Seahawks Sported Sans Serifs, Silly

Last summer, in the initial months of the Gridiron Uniform Database Blog, I used to write articles every day about database updates and related items.  In September, when school started back up we decided that the time that I had to devote to the website was better spent working on the database rather writing daily blogs, Uni Watch style.  Every now and then, however, an item comes up to blog about like this one today, so for today at least, blog style, we are going to party like it is 2011 and bring you a full write-up.

Here at the GUD, we are anxiously awaiting the new season and the 2012 Seahawks Nike re-design, (part of which is pictured at left -- I don't have permission from Bill to show the complete image yet, but I hope he doesn't mind me giving you a little taste!) My attention on Saturday, however, turned to earlier Seahawks uniforms.

For the most part, until the 2002 redesign the Seahawks wore a fairly unchanged uniform.  The uniform that Jim Zorn wore in the late 1970s was pretty much the same one Shaun Alexander donned in 2001.  I had always thought that the Seahawks of earlier years had larger numbers than later years in the pre-2002 era, and that didn't seem to be reflected in the database.  I had thought about this awhile ago, but decided to not pursue it due to varying number sizes being something that is somewhat hard to quantify -- the pre NOB NFL 1960s, the 1940s Redskins, among other uniforms had differing size numbers and I figured it was something that Tim and Bill had already discussed and I didn't feel it really warranted a change, as it wasn't really that much of an issue.

Those of you who are regular readers of the GUD blog know that I am a huge Tampa Bay Buccaneer fan, and I have a collection of many of their games.  For whatever reason I found myself watching the Bucs' 1996 game against the Seahawks, it was early in Tony Dungy's first season as coach, a particularly memorable game that saw the (0-3) Bucs take a 13-3 lead deep into the fourth quarter only to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, as Dungy's Bucs, in their last creamsicle season, were well on their way struggling to a 1-8 start.  They would rebound and close the season with wins in 5 of their last 7 games and this would be the beginning of the team that would go on to win the Super Bowl six years later, albeit a year too late for Tony Dungy.

Some Seahawk O-Linemen with unserifed 7s in 1996 at TB
While watching the game, as I do while watching many old games, I pulled up the GUD images of 1996 Seahawks and Bucs.  Noticing that the #11 on the Seahawks graphic had serifs, I was a little puzzled when I saw a 7 on a Seahawk OL-man that didn't. 

This doesn't necessarily mean that the 1s we had in the database were incorrect, but it was something that would require further investigation.  First of all, it was the shoulder numbers I noticed, not the main jersey number.  The shoulder numbers and main numbers are very nearly always the same font, but first I would have to confirm that the main uniform number was unserifed as well.

On the next play, I saw the lineman #74 again, this time lying on the ground and could see that his main uniform 7 was indeed unserifed.  Now was the 'one' the same?  Again, we could assume it was, but here at the GUD, we never assume anything.  When a team has a single-digit wearing signal caller like the Seahawks had with Rick Mirer in the mid-1990s, it is sometimes harder to spot a player wearing a one.  You have to hope you'll see a kicker, punter or back-up QB in the teens, or a WR with a 81 or a CB with a 41.

Midway through the fourth quarter, as the Bucs were preparing to collapse and fail to give Dungy his first victory as a NFL head coach, I saw Seahwks punter Rick Tuten on the sidelines.   Clear as day, his #14 featured an unserifed one.  This was now officially a GUD discovery that would eventually necessitate a database change.

The question now became, how far back did the un-serifed one go?  I was sure, in my mind's eye, that Jim Zorn's 10 did have serifed ones back in the day, but after thinking about it I now wasn't so sure.  Would the whole 1976-2001 era uniform set be affected by this change?  My first stop was to Google Jim Zorn...sure enough, his one was serifed, and as you can see in this black and white posed picture of him with Steve Largent, boy were those numbers huge!

But here was another difference I hadn't anticipated, the one was "squared-off" at the top.  Here's another picture of him (to the right) in game action with a squared-off one.  This apparently didn't last for all of Zorn's career, as most pictures of Zorn show him with the "slant-cornered top" one.  

A picture of Zorn with the squared-off
one, presumably from 1976.  Most Zorn pictures... him with a "one" like this one with the diagonal cut corner.... and this 1977 picture of Weaver....
Punter Herman Weaver, who only kicked for the Seahawks from 1977 through 1980 is shown in this picture below, which was dated 1977, with what I believe to be a slanted-cornered top one, so unless the date is wrong, or the Seahawks used different ones at the same time, I suspect the Seahawks only used the squared ones in 1976.  Terry Beeson, a MLB who started 16 games a season from 1978-80, was a rookie in 1977, so it is more likely that he would be being used on special teams that first year, although that certainly isn't conclusive as starters can play on special teams as well, and he did start 13 games in 1977.  But the photo was alleged to be from 1977, so without doubting the veracity of that, we'll conclude they wore the squared one only in 1976.
...also seems to indicate a slanted-cornered one...
And this previous picture of Zorn against San Diego is undated, but presumably it was from sometime around 1979-81, and like most of pictures of him, it seems to have a diagonal-cut one, like the one that Weaver seems to sport in 1977.  More research is needed on the top corner of the ones in the 1977-83 years, but for now I can seem to conclude the square-one was only 1976.  

Now on to the main attraction of the serif vs sans-serifed foot of the one.

Later pictures of the Seahawks, like these of Warren Moon and Brock Huard, seem to indicate that in the later years the sans-serif stayed throughout the run of this uniform set through 2001.  In the database we have all the ones from 1976-2001 as being traditional serifed, and it was a 1996 image that led me to delve into this research.
Warren Moon in 1997 or 98 and Brock Huard in 2000 continued to sport the sans-serifed one
So I went back to my Bucs' games collection and checked-out the 1984 Hall Of Fame Game against the Seahawks.  In this game the Seahawks 1s were....

1984 Pro Football Hall-Of Fame Game

...serifed, but the research would continue on.  Size wise, it appeared that I would find that all of the numbers pre-1993 were indeed somewhat larger than the currently indicated size, but it seems the 1976 numbers were the largest, while numbers from 1977 through the serif era were not as much larger than what we have in the database than the 1976 digits were.  The size for the sans-serifed images would seem to agree with the size of numbers that we presently have in the database.

A picture from a 1987 MNF game against the Raiders -- you may remember Bo Jackson running over Brian Bosworth and also disappearing into the Kingdome tunnel that night -- reveal that in '87 they still had the old style one, but in a later MNF game, 1992 against the Broncos, they were still wearing the same serifed style, but they now had a rounded top to the one.

Dave Krieg in 1987 who is glad he didn't have to
tackle Bo Jackson...

...and backup QBs Kelly Stouffer and Stan Gelbaugh, with their
curved-top numbers, go over some play calling with
head coach Tom Flores in 1992...
...while in 1994 Dan McGwire (brother of Mark) faces away
from the field, sporting a new style "one".
But then back to my Buccaneer collection and a 1994 game against the Seahawks, which showed Seattle with the new style ones, and the only question left was to determine which style did they wear during the 1993 season.

I didn't have any '93 Seahawks games in my collection and a Google search was less than helpful.  I thought I had struck paydirt on this page chronicling the Seahawks' 1993 Season, as #41 Eugene Robinson is shown returning a pick at Denver.  Robinson, who played for Seattle from 1985 through 1995, however, did not have an interception in the 1993 game at Denver, and further research shows that this picture was most likely from the 1995 game at Mile High.

I then came upon wide receiver Michael Bates.  Bates, who wore #81, only played two seasons with the Seahawks, 1993 and 1994.  A quick Google search of Bates will show him wearing both the old style and new style ones.  The simple fact, however, that he didn't join the team until 1993, however, indicates that the sans-serif one can be pinned down now as being worn exclusively from 1994-2001.

These two football card images of Michael Bates (1993, left and 1994, right) were the final link in our research

Now back to the top of the number one.  With the 1987 Dave Kreig pic showing the slant top, and the 1992 Dan McGwire pic showing a curved-top, the only thing left is to figure at what point between 1987-1992 did they switch to the curved topped one.  We will save that for another day, but for now, to sum up best as I can discern, the Seahawks jerseys need the following changes and these will be forwarded on to Tim and Bill for inclusion in the database.

1976: Largest numbers and squared off-top serif-foot one
1977-87: Larger numbers, slanted-cornered top, serif-foot one
1988-91: Larger numbers, unsure if slanted corner or curved corner, with serif-footed one
1992-93: Larger numbers, curved-cornered one, serif-foot one
1994-2001: Current size numbers, sans-serif footed ones

If anyone wants to delve further into the slant-top vs rounded-top 1, be my guest, in the mean time, we'll leave it there for now.

(Added:  After further research it appears that the Seahawks may have used the curved top numbers in 1983-84, so they may have gone twice from the slant numbers to the curved numbers, back to the slant numbers, and then finally with the curved numbers again in 1992-93.  And the Weaver picture may indeed shows the curved numbers in 1977.  The only thing definite is that 1976 was square numbers, and 1994-2001 was the sans serif numbers.  1977-1991 definitely needs more research regarding the Seahawks number font.  I have so far seen no evidence, however, that they used two different number types in the same season, but that doesn't mean that they necessarily didn't either.)

Dave Krieg, 1990: Large numbers, rounded-top "1"
(Sacked seven times by Derrick Thomas)
(Added #2: Our Bill Schaefer popped in with a couple 1976 pictures to show they indeed did have the slanted-top numbers, and offered that the square-topped numbers were likely just a publicity image and not actually used in a game.)

10/17/76: Seattle at Tampa Bay
11/28/76: Seattle at N.Y. Giants
 ~ ~ ~

Also added to the database, are the 2011 AFC North team pages as well as the undefeated 1972 Miami Dolphins team page. Coming Tuesday we will be releasing the highly anticipated 1922 season, and soon we will be hearing from Larry Schmitt again with another in his "Matching Rivals" series, this time a breakdown of the Dallas Cowboys and Detroit Lions.  Also upcoming an exciting breakthrough featuring a forgotten 1946 AAFC team.

1920 and 1921: Before the NFL - The APFA Years

Last week we announced plans here at The Gridiron Uniform Database to gradually roll out the 1920-1932 seasons here in the database.  Some would call this the most exciting research we will have -- it is the very earliest years of the NFL and it features many teams that no longer exist and a game that is the most removed and different from the one we know and love today.

It is also the hardest era to conduct the kind of research that Tim & Bill are doing in trying to nail down accurate graphics from these years.  Many of the games have no surviving photographs, many of the teams played a haphazard schedule, and some played very few games.  The 1921 Tonawanda Kardex, for example, only played one league game.

The 1920 Akron Pros will forever be the first champion of the league that
is now the National Football League

The league was known as the APFA - The American Pro Football Association - in it's first two years before changing it's name to the National Football League in 1922.  In that first season, games against non-league opponents actually counted in the standings, but tie games did not.  Twelve teams competed in the league, and the Akron Pros went an undefeated 8-0-3 to capture the first championship.

The second season saw the number of teams swell to 21 and the Chicago Staleys (who competed as the Decatur Staleys in the first season and would go on to become the Chicago Bears) won the 1921 title with a 9-1-1 mark.

We have added these first two seasons to the database and next Tuesday we will continue our march through the roaring twenties with the first "NFL" season, 1922.

This brings us to a couple other changes to the site.  As you know if you've been with us for the year that we've been around, it is our goal to make the site as easy and intuitive to navigate as possible.  In the past I have received emails and comments complaining that the site navigation can be somewhat confusing.  We have tweaked it here and there but have been unable to come up with an ideal format -- until now.  You will notice that the "week-by-week" links are now gone -- you will now be able to merely click on any team thumbnail and that team page will have the full-size graphic and the week-by-week schedule below it.  Our goal is to have the site complete -- with the exception of the 1920-1949 week-by-week game combos -- by September.  You will now see that on the year pages from 1950-2009 there is a link to the "Season Chart" at the top so you can view the head-to-head matchups worn each particular week in the mean time.

We will be rolling these team pages out in no particular order, however, we intend on having 1994, 2010 and 2011 completed this week, as well as the additional 1920s pages completed as these seasons are released.

Last week we did an update to the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals, adding a third uniform combination when it was pointed out to us in our forum that the Cardinals did not wear the white sanitary socks for their Week 14 home game against the New Orleans Saints.

This to the right gives us an opportunity to demonstrate the new team page you will find by clicking, either on the Cardinals team page or the 1985 year page, the Cardinals' thumbnail.  There on this one team page you will find the full-size Cardinals team graphic and the week-by-week uniform combos they wore.

You will also find easy navigation arrows that will allow you to browse to the previous and next seasons of that team as well as alphabetically through all of the 1985 NFL Teams.

You will find this new style already present on the 1920 and 1921 teams as they are released and throughout the summer it will propagate throughout the rest of the site.

You can see by the example of the Dayton Triangles here to the left, that even though we are not releasing the week by week uniform combos for the pre-1950 period, this style of team page will make its way to all teams throughout the database.

Another feature we are working on is continuing to expand the collection of weekly pages on the site.   Due to popular demand the 75th Anniversary Throwbacks of Week 3 of the 1994 season (along with all of the individual matchups of that week) have been added to the site.  We hope you'll enjoy those, and we'll continue to add various weeks from throughout NFL history until they all are done.  As you can see, the 1920 season has already been added (albeit without individual team graphics) and we be doing the rest of the 1920s as we releases those new graphics as well.

Our goal would be to have everything on the site immediately, but that of course is impossible.  We are, however, going as fast as we can to add stuff ASAP. By clicking the "Matchups & More" link at the top of the main pages, you can follow along on which of the team yearly pages and weekly pages have been added already, and as always if you have any particular items you'd like to see on the site sooner rather than later, let us know, and we'll move it to the front of the list.

We do not have a time-frame for releasing the 1920-49 week-by-week data, but the 1950 through the present data is available and on the site and will soon be displayed on all of the team pages completely as we go along.

Along with completing these pages we also intend on rolling out all of the game head-to-head matchup pages.  These are time consuming to do, and while we would like to have all of these in, we don't have an exact time frame on when they will be complete, however, rest assured they are on our radar as well.

There is one other small change we're not sure if you noticed or not, the Super Bowls are now represented by slightly larger thumbnail graphics than other games.  You'll notice this with the Super Bowl XLVI thumbnails on the current main front page, and you can see how it will be implemented in practice on the team pages by looking at the 1994 Chargers and 49ers team pages.  With the new format of five games per row on the team yearly pages, you can see how it just made sense to make a larger graphic for the Super Bowl teams as twenty weeks, or four rows of games, in the current 17 week + playoff format would go through the Conference Championships.

Thank you again for your continued interest, and we hope you find the site navigation easier to use and enjoy the site that much more.  If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, we'd love to hear them in our forum, and if you spot any broken links (other than stuff that just hasn't been put in yet) .... be sure to let us know.


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