Bill Tweaks The Jaguars

Today at the Gridiron Uniform Database, our Bill Schaefer once again turns a team's uniform designs on its' collective head with a complete overhaul.  This time, it's the Jacksonville Jaguars.

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Like last week with the Dolphins, I know that any time I set out to make one of these uniform tweaks I know that I am probably going to rankle some of that team’s faithful.  I know that but again, please bear with me.

In 1995, teal was the trendy color.  San Jose Sharks.  Florida Marlins. Charlotte Hornets.  All of them incorporated teal.  Even the Jags’ expansion partner, Carolina Panthers, used a light Carolina blue that is chromatically very close to teal.  My opinion is that teal makes a very good secondary color, just not a good primary one.  My first job was demoting the importance of teal.  I still retained it as a secondary color.

What to use for a primary color?  Similar to choosing a dolphin grey, I chose the Jaguars’ own shade of gold.  Keeping the same helmet logo, I placed it on a gold helmet with a simple black central stripe and kept the black facemask.

When I was a kid, I was fascinated by the change Cincinnati made away from their Cleveland-clone uniforms to the revolutionary ones with the tiger stripes.  I decided to use that Bengals concept but in a much more toned down version.  I first thought of adding jaguar spots on the shoulders or the entire jersey. Sanity took hold as my design began to resemble this item to the right.

I settled on the collar and cuffs.  The rest of the jersey was made gold in the style of the Saints’ “one and done” 2002 alternate (left), but I stayed away from the black pants/black socks ‘leotard’ look.  I added four sets of thin shoulder/sleeve stripes utilizing the teal.  Why four?  To my recollection I’ve not seen a jersey with 4 stripes. Two, three, or five?  Yes.  Four?  No.  I also added something new to the numbers – stripes INSIDE the numbers.

Again, similar to Cincinnati and New Orleans (1999), I used basic black pants with a gold stripe panel of jaguar spots.  I didn’t want to use black socks as this would make the uniform look too much like New Orleans so I went with plain gold socks.  I also added a jaguar-spotted belt for good measure.

Would something like this design ever get used?  I doubt it.  It’s just the artistic version of someone who’s assembled thousands of uniform combinations and would like to fix what’s broke.

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Thanks Bill for this new concept -- it's not any worse than what they're wearing now, and I kinda like the leopard print side pant panels.  Maybe for a third alternate I'd add a black jersey with gold pants -- these two jerseys look kinda light.  Of course knowing the Jags, then they'd probably also wear mono-black and mono-gold.  I hope you get a better response to this one than last week.  

There will be no blog update Friday, but hopefully we'll be back Saturday with Tim Brulia's weekly column -- no idea what Tim will be opining about this week, but I'm sure, like all of his columns, it will be good.

In the mean time, voting continues on the fourth group of uniforms in our Best NFL Uniform of All Time contest, plus be sure to join in all the uniform debate fun in our forum.

Best NFL Uniform Tournament, Part 4

Today we bring you another installment of the Best NFL Uniform Tournament.  Every week or so, here at the Gridiron Uniform Database we are bringing you head-to-head matchups of NFL uniforms to vote on and the winners will compete in a bracket-style tournament to determine the Best NFL Uniform of all time.  Here are last weeks eight winners:

The 1967 Packers (green) defeated the 1992 Bills (blue) by a runaway 108 votes to 17 (86%).  The 1955 Rams defeated the 1991 Chiefs 59 to 43 (58%), the 1987 Broncos (white) defeated the 1998 Ravens (purple/white) by a 84-22 margin (79%), and the 1975 Saints (white) defeated the 1995 Jets 64 to 51 (56%).   The 1981 Chargers (blue/yellow) defeated the 2002 Panthers (alt. blue) 82 to 28 (75%) and the 1987 Seahawks (blue) defeated the 2000 Giants (white/gray) by a 60 to 51 margin (54%), while the 1992 Cowboys defeated the 2005 Texans (blue) by 61 votes to 44 (58%) and the 1971 Redskins (92 to 17, 84%) easily defeated the 2009 Bengals (all variations).

Now it is time to bring you another group of uniform matchups to vote on:

Here is Group #4:

Matchup #17: The 1985 Green Bay Packers (white uniforms) vs the 1935 Chicago Cardinals (blue).  For a few years in the 1980's, the Packers' slightly changed their uniforms, adding a player number detail on the pants strip and also the "G" helmet logo on the jersey sleeve stripe.  This is the uniform worn by Lynn Dickey, Paul Ott Carruth, and a bunch of other forgotten players on forgotten teams that filled the years between the Vince Lombardi and Brett Favre era, rarely making the playoffs, in fact from 1973-1991, only in the expanded 1982 season did the Pack qualify for the postseason.  They adopted the G and the pants number in 1984, and in 88, the number was gone and in 89 so was the "G".  For the Cardinals, from the 1930s into the 1950s, along with their red uniforms, they also had a blue combo, to wear when they didn't want to clash with other reddish- looking teams, like the Redskins, and the...uh, well Giants and Dodgers...  In 1935 and 36 they wore these diagonal stripes on their pants, they 36 variation on gray pants, but these 1935 unis were khaki.

Matchup #18:  The 1975 Cincinnati Bengals (black) vs the 1999 St. Louis Rams (blue).  For the Bengals, this was the classic 70s look of Ken Anderson and Isaac Curtis, years before the adopted the Bengal tiger strips, the Bengals were a non-descript team using the same colors (and same initials) of their founder's original club, the Cleveland Browns.  (Or was Cleveland using Brown's color.)  At any rate, in the early years of the Bengals franchise, the chief difference between the two clubs was the word "Bengals" written on the helmet.  Oh, and they used black instead of brown to go with the orange.  For the Rams, the uniforms that they debuted in 1973 in Los Angeles pretty much stayed unchanged until 1999.  The team appeared in 7 NFC Championships from 1974 through 1989 (although they only won one of them and went to Super Bowl XIV), and had a fairly successful run in these unis only to fall on hard times in the 1990s and move to St. Louis.  A resurgence with the amazing 1999 season with Kurt Warner the "Greatest Show on Turf" and their unbelievable run to a Super Bowl XXXIV championship was the swan song for these uniforms, however, as they ditched them after the season.

Matchup #19:  The 2003 Seattle Seahawks (white/blue) vs 1949 Los Angeles Dons (blue/red).  The Seahawks, after their redesign for the 2002 season, generally wear the white pants with the white top for the mono-white look, however this uniform combo does get worn from time-to-time.  It is matched-up against one of the most colorful, if not forgotten uniforms of all-time, the AAFC's L.A. Dons.  When the NFL absorbed a handful of AAFC teams into it's league, they took Baltimore (which failed) along with San Francisco and Cleveland.  While it has been debated that the league should have taken a more stable ownership group in Buffalo instead of Baltimore, it is ironic that it was due to the success of the Cleveland Browns that the NFL's Rams moved to L.A., had the Rams not been in L.A., the Dons may have been more successful and joined the NFL as a west coast compadre of the 49ers.

Matchup #20:  The 2009 Miami Dolphins (orange alts) vs 1988 San Diego Chargers (white).  The Dolphins, long a team of aqua and white and orange trim, adopted a third jersey color for the first time in 2003 when they added an orange top.  They wore it rarely in '03 and '04 and brought it back again in '09 and '10.  The Chargers, having ditched the yellow pants after the 1984 season, ditched the yellow lightning bolt of the helmet after the 1987 season, and brought in one of the most disliked uniform sets in franchise history when they debuted the white lightning bolt for the 1988 season.

Matchup #21:  1968 New York Jets (white) vs 2006 Tennessee Titans (all variations).  The Jets classic look of the Joe Namath era, the uniform we think of when we think of the landmark Super Bowl III guaranteed victory that put the AFL on the map, is a classic white-over-white look that the Jets tried to go back to when they redesigned their image for the 1998 season.  The new Jets' look, however, isn't an exact replica of the classic age of the Namath, Don Maynard and Weeb Ewbank Jets.  The Titans, like the modern-day Bengals, are another of these teams that mixes-and-matches multiple uniform tops and pants to have a plethora combinations to choose from.  With navy, light blue and white, in both jersey and pant, they theoretically have nine different combos they could wear.  Add in a second pair of socks or shoes (or even helmets) and teams like this could exponentially increase the combinations.  While the Titans haven't worn all nine different possible combos in a season, they have come close.  This entry covers the entire Titans 1999-to-the-present uniform set.

Matchup #22:  1985 New England Patriots (white-red) vs 1948 Baltimore Colts (green).  When we think of classic Colts-Patriots rivalry, we're thinking Brady vs Manning, and not this matchup.  The Patriots adopted the shoulder hoops in 1984, and this uni-combo, which saw them wear red pants in 1984-88 and 1990 through '92, became only the second Wild Card team to make it to the Super Bowl when they won the 1985 AFC Championship and faced the Bears in Super Bowl XX.  These Baltimore Colts are not the forerunners of the modern-day Indianapolis team, this AAFC team only lasted one season in the NFL.  These Colts, who wore green uniforms, began life as the Miami Seahawks, and folded after 1950.  However the name Colts in Baltimore began with these guys, and Baltimore fans were attached to the name enough that when they got a 1953 expansion team, they used the same name.  Although that team left in 1984, when Baltimore had a CFL franchise in the early 1990s, they tried to use the name, although legal issues prevented it's official adoption (they were called the Baltimore CFLers), and when the NFL returned in 1996, although another city had been allowed to keep their Colt identity, Baltimore didn't get the same treatment and be to take Cleveland's "Browns" name -- they had to settle for a new Raven identity.  But long-time Baltimore's football identity began with these original AAFC Colts in 1946.

Matchup #23:  1997 Tampa Bay Buccaneers (red-white) vs 1966 Kansas City Chiefs (white).  When the Buccaneers changed uniforms in 1997, their primary home outfit was the red-over-pewter.  But they debuted a red-over-white primetime set on September 21 and won a TNT Sunday Nitro matchup over the Dolphins to go to 4-0 and announce their arrival on the national stage.  Over the past decade they have only wore this set occasionally, but they have a surprisingly good W-L record while wearing red-over-white.  The Chiefs, who have pretty much had the same uniform throughout their existence, have worn red pants with the white jersey in 1968 through 1988 and again since 2000.  The Chiefs, who have never gone mono-red, have pretty much been consistent with either white-over-red or mono-white for their road set, although since 2006 they have worn both looks at times.  Before adopting the red-pants in 1968, however, the Chiefs were exclusively a white-pant team, and they wore this look to the first Super Bowl against the Packers.

Matchup #24:  1990 Philadelphia Eagles (white-gray) vs 1979 Detroit Lions (blue-gray).  The Eagles adopted a new look in 1985 and wore it for a decade, this is the primary road uniform of those years, which ran from the end of the Ron Jaworski era, and the entire Randall Cunningham and Buddy Ryan era. While they never made it to the NFC Championship in this time period, they did make it to the playoffs in five of the last eight years of this uniform set.  The iconic image that one thinks of when they think of this era, perhaps, is Cunningham avoiding a sack on a Monday Night in 1988 against the Giants.  The Lions, before they adopted the lighter honolulu blue in 1982, wore a darker uniform color.  This shade of blue had been worn by Detroit since the Bobby Layne years, but in 1979 belonged to a team that had only seen one playoff appearance from 1958 to 1981.

Well, those are the matchups, and here you can vote:

Matchup #17
1985 Packers
1935 Cardinals


Matchup #18
1975 Bengals
1999 Rams

Matchup #19
2003 Seahawks
1949 Dons

Matchup #20
2009 Dolphins
1988 Chargers


Matchup #21
1968 Jets
2006 Titans


Matchup #22
1985 Patriots
1948 Colts

Matchup #23
1997 Buccaneers
1966 Chiefs

Matchup #24
1990 Eagles
1979 Lions


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The Throwback Helmet Evolution

When the NFL celebrated its 75th anniversary in 1994, many of the teams wore throwback uniforms.  A few weeks back here at the Gridiron Uniform Database, we discussed how the Jets and Bills throwback helmets (right) weren't even the correct color.  Today our resident historian Tim Brulia takes a league-wide look at all the throwback helmets that NFL teams wore that in the throwback games that year:

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The throwback: an attempt to honor past teams by wearing previous years' uniforms that had since been retired.  A rather common thing in all sports in North America today, but a rather novel idea in 1993 and 1994. Let's go back, actually to 1969, when the National Football League celebrated it's 50th season of existence.

Throwbacks in 1969 weren't even a thought in the minds of the NFL. The only outward signs of celebration was a commemorative patch on the shoulders and sleeves of players and officials and a lavish coffee table book, "The First 50 Years.". The commemorative patch was simply the NFL shield with the stars and football in the blue field of the shield replaced by a wide white "50."

In 1984, the original eight teams of the AFL celebrated their 25th season of operation. They too, simply utilized a commemorative patch worn on the left collarbone area of the jersey, as on Dan Fouts' jersey in this picture to the left. Well, the Raiders were the usual contrarians, (right) wearing their patch on the left hip of their pants. Other teams were also starting to commemorate their histories by wearing patches for milestone seasons or anniversaries.

The idea of wearing a throwback uniform to commemorate a special anniversary or event apparently started with baseball's Chicago White Sox in 1990 when they broke out a 1917 vintage uniform for a game against Milwaukee, which was to celebrate their final season at old Comiskey Park. It was very popular, but I digress.
11/21/93 Bengals at Jets
1968 Jets helmet
On November 21, 1993, the Jets celebrated the 25th season anniversary of their landmark victory in Super Bowl III by wearing a uniform that hearkened back to that historical win against the Baltimore Colts. The jersey was similar to, but not exactly, the Super Bowl III jersey, while the pants and socks were close to the exact duplicate. The helmet?? Well, that's a different story altogether. As you can see, the 1968 helmet was white with two green stripes and a football shaped logo on the sides. The throwback helmet only resembled the logo. The helmet was green, like the 1993 helmet and was stripeless. The Jets simply took the current helmet and peeled of the logos and put on the '68 vintage logos and added a white outline to show the shape of the logo. This was the first intended usage of a throwback uniform in NFL history.

The following year, in 1994, the NFL celebrated not just their 75th season with a commemorative patch and this time a lavish coffee table book with accompanying video ("75 Seasons"), but they also decided to cash in on the party by having as many teams as possible wear throwback uniforms. In fact, Week 3 would see all, or almost all, of the teams wear throwbacks. While some teams really got into the spirit of the program with their jerseys and pants and even socks, some barely made any notable changes to their unis. But I will focus on the toughest uniform article to accurately throwback, the helmet. Here listed is each team and how accurately they "threw back" the helmet:

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Cardinals: Fair. Simply removed their decals to create a plain white helmet.
Falcons: Pass. Changed their helmet color from black to red with proper stripes and logo.
Bills: Fail. Changed only the logo from the charging blue buffalo to a standing WHITE buffalo. Meant to show the 1962-73 logo.
Bears: Fair. Simply removed the C's to create a plain navy helmet.
Bengals: Pass. Took off the tiger stripes and put on the generic "Bengals" in use from 1968-80.
Browns: Zero. No changes. To anything
Cowboys: Zero. No changes. 
Broncos: Pass. Changed their helmet color from blue to orange with proper logo and stripes.
Lions: Fair. Simply removed all logos and stripes to create a plain silver helmet.
Packers: Fair. Simply removed all G's and stripes to create a plain yellow helmet.
Oilers: Pass. Changed their helmet color from white to columbia blue with proper logo and stripe.
Colts: Zero. No changes.
Chiefs: Exempt. No changes, but really, nothing to change to for KC era.
Raiders: Fail. Though change was made from the current logo to the 1963 logo, they inaccurately made the shield white as opposed to silver.
Rams: Zero/Fair. No changes, but era duplicated wore same style helmet.
Dolphins: Pass. Changed to Dolphin "half out of sunburst" logo.
Vikings: Exempt. No real change to helmet design since inception.
Patriots: Pass. Changed their helmet color from silver to white with proper logo and stripes.
Saints: Zero/Fail. No changes.
Giants: Pass. Took off GIANTS logo, replaced with "ny" logo AND added accurate front/back rounded helmet numbers.
1994: Eagles vs. Packers
Jets: Fail. Took off current logo, added two white stripes and 1965-77 era logo with a white outline. Except for logo, an inverse design.
Eagles: Pass. Removed wings from helmet and made helmet to resemble 1942-1950, 1952 silver shell/green sided design.
Steelers: Fair. Simply removed decals, numbers and stripe to create a plain black helmet.
Chargers: Pass. Changed their helmet color from navy to white with proper logo and numbers.
49ers: Zero. No changes.
Seahawks: Exempt. No change to helmet design since inception.
Buccaneers: Exempt: No real change to helmet design since inception.
Redskins: Fair. Simply removed the logos and stripes to create a plain burgundy helmet.

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In 2010 the Colts wore this helmet;
in 1994 they just wore their usual one
Why the haphazardness with the helmets? It's obvious some teams made shortcuts on logos to save money. Helmets are far and away the most expensive piece of equipment on a football uniform. In addition, to lessen head injuries, more attempt is made to custom fit helmets to the head as much as possible, which probably results in more of a "breaking in" phase than other equipment. So, even with all of the money coming in from various sources, some teams simply wanted to cut costs as much as possible. Other teams, like the Falcons, Chargers, Patriots, Oilers were not as averse to dropping loot for another full set of helmets to break in.
As this was the aegis of throwback uniforms, some teams went all out for the throwbacks, getting everything as close to accurate as possible, others made a half-a--ed effort, getting some of the specifics, but paying no attention to detail. The Bills were notable offenders here. Some, while having the ability to make a few changes, chose not to (Colts and Browns), while others made jersey and pants changes that were accurate, but bailed on changing the helmet (49ers, Saints). And then other, because there were minimal changes to the unis up to that time, really made no changes at all (Buccaneers).
All in all, 1994 signaled the move to throwbacks as an alternate or third uniform for good. Teams that wear throwbacks today are much more accurate, accounting for cuts and materials changes from the specific period to how unis are worn today. Proof of this was the accuracy of the 2009 AFL Legacy unis to era they attempted to duplicate. As with anything, you learn from your mistakes and strive to improve. Take a look at the Bills as an example. What was a lame effort in 1994 where they didn't even get the helmet color correct, has evolved into the fabled throwbacks that they have worn in recent years.

Who said "you can never look back?" (Ed. note: I think it was Don Henley.)

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Thanks, Tim.  I'm sure this will not be the last time we look at the 1994 throwbacks.  Readers, what do you think of this topic?  Should the teams have taken more care in 1994 to have more accurate helmets, or do they get a pass since no one cared about throwbacks back then like they do today?

We'll be back tomorrow with another group of uniforms to vote on in the Best NFL Uniform of All-Time Tournament and later in the week Bill Schaefer will have some more tweaks to complement the Dolphins that everyone like so much.  In the mean time, take part in our forums and join the discussion, and also check out the latest database changes


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