If Now Was Then...(Part 1)

I was watching a bit of a Tennessee Titans game early in the Preseason and a thought occurred to me. If the Titans were playing back in the 1940s era, what would the jerseys look like? The colored shoulder area likely would have extended all the way to the wrists, I imagined.  

Having recently completed graphical images for the 1920-1932 era over the summer, I decided to broaden my scope and have a bit of fun.  All work and no play, etc, etc. What would EACH current team look like if they were playing back in the times of the leather helmets and long sleeves? I made my first attempts at re-envisioning current uniforms of the Dolphins and Jaguars last year. But this was a horse of a different color.

Intrigued by the prospects, I started to lay some ground rules. But, in the words of Captain Barbossa, these rules are “more what you’d call guidelines than rules.”

White jerseys were not overly frequent so I tried to keep them to a minimum. (In fact, I was able to make due without white jerseys for more than half of all current teams.)

No logos (other than very early Redskins and Pirates/Steelers) ever appeared on jerseys.

Stripes around socks and sleeves tended to be without thin little border stripes and either had no separation or a large amount of separation between them.

One pair of pants allowed per team.

Stripes on pants are located on the backs of the legs…’butt-stripes’ if you will.  I used the model of the 1936 Giants who had 3 color strips in each stripe.

I only used 3 models of helmets – the basic leather, the flying wing with stripes, and the flying wing without stripes.

If the team already existed back in the 30s, 40s, and/or 50s, its design then could be used as a model but I was not putting any limitation on myself saying I HAD to use that exact design.

Unless black is one of the teams’ main ‘colors,’ it does not get used (i.e. Detroit, Philadelphia, & Arizona).

No chromatic limitations. Back in the day, could a manufacturer have made golden jerseys (not yellow – real gold) for a team? Hard to say.

No TV numbers or nameplates.

It’s important to keep in mind that ‘color vs. color’ match-ups were frequent at the time including Green Bay in navy playing Chicago in navy. When teams had secondary uniforms at the time, they saw little action, sometimes never more the two or three Sundays per season. Other teams, like Philadelphia, wore both jerseys interchangeably throughout the season both home and away.

That said, for the next 8 weeks, I will be bringing you these constructs division by division.  The first division to be presented is the ‘grandfather’ of them all, the NFC North…

The NFC North
CHICAGO – Boy, was this difficult! <sarcasm included> Aside from changing the numbers on the navy jersey to orange (as they were back then) and adding a reverse orange secondary combo that was routinely worn throughout the 30s, this IS the Bears.

DETROIT – As with Chicago (and later with Cleveland), I had little choice with Detroit. This is who they are. I removed the highlighting outlines from the northwestern stripes and the numbers and all is good. A grey jersey was not an option.

 GREEN BAY – With the Packers I had a little leeway. Their current design wasn’t established until the 1960s. I decided on using their current stripe pattern as opposed to that of the 60s with the 5 stripes. I eliminated the separation stripes. I opted for their secondary jersey to be yellow. Green Bay actually utilized a mono-yellow look in the late-40s and 1950.

 MINNESOTA – As a Bears fan, it pains me to say this but, for some reason, the Vikings models I put together are my favorites when you compare them to the current versions. I used the original darker purple for the base as opposed to the current "Barney" purple. When they were founded, they featured northwestern stripes on their sleeves and added them to the socks in subsequent years. Removing the yellow outlines and sticking with straight purple and white made for one BAD combination. I went with a white flying wing on a purple helmet that resembles their current design bearing the Viking horns.

Next week, I will continue with the NFC East.  Stay Tuned...
Bill Schaefer


  1. Nice, but the Vikings looks like a very, very dark navy rather than a purple.

    1. It looks purple on my monitor. Very dark but still slightly purple.

    2. Ironically there was a very, very dark shade of Purple that was called "Northwestern Purple. It looked like either Navy or Black depending on the material, lighting, perspiration, etc. -Terry Proctor

  2. Just a quick question for Bill. For Da Bears, would they be using a rounded number font as the do now, or would that be a block style font with the "stick" ones?

    Cool stuff!

    1. When possible I tried to go with the current font. There will be exceptions however.



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