience being the Uni Watch community, we have consciously made a decision to not try to "be another Uni Watch."  The nature of the main purpose of the blog, which was to be a vehicle to announce changes to the database, has become, over the first month, redundant and superfluous.  The database changes themselves have generally already been discussed in the forum, and to continue to try to keep coming up with different ways of saying, "we have changed this to this" was becoming ponderous, even only in the first month of existence.

So tomorrow we will be launching a minor redesign and a re-focusing of our efforts.  Instead of trying to continually announce database changes, the blog will now focus on bringing you articles that tell the stories behind the database changes and about professional football uniforms in general.  Articles like the ones that we have brought you in our first month such as Tim's piece of the 1941 Philadelphia Eagles or Bill's piece on another theory of the 1962 Denver Broncos helmet, plus features such as the Best NFL Uniform of All Time Tournament Contest (which will be returning tomorrow) will now be the focus of this blog, while the database changes themselves, which will continue to be debated and discussed in our forum, will be simply updated in the database as they are made.  A list will be maintained somewhere on the site, and updated as changes are made.

Therefore join us tomorrow as we begin our second month on the internet, hopefully the second of many months to come.

While we cannot promise to have new content every single day, we will strive to continue to bring fresh new football uniform content on a regular basis.  For daily content about athletic aesthetics of all sorts, we urge you to do what we do, and continue to read Uni Watch every morning.

Speaking of Uni Watch, we'd be remiss if we here at The Gridiron Uniform Database did not pass along our condolences as well, to Phil Hecken and the entire Uni Watch family on the passing of Phil's father.

Old Wives' Tales and Urban Legends (Part I)

Today, our historian Tim Brulia weighs in on the recent debate we've been having regarding the Philadelphia Eagles' early 70s white helmet with the green wings and whether or not it ever had a black outline, either the whole 1969-73 era, or just all or part of the 1973 season:

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In the early days of my rather intensive research of pro football uniforms, I have come across a few claims of certain helmet logos, TV numeral placements, oddball color schemes, and the like. Claims that were found on websites like the "Helmet Project" and "Mike Stanhope's Helmet History Page" among others.

One of the earliest such claims I have come across was that the Philadelphia Eagles wore a helmet that consisted of green wings with a black outline on a white shell. This much is true: In 1969, the Eagles made the first change to their helmet since 1954, when they first added a pair of silver wings to their green helmet, becoming only the second NFL team to sport a logo on their helmet. The Eagles actually wore two helmet designs in 1969, the NFL's 50th season of play. They kept the green helmet, but changed the wing colors from silver to white. They wore the green lid for away games only. They also broke out a white helmet with green wings for their home games at Franklin Field. In 1970, the Birds dumped the green helmet entirely, and would wear the white helmet exclusively through the 1973 season.

This picture may appear to indicate that the
green eagle wing on the helmet has a black outline
Trust us, it doesn't
Where this claim of black outlines around the green wings gathered steam is somewhat unclear to me. In fact, some of the claimaints used various photos as proof positive that the wings were indeed outlined in black. Perhaps the most notorious claim of the black outline was a super-zoomed in shot of quarterback Norm Snead. Having been a geek about football uniforms even back in 1973, and having seen a number of Eagles games on TV, I know I would have been able to spot a black outline on the wings. After all, starting in 1970, the Eagles started to wear jerseys that were very plain in design, no sleeve stripes and numbers that had black outline on the numbers on both the white and green jerseys. In 1971, black stripes were added to the pants, flanking the middle green stripe. I guess folks thought that well, with black on the jerseys and pants, black has to be on the helmet, too?

My theory on why people think that they saw black on the wings when they really never ever had them? It may be as far-fetched as the black outline claims, but a decal's edge may appear to have a darker edge around them as opposed to their "natural" color. I'm not sure what affect lighting may have on the decal edge, but I'm thinking that games that were played in sunlight would seem to create the dark edge effect moreso than a game played in less than ideal light. In fact, take a good hard look at a photo of a very close shot of the helmet logo, any helmet logo. You MAY be able to see a millimeter thin blackish outline just offset surrounding the logo. 

Our graphic artist Bill Schaefer came across an NFL Films clip of Philly's 1973 game at Washington, which I believe, is the last game that the Eagles wore the white helmet. Bill came across some nice screenshots from this game, played under snowy conditions, which clearly show there was NO black outline on the green wings. No tricks with sunlight or floodlights.  The picture at right of Roman Gabriel under center is from that game.

At any rate, the Snead picture we mentioned earlier was from the 1970 season, while the Chris Creamer's site that spurred us revisiting this topic this week, shows no outline for 1969 through 1972 and the black outline for the 1973 season.  Other fourms have been discussing this matter for at least six years, and no conclusive proof of the existence of a black-outlined green-wing white-helmet has ever surfaced.

The bottom line: based on the evidence we have seen, we have come to the conclusion that at no point during the white-helmet era of the Eagles, did the green wings have a black outline.
Oh, I'm sure that some will still try to sway us with proof positive that the Eagles wings did have the black outline in this era. But as far as the Gridiron Uniform Database is concerned, dude, it didn't happen. 

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Well, there you have it.  Like Tim says, as far as we at the Gridiron Uniform Database are concerned, the issue is closed, the Eagles' white helmet that they wore from 1969 through 1973 never had a black outline around the green eagle wing.  Now if you do still believe otherwise, then I encourage you to look for incontrovertible photographic proof.  Is it technically possible that they did introduce a black-outlined wing on the helmet for a game or two during the 1973 season?  Absolutely.  Perhaps they used it at the beginning of the season, and scrapped it shortly thereafter.  But for the time being, as Tim pointed out, we have found no evidence that they ever did have such a helmet, and also believe for a fact that the helmet that they were using at the end of the 1973 season absolutely did not have a black outline on the wing.

If you are still certain that such a helmet did exist, then I encourage you to continue looking for evidence of it's existence (beyond the photographs we have already discussed) and we will consider re-visiting the matter, but in the mean time, the case is closed.

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To those of you who haven't voted in this week's matchups in the Best NFL Helmet of All-Time, hurry up and get your votes in, another round of matchups will be unveiled on Monday and also we have a whole bunch of database updates to hopefully reveal tomorrow.


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